Ascent of Baldy Mountain on 2010-10-02
|Others in Party:||My friend Jim.|
|Date:||Saturday, October 2, 2010|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Location:||USA-New Mexico|
| Elevation:||12441 ft / 3792 m|
Ascent Trip ReportI left the house at 3:30 AM with my friend Jim to head to northern New Mexico, to the Cimarron mountain range, to re-hike Touch-Me-Not Peak and then Baldy Mountain. I was carrying a 13 pound day pack including 5 pounds of water. I have been trying to figure out how to hike Baldy peak for the last 2 years. The eastern part of the peak is owned by Philmont Scout ranch. I am an Eagle Scout and was senior patrol leader of troop 166 in Albuquerque so I figured they would let me go from their side. They said no for insurance reasons. The western part is gated up and there is not really a way to get close and “burn it” up the mountain. A very long hike seemed the only option. We headed to Taos, then Eagle’s Nest, then east toward Cimarron. A short way into the canyon is a dirt road to the north. We took the fork to the right. You definitely need a 4 wheel drive vehicle from this point. We traveled about 5 miles and parked the SUV at coordinates 36 33.479 N, 105 12.160 W. The elevation was about 10,750 feet. We started hiking at 7:25 on a cool crisp clear morning. I hiked Touch-Me-Not Mountain last year and didn’t want to hike it again but I could not see another way to go to get to Baldy Mountain. We hiked down a blocked off road to the saddle, then up through the forest through a bolder field, then to the top. We reached Touch-Me-Not, elevation 12,044, at 9:00 AM after hiking 2 miles. There were some beautiful views to the west but to the east the clouds looked like a churning sea. We started heading towards Baldy Mountain across the ridge. The clouds got thicker and thicker until we were walking in very dense cloud cover. I am glad we had a GPS because it would have been easy to get disorientated. We hiked through bolder fields, dense trees, and open meadows and along the ridge. We arrived at Baldy Mountain, elevation 12,441, at 12:10 after hiking 6 miles. I like to take pictures in all directions from the top of mountain peaks and all I could get was about 20 feet in each direction of dense cloud cover. I have only been in this mountain range twice and both times it was under dense cloud cover. I was very disappointed that I was not able to see the vistas. When I was in Boy Scouts I hiked and camped all over New Mexico but never went to Philmont Scout ranch. I was disappointed that I could not see it from the peak. The peak was cold and misty to the point of filling our hair with water droplets. We decided to drop down in elevation back to the timberline to eat lunch. We started heading down, but things looked different. Because of the dense clouds we were starting to go to the wrong ridgeline. I used the track-back on the GPS to get to the right ridge. We made it back down to the tree line and had lunch. I was tired of beef jerky so I brought smoked oysters, crackers, dried fruit and chocolate. After a 20 minute lunch we continued on and had to re-hike Touch-Me-Not. It was some work to re-hike it. We were a little tired and it seemed like the mountain range was longer coming back. We continued on in the fog and clouds and arrived back at the car at about 5:25. Ten hours of almost non-stop hiking. The total hiking distance was 12.2 miles. We headed down the road and at a certain point the steering froze up. I was afraid we were going to have to hike out four miles, part way in the dark, and call for help. Jim looked under the SUV and saw a large rock lodged in the front axle. I moved the steering wheel as he pushed it out. What a relief! When we got down the mountain and into the town of Eagle’s Nest we looked back and saw deep dark violent black rain clouds covering the mountain. We were very glad we were not hiking down the dirt road. After stopping for a quick dinner we arrived back at 10:00 PM.
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