Ascent of Trouble Benchmark on 2011-08-07

Climber: Richard Oestreicher

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Sunday, August 7, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Trouble Benchmark
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:12622 ft / 3847 m

Ascent Trip Report

Every year around my birthday I like to try a challenging peak I haven't done before. I'll be 64 tomorrow, and this was this year's birthday choice. A tiring but beautiful hike! Tiring because of the distance but also because of the rocky surface of the Divide so-called Trail.

I took Forest Road 161 off New Mexico 518 to the trailhead--newly expanded by the Forest Service. The formerly dinky parking area now looks like it is ready for tour buses--actually horse trailers. I've never seen this trail get heavy use; I wonder why they built this large parking area. The Serpent Lake Trail heads steadily but gradually--1900 feet elevation gain in 4 miles--up to the ridge line between the Jicarita Peaks and Trouble Benchmark. You by pass the cutoff to the Serpent Lakes about 3/4 of the way up. At the ridgeline you hit a trail junction with the Divide Trail. Right heads toward the Jicarita Peaks; straight ahead to the Santa Barbara Campground; left to Trouble Benchmark and eventually the Truchas Peaks. The long N-S ridge is the largest area of Arctic tundra in the state. This is my fourth trip up to this ridge; I especially enjoy seeing the bighorn sheep that live here.

Have I mentioned that geezers hate walking on rock and boulder fields? The so-called Divide Trail is mostly just a series of cairns leading across the rocky ridge with frequent boulder fields interspersed with areas with a bit of grass between the rocks.It's all above treeline and usually windy as it was today. From the trail junction it's about 3 miles to the peak. You go up and down several knobs and small peaks. I spotted two female sheep with a baby, marmots, picas, and chipmunks.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2945 ft / 897 m
    Distance:13.7 mi / 22 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Very Windy
clear and sunny
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:2945 ft / 897 m
    Extra Loss:743 ft / 226 m
    Distance:6.9 mi / 11.1 km
    Route:Serpent Lake Trail; Divide Trail
    Trailhead:Alamitos Trailhead  10420 ft / 3176 m
    Time Up:3 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Distance:6.8 mi / 10.9 km
    Time Down:3 Hours 

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