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Ascent of Van Diest Peak on 2014-09-01

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:Just me
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, September 1, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Van Diest Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:11223 ft / 3420 m

Ascent Trip Report

It did not look like I was going to be able to hike Van Deist Peak. I spent Labor Day weekend with my wife, son and his family in Red River, New Mexico. I set out to hike Van Diest Peak on Saturday morning, August 30, 2014 by taking the northern, east-west road, High Street, then turning north on the road Bitter Creek. Three or four miles up I encountered a “No Trespassing” sign. I asked some people if I could go further and they said, “Yes.” After driving another half mile I encountered very serious “No Trespassing” signs and a locked gate. I turned back and hiked Relica Peak that day. (See Relica Peak trip report) Later that day, after hiking Relica Peak, I went back to the area to see if I could find someone to ask for permission to go into that area. I could not find anyone. On Sunday I hiked Sawmill Mountain. (See that trip report) I returned to the area Sunday afternoon, again looking for someone to ask for permission to go into the area. I met one of the partial owners of the area and he gave me permission to hike the peak on Monday. He told me where to park and I asked him, “Even though the sign says, “What Part Of No Trespassing Do You Not Understand,” it will be okay?” He said, “Yes.” There must have been 10 “No Trespassing” signs on the 2 gates. We had a very nice talk about hiking the mountains of New Mexico.

I spent a wonderful morning with my wife, son and his wife. I watched my almost 2 year old grandson catch his first fish. They threw the fish back because they were just about to leave. On our last trip to Red River, March 2013, my granddaughter had her first fishing experience. She did not catch anything but will have lots of opportunities to fish while growing up because her dad is quite a fisherman. My son and family left Red River at 9:30 AM and my wife went with them so she would not have to wait around while I hiked. I felt very appreciative and grateful to be able to hike from this direction to the peak. Few are able to go this way. I parked the SUV and went under the gate and proceeded up the road. I headed in a northwesterly direction. The road passes 3 beautiful lakes then turns into a trail. The trail follows a picturesque little mountain stream. I lost the trail for a moment, thinking it was way up the mountain, but luckily spotted it again below. The trail had deceptively crossed to the other side of the stream, yet I kept going straight. I studied the map and planned to go up a ridge to the top. It was an easy hike on the trail, after 35 minutes and 1.4 miles. I was ready to cross the stream and hike up the mountain to the ridge. This was the hardest part of the hike, bushwhacking straight up the mountain, yet nothing like my pull up Relica Peak on all fours 2 days ago. Finally I made the ridge. It became much easier. It was a beautiful hike through the aspen, spruce and fur forest. At times there were many downed logs to cross. On the southern part of the ridge I could see beautiful meadows in a little creak valley below. It was so beautiful I almost went down to go to the peak that way, yet stayed on the ridge. There were times the ridge was almost flat and other times it was a pull to get up. At the top I was delighted to see expansive views of the New Mexico mountains in every directions. Every peak I saw is like a friend. I have hiked most all of them and I have a story to tell about each one. I arrived at the top after hiking almost 3.5 miles. It took 2 hours and 10 minutes. I took lots of pictures on the top and thought of doing a medium size 10K peak nearby, but am only interested in those if they are along the way and the meadows below were too irresistible to not go through. I headed down through the forest and soon I was in green grass, and wildflower filled meadows. The beautiful forest made an edge around and highlighted the meadows. I took my time getting down, taking lots of pictures. In one of the meadow areas I came across a very curious, very old and narrow dirt road running parallel with the ridge. I found it odd because most old roads will exit through the valley. This did not. (*See below) Hiking further through the meadows I came across a twin set of puffball mushrooms. Each were about the size of 2 fists put together. When you know a puffball there is no mistaking them, except when they are first starting as a little nub, then they can be confused with a very deadly type of mushroom. It just needs to be cut and if there are gills, don’t eat. When they get bigger there is no confusing them. They can get to be the size of a soccer ball and are wonderfully delicious. I left one to spore the meadow and took the other home with anticipation of eating a delightful treat. (Note – When I got home, and waited 5 days to cook it, it was to far in its development to eat. I have 1 acre of land in the mountains and a meadow, so I threw it in my meadow in hopes the spores would produce a future crop.) With about a mile to go to meet the trail the meadows began to disappear and I had to hike in the overgrown, log filled creek valley. I have found that ridges are almost always preferable to narrow creek valleys. It was very difficult at times going over one log then another. I knew I could not just live up there so I had to move foot by foot at times. Sometimes I climbed up the steep side of the valley and hiked higher up then back into the overgrown area by the little creek. It was very beautiful, but difficult hiking. Some more push and shove and crossing the larger stream and I was back on the trail. It sure felt good to be hiking with no obstructions. I breezed down the trail. Nearing the end of the trail I met the man and his wife who had given me permission to hike into the area. They had been inspired by our conversation, and were out hiking one of the higher areas on the property. *He asked me if I had seen an old road in the meadows running parallel to the ridge. I said, “Yes.” He said it was an old covered wagon road, most likely from the 1800’s, and they used to travel across it in covered wagons. A piece of history! I saw it, but missed taking pictures of it and studying it in more detail. It would be fascinating to hike! I arrived back at my SUV after hiking **7.22 miles. It took 4 hours and 52 minutes to hike, including leisure time. My total elevation gain was 2148 feet which included about 100 feet of ups and downs getting to the top. It was just a short drive back to Red River then a longer drive home. I was delighted to be able to do 3 peaks this weekend. It took 17.4 miles to get them all, yet I hardly missed an hour of being with my son and family. (**Note – My GPS track always shows a little less than what the actual GPS says. I believe the larger number is more accurate because the track reading only takes a reading every so often.)………..Thanks Mr. C !
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2148 ft / 654 m
    Total Elevation Loss:100 ft / 30 m
    Round-Trip Distance:7.2 mi / 11.6 km
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Stream Ford
    Weather:Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2148 ft / 654 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2048 ft / 624 m; Extra: 100 ft / 30m
    Loss on way in:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:3.4 mi / 5.5 km
    Route:End Bitter Creek Road NW on trail then bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:9175 ft / 2796 m
    Time:2 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Distance:3.8 mi / 6.1 km
Ascent Part of Trip: RR Labor Day Weekend 2014

Complete Trip Sequence:
OrderPeak/PointDateGain
1Relica Peak2014-08-30 a2510 ft / 765 m
2Sawmill Mountain2014-08-31 b2487 ft / 758 m
3Van Diest Peak2014-09-01 c2148 ft / 655 m
Total Trip Gain: 7145 ft / 2178 m    Total Trip Loss: 450 ft / 137 m
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. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file




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