Ascent of Tolby Peak on 2013-09-21

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:Just me
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 21, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Tolby Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:11527 ft / 3513 m

Ascent Trip Report

My wife and I stayed in an Angel Fire, New Mexico condo for 2 nights, partly so that I would not have to drive so far on the day that I would be hiking Tolby Peak, elevation 11,527. We arrived Friday at noon, checked in and enjoyed the afternoon, evening dinner out and a fire in the fireplace that night. I left the condo at 6:15 Saturday morning, September 21, 2013. As I started the half hour drive, it looked like it was going to be a cloudy day, then I realized it was low lying fog in the valley. I had to drive slower than usual because of the dense fog. As I drove, I saw several groups of deer through the thick fog. After heading east on Highway 64, just past Eagle Nest, NM, I drove above the fog. It looked beautiful in the valley below. I headed through Cimarron Canyon State Park to Highway 64’s southern most point, directly in the center of the park. I found the Clear Creek trail but went six tenths of a mile more to a pay station. I paid $5.00 for day use, then returned to the trailhead parking area. It was a cool morning and the sun had not yet come up. The starting elevation was 7,820 feet. My GPS said 2.5 miles to the peak as the crow flies, but I knew it would be quite a bit more. I started hiking at 7:00 AM. The week before, NM had had record rains and Clear Creek was really full. It is a beautiful stream, nice trail, rich forest and a gorgeous place to hike. Simple little bridges were placed over the stream in many locations, and if they were not, it would be difficult to cross the stream so many times. I have never hiked a trail in NM with so many beautiful waterfalls. There were at least 4 nice sized waterfalls on the way up. You could hear their roar as you approached. I was always a little uneasy, because the map shows the trail disappearing and I knew it could be a tough canyon to navigate without a trail. I planned to leave the trail and hike up a particular ridge to the top. I have found, the hard way, that it is usually easier to bushwhack up a ridge, rather than bushwhacking up a valley. At 1.65 miles I left the trail and started straight up the mountain. It was difficult at first, yet not overly difficult. Part way up I saw a trail and followed it for a short distance. It made the climb easier. Later, I was to discover this was the same trail I was on, heading up the same ridge. If I had continued on the main trail I would have arrived at the same point. The trail began to head a different direction than I wanted to go, so I went straight up the mountain again. It was a very difficult climb! I bushwhacked through dense forests, over many fallen logs, through hidden bolder fields mixed in with the trees. It was very steep at times. I rarely sit down, yet found myself taking a number of one minute sits. A few times I had to use all fours. Later I speculated, yet do not know for sure, that the trail circled Tolby Peak on the way to Mount Phillips and that the trail might have been a better way to get close. It was a very hard haul. Finally I made the top. There were a few expansive views on the way up, yet Tolby Peak was tree covered with no views. I arrived at the peak at 10:30 AM, three and a half hours of almost non-stop hiking. The hiking distance was 3.8 miles. I took a peak picture, looked around a little then headed down. The hike down was very difficult until the point that I met the trail coming up the ridge. This time I followed the trail all the way until I got to the stream. For those hiking up the trail, the trail begins to head up the ridge 2.4 miles from the parking area. I plan to do Mt. Phillips some time in the next couple of years and to my dismay I did not see a way straight up Clear Creek, to that peak, without a hard 2.5 mile crow fly bushwhack. Yet maybe the trail goes around Tolby? I enjoyed the beautiful hike down and the roaring waterfalls. I shaved 30 minutes off on the return trip. I arrived back at the car at 1:30 PM. It took 3 hours to hike down for a total hike of six hours and 30 minutes. The total distance for the hike was 7.7 miles. My overall elevation gain, with a few ups and downs, was 3807 feet. It was wonderful to only have a 30 minutes drive back to the condo. We enjoyed another evening in Angel Fire then returned to the Albuquerque area on Sunday.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3807 ft / 1160 m
    Total Elevation Loss:100 ft / 30 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.7 mi / 12.4 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Clear & Cool
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3767 ft / 1148 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 3707 ft / 1130 m; Extra: 60 ft / 18m
    Loss on way in:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:3.8 mi / 6.1 km
    Route:Clear Creek Trail then bushwhack ridge
    Start Trailhead:7820 ft / 2383 m
    Time:3 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:40 ft / 12 m
    Gain on way out:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    Time:3 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Phil Robinson
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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