Ascent of Lucero Peak on 2016-05-26

Climber: Phil Robinson

Others in Party:Just me
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, May 26, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Lucero Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:10831 ft / 3301 m

Ascent Trip Report

My wife and I drove to Taos for a little 2 night vacation. I was only half thinking about hiking a peak. I planned to scout Lucero Peak, elevation 10,831, then if it seemed workable, hike it early Thursday morning, May 26, 2016. I did lots of research on the peak, studied maps, read another person’s trip report and downloaded the GPS trek from his report. It all seemed workable, yet a little spooky because the top is a narrow razor edge with a 1200 foot drop off one side. I left the little condo we were staying in at 7:15, drove to Arroyo Seco, then headed east on a paved road. It shortly turns to dirt. A 4WD vehicle is not necessary. Lucero Peak and the surrounding land is owned by the El Salto Landowners Association. Shortly after leaving Arroyo Seco there is a sign on the left and a green house. I stopped and paid a $4.00 fee and signed an insurance waver. It is set up so that if one were to come very early in the morning, they can sign up without disturbing the household. At the end of the dirt road I headed directly north and after a few twists and turns was at the trailhead. I am interested in the highest 102 major peaks in New Mexico and all the minor peaks in-between. A total of 164 of them. This was peak 163 on the list. I have 131 of the 164 and they are becoming harder and harder to figure out.
I started hiking at 7:45. The elevation was 8220 feet. It was a pleasantly cool morning. It is very rare I can learn from another person’s trip report, GPS trek and maybe a mistake or 2 that person made. The trip report said it would be better to take the ridge and an old trail. (Thanks Richard! ) I headed down the road a little then north bushwhacking up a fairly steep hill to the ridge. It felt great to be hiking! I saw a very old unmaintained trail heading east. It must have been a great trail in its day. Logs had been cut and you could see it was a wonderful way to hike years ago. Today it has lots of fallen logs and ruts, but is much better than a straight cut through the woods. Most people park at the trailhead to hike to the waterfalls on the west slope of Lucero Peak. Supposedly there are 9 of them. I could see 2 in the far distance. I had problems with my last camera, so I purchased a well researched Panasonic ultralight 30X optical zoom camera. When I took pictures of the falls, in the far distance, it looked as though I was standing right in front of them. It takes incredible pictures for an ultralight camera! I followed the old trail up, watching the sun rise over the mountain as I hiked. About ¾ of the way along I came across a very old cabin dug down into the earth. Many old artifacts were lying around. After studying it, I came to the conclusion that the cabin was used twice. It looks like it might date back to the late 1800’s and was a mining cabin. I noticed a number of mining test holes in the area. Later in its history, maybe 40 or 50 years ago, it looks like it might have been a hunters cabin. More modern plastic had been put on the roof to keep the rain out. It had an old broken down woodstove inside. I took lots of pictures. I was no longer following the trail and was now heading south on the north side of the sloop. I was hiking through lots of snow and I was getting a little spooked thinking snow might be on the narrow top. Years ago it would have seemed like a very hard bushwhack over logs to the top, but today it did not seem so bad. The top came into view and the steep vertical wall drop. I hiked up some rocks then I could see the jagged edge I needed to walk. Fortunately there was no snow on the top. The edge is about the width of a sidewalk and is a couple hundred feet long. It was not as bad as I thought, yet if someone has a great fear of heights that 1200 feet sheer drop might be a little unnerving and I would for sure make sure your shoestrings are tied. I carefully worked my way along and made it to the top! The views were spectacular in all directions. I felt like a roaring lion, happy to have made the top! I took some pictures and scouted some future peaks to hike. It took 2 hours and 40 minutes to hike. The distance was 2.7 miles. I headed down the mountain very close to the way I came up. I passed the old log cabin and this time discovered an old outhouse. I was following my trek back and at one point had my GPS zoomed a little to far out and started to slightly head down a valley I did not come up. I quickly corrected my direction. In the distance I saw majestic snow covered mountains and beautiful green valleys highlighted with blue sky. I followed the old unmaintained trail down to the hill I climbed up at the start of the hike, then back to the car. The total time from start to finish was 5 hours and 10 minutes. The distance was 5.8 miles and the total up-down elevation gain was 2911 feet. After my last 3 hikes being desert hikes, it was sure great getting back to “my” country, high lush mountain terrain. It was nice to have a short drive back. My wife and I enjoyed an evening steak dinner in Taos.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2911 ft / 886 m
    Total Elevation Loss:300 ft / 90 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2686 ft / 818 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2611 ft / 796 m; Extra: 75 ft / 22m
    Loss on way in:75 ft / 22 m
    Distance:2.7 mi / 4.3 km
    Route:North then east on old trail then bushwhack south
    Start Trailhead:El Salto Trail head  8220 ft / 2505 m
    Time:2 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:225 ft / 68 m
    Gain on way out:225 ft / 68 m
    Distance:3.1 mi / 5 km
    Route:Same as way up
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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