Note: You may have read this post way too early. WordPress hiccuped and I couldn’t fix it. But here it is, in the intended order of posting.
We talked to a local who said that if we started our hike early, we ought to miss the storm that was forecast at Wheeler Peak so Chris, Steve, and I were out the door by 5:00 AM on our last vacation day. Lorna opted to stay back with the kids on their last day in Red River. She and her mom took them on a 4-wheel excursion up the mountain.
We parked the car at Taos Ski Valley (altitude 9439′) and started up the Bull of the Woods trail. This is longer, slightly easier, scenic route to the top, but it’s uphill all the way. It is 2.1 miles to this meadow.
We still have 5 1/2 miles to go to reach the peak. Oh my. This sign got my attention. If you ski, you know that a black diamond means ‘expert’. It may not mean that for this hike, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Some parts were only a little uphill, more were really uphill, and there were a few disheartening spots where we went downhill and then had to climb back up. Deep sighs all round.
We walked across snow a few times…
Honestly, our lungs were killing us. As we got higher, we stopped to breathe every 100 steps.
You reach the 2nd highest point before the you get to the actual peak. And then you hike down a while before turning back up. It was harder than it looked like it would be but we did it. Wheeler Peak, altitude 13, 159′
The views were amazing!
This is Chris standing way closer to the edge than Lorna would have been able to tolerate…
We took the short, steep way down. The first part were switchbacks over a huge granite talus field. I was happy to have on knee braces and to have a real trekking pole because this was the scariest part of the whole hike. No photos, I was focused on not falling.
The last part of this trail intersects with the downhill part of the Williams Lake trail that we had hiked earlier in the week. We went back to the Bavarian Restaurant to celebrate reaching the peak and hiking 11 1/2 miles with more Andechs beer. As we sat there, the rain finally came. Life is good :-).
Two words – WOW! CONGRATULATIONS!
Wow! I’m impressed with your hiking! I live near sea level and the last time I was in the Rocky Mt. National Park I got altitude sickness on Trail Ridge Road. Not a pleasant experience!
Congratulations! Just this past week I hiked my first 14er and I understand the difficulties you faced. We had to go slowly and rest often, but it leaves you with a definite sense of accomplishment. Well done!
And congrats to you as well!