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Ascent of Peak 11656 on 2020-07-18

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:My friend Ravindar
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, July 18, 2020
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Peak 11656
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:11656 ft / 3552 m

Ascent Trip Report

I left my home at 5:30 AM, Friday July 17, 2020, and headed towards the Pecos Wilderness in northern New Mexico for a peakbagging adventure. I went with my friend Ravinder. We both go to Calvary Church in Albuquerque. He has never been peakbagging nor backpacking. We arrived at Jack’s Creek Trailhead and were hiking by 7:50 AM. The temperature was pleasant. It was a partly cloudy morning. I do not have very many more peaks that I am interested in hiking, so I have not been doing the amount of peaks that I have done in previous years, but have been doing a little bit of mountain running each week to stay in shape. We planned on camping at Pecos Baldy Lake. The last time I camped there was with my son Garret in June of 2010. It felt good to be backpacking. I was carrying 34 pounds. The starting elevation was 8741 feet. It was a beautiful hike through meadows, forests and wildflowers. We saw deer, birds and butterflies. There as a burned out patch from a forest fire that was not there when I hiked with Garret. The hardest part of the 3 day hike for me was the last 2 miles just before we got into camp. We arrived after hiking 8.5 miles. It took us 5 hours and 40 minutes with a few little stops. The camp elevation was about 11,500 feet. Our up-down elevation gain was 2850 feet. I have an ultra light Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 person tent which is superbly water tight and weighs only 2 and a half pounds. My son lent Ravinder an ultra light Big Agnes 1 person tent. The Pecos Wilderness was under a fire restriction so we were not able to have a campfire. For dinner I cooked dehydrated Beef Stroganoff and Ravinder had dehydrated Chana Masala. I prefer a liquid gas stove and cooked dinner on a MSR- Dragon Fly that weights about a pound plus fuel. We walked around the lake and saw a marmot. It looked like a little bear. We went to bed early and there was a light rain all night. I was concerned that we would be hiking all the next day in the rain with dangerous thunderstorms on the ridges. We would be hiking above the timberline most of the day. I slept very well.

Lightning on ridges is extremely dangerous. The hiker is the high point. When I woke up I prayed that we would not have to contend with the rain. In the middle of my prayer it stopped raining and we had no issues during the day. We got up at 5:30 AM, had a light breakfast and were hiking by 6:30 AM. The first peak was Peak 12,020. It is found in Mike Butterfield’s great book, “New Mexico High Peaks.” This is a beautifully illustrated peak picture book of all the 12 and 13 thousand foot peaks in New Mexico. This peak also adds an additional peak to my goal list, the highest 177 peaks in New Mexico. We hiked out of the forest to above the timberline. We were on Skyline Ridge, a 75 mile trail mostly above the timberline where one can hike for days with beautiful expansive views in all directions, the entire hike. Civilization does not appear to exist on the ridge. Skyline Ridge is my favorite hiking in New Mexico. We arrived at Peak 12,020 at 7:45 AM. It only took 45 minutes and a mile and a half from camp. We had a 606 foot elevation gain from our morning start. I took some pictures from the peak. It was partly cloudy but no thunderheads. A portion of Skyline Ridge is called Trailriders Wall. The high point is Trailriders Wall Peak, elevation 11,979. We were there at 8:30 AM and 3 miles from camp. We gained about 1000 feet from our camp start. The next goal was Little South Truchas, elevation 12,560. We continued on the beautiful hike. Before the top there were lots of boulders we had to traverse. It was steep and I had quite a few short standing stops on the way up. We arrived at 10:15 AM, almost 5 miles from camp, with a 2100 feet elevation gain. We thought about doing Truchas Peak, the second highest major peak in New Mexico, but we had one more out of the way peak to do and thought it might be too much for the day. If I had never done Truchas Peak before we would have been on our way, but having done it 5 times already we decided not to. The first time I hiked Truchas Peak was when I was 15 years old. (See my picture on peakery.com Truchas Peak with Scout Troop 166, I’m 3rd from the left) We came off the rocky peak face, the same way we went up, then back to the ridge. We saw one Big Horn sheep. We then went to trail 351. The trail descended to a pretty little lake at the base of Peak 11,656. It was fairly steep to the top, up to a 31 degree grade. I had more standing stops as I went to the top. Most of the top was tree covered but there were a few views in places. The time was 1:00 PM. We traveled 7.7 miles so far today and had a daily elevation gain of about 2800 feet. I was getting a little tired and could see that we had to go way down then way up to the ridge. I thought about bushwhacking in a steep straight line but decided on the easier, longer same trail. We made it back to Skyline Ridge then a slow assent to the top, then over and back into our camp. I was so tired. I felt like I had been run over. We hiked almost 12 miles with an up-down elevation gain of 3700 feet for the day, 20.5 miles and 6527 feet gain for the trip. 10 hours and 40 minutes of hiking. We rested about an hour then cooked dinner. I had dehydrated Chicken and Dumplings and Ravinder had Beef Stroganoff. When I was in Boy Scouts we purified our water with halazone tablets. The water tasted funny and took about 45 minutes until it was ready. (I do carry halazone as a backup.) Before halazone the water was purified with iodine. When I restarted backpacking in 2005 everyone was using a pump. The water tasted great but took a long time to get. About 2010 I started using gravity water filters. They were very slow. You started the water dribbling then went and did something. They have finally mastered it!! We went to the lake with a 10 liter pouch and filter made by Katelyn (Think 5 - 2 liter bottles of soda) and took the water back to camp. It filters so fast it is like a slow sink faucet. It is the best; fast and delicious! We went to bed early. There was a little rain at night. I slept well.

We got up at 7:00 AM. I had dehydrated Breakfast Skillet. We went down to the lake and took our time packing up. It was a perfectly clear morning. The entire 3 days in camp we were watched by the most curious bird I have ever seen, the Rocky Mountain Gray Jay. One to three of them would sit on a limb a short distance away and watch us. I see this bird on most trips in the Pecos and have pictures of this bird when I hiked in these mountains as a kid. We left camp at 9:45 AM. The sky changed suddenly and thunderhead clouds rolled in. Our final peak was Round Mountain, elevation 10,809. We took our backpacks off at the base and it started to pour. We put on our rain ponchos and left our packs at the base. As we went up, the rain was mixed with hail and there were many lightning flashes and cracks of thunder. It was dense tree cover and I was not worried about getting hit. With every crack of thunder I thanked God that this was not happening the day before on the ridge. The very top is covered with many, many fallen trees and it was quite an obstacle course getting to the peak top. It was 4 miles from camp and 11:35 AM. We hiked down the thick forest, through the meadows, through the aspen forest, through the pine and fir forest, and back to camp. Ravinder did very well for his first backpacking adventure. We hiked 9 miles today. The entire hike was 29.5 miles. It was 3:05 PM. Our entire up-down elevation gain was 7347 feet. (If you hike our entire trip you will be gaining up-down elevation equivalent to ¼ of the way from sea level to Mt. Everest) This hike knocked off 3 more peaks on my list – 170 of the 177 highest peaks in New Mexico.
See pictures on peakery.com
(7 more peaks to go)
The list……. https://www.peakbagger.com/list.aspx?lid=-925606&cid=1477

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1600 ft / 487 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1104 ft / 335 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:696 ft / 212 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 496 ft / 151 m; Extra: 200 ft / 60m
    Loss on way in:200 ft / 60 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:Saddle Between Little S. Truchas up east ridge
    Start Trailhead:From Little South Truchas to Trail 351 then east   11160 ft / 3401 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:904 ft / 275 m
    Gain on way out:904 ft / 275 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Bushwack east - Trail 351 -Skyline Ridge
    End Trailhead:Pecos Baldy Lake Camp  
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes
Ascent Part of Trip: Little South Truchas +4 (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Peak 120002020-07-18 a3436 ft / 1047 m
2Trailriders Wall2020-07-18 b384 ft / 117 m
3Little South Truchas2020-07-18 c1087 ft / 331 m
4Peak 116562020-07-18 d1600 ft / 488 m
5Round Mountain2020-07-19 d951 ft / 290 m
Total Trip Gain: 7458 ft / 2273 m    Total Trip Loss: 2075 ft / 632 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Phil Robinson
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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