New Mexico has so far turned out to be way different than I expected. After an awesome long weekend in Santa Fe with Rebecca, it was time to tackle the last state. Rather than hitchhiking out of town, we decided to ride the coal powered Cumbres and Toltec Train. It was a fun, but slow ride back up to the pass. The train dropped us off right at the trail.
Unfortunately the weather outlook for the week turned out to be spot on. We had some kind of precipitation every day. While we had left the extreme high elevations behind, it was still near freezing. The terrain started out as long ridgelines with alternating forest and meadow. Mornings tended to be nicer with some sun, but inevitably the temperature would drop and get nasty in the afternoon.
On the fourth day we made it to Ghost Ranch in time for an all you can eat lunch. As it was at a much lower elevation we found ourselves in the dessert quite suddenly. When the rain mixed with dessert sand it combined to create horrible mud which balled up under our shoes until they felt like lead weights. Everything we had was a muddy mess.
On the last full day we climbed back up to 10,000 feet. As we climbed the rain turned to snow and started sticking. We soon found ourselves trudging through 8 inches of fresh snow and the terrain looked like a winter wonderland. Breaking trail was tough so we took turns in the lead and were frequently navigating solely by GPS. All in all it was about 12 miles of snow. Thankfully as we dropped back down we came to a ranch that runs a hiker hostel and were able to sleep indoors. It’s a good thing too as my tent was soaked and even my sleeping bag was somewhat damp. We had an easy little hike into Cuba the next morning, but it was cold.
When I pictured New Mexico hiking, it was warm dessert with little water. After 5 days of rain/snow it is fair to say I sure wasn’t expecting this. At least I’m hiking south to warmer territory.