Peanut headed to a Boy Scout canoe trip and Pumpkin headed to Alaska with an Aunt to hang with some cousins so Heath and I took Bean down to New Mexico. The Sanders family joined us for most of this adventure. We’d reserved the days a while back and assumed we would go to Colorado but never decided anything more specific until the Tuesday before. We found a campsite in New Mexico that looked good and planned a trip around that.
Thursday after work we got all packed up and the 3 of us headed out in my new truck around 6pm.
I drove us about 90 minutes through Kansas to Emporia to test out the food and drinks at Radius Brewing Co. As we entered town we were amazed how bike crazy everyone seemed. All the cars had racks and we saw riders everywhere. As we opened the door to the brewery we found a huge group of bicycle folks at tables, at the bar and waiting for a spot at either. The wait was over an hour and we needed to eat and get moving so we decided to try this brewery another day.
We drove away from downtown to the outskirts and picked a bar and grill. It was kind of a disappointment but we got fed and moved on. Heath took over the wheel and Bean and I went to sleep. Outside of Dodge City, Heath pulled over for gas and woke me up for my shift. I’d been caffeine free for a few days and was excited to get a cup of coffee and a soda and listen to the latest episode of my favorite podcast http://thetrailshow.com/.
My drive went really well and we got to Capulin Volcano National Monument way ahead of schedule. It was still dark but I could see a gate blocking the entrance to the park. I found a gravel pull off the road and parked and went to sleep. a couple hours the sun was starting to rise and I did some investigating.
We were still 2hrs from the campsite and the park did not open for 2.5hrs. The campsite was a free first come first serve area and hoped to get there pretty early so decided to skip the volcano and head on. Bean woke up and started spotting dear along the road. When we got to Cimarron the sun was up but the sky was hazy with smoke. The highway we needed to take was closed from a forest fire. We talked to the cops a bit and then got a call from Jon that we could not hear anything on. We could smell the smoke and everything was pretty hazy.
Jon was able to get some texts out and we found them at a gas station up the road. We did some digging on the internet and got out the google maps and made a plan. The wind and fire were headed north and our campsite was south west. With the highway being closed we had to go a round about way to get there but the drive was not as bad as we expected and when we got there the sky was clear and we found a really nice spot.
We got the tents, tables, canopy and some other gear up and started making the site our home. Once all set we took a an exploratory hike up the big hill behind our site.
There seemed to be trails that came and went and it was not too far to the top of the hill.
We were used to KC being crazy hot and humid. It was hot and sunny but way more comfortable, esp in the shade.
We took a different day down the hill and walked the road a bit to get back to our site.
We had BLT sandwiches, veggies and hummus for lunch. Then we took a 1hr nap then drove down toward town to get cell range a bit and spent the rest of the evening messing around camp.
With the forest fires and a drought we discovered fires were not allowed and we would need to do all our cooking on the camp-stove. Some things took longer or were a bit more difficult then planned but everything turned out great. We had roasted veggies and loaded baked potatoes for dinner that night.
Instead of baking brownies on the coals of the fire we made the brownie batter into pancakes.
After dinner we hiked up the hill on the other side of the campsite and got a view of Mt Wheeler from the top. As the sun set it cooled off pretty quick and we got to bed before dark. It was a cold night dipping into the 40s and Heath saw some frost in the morning. We got up fairly early so the mom’s could eat before their trip to the river.
We chopped up and warmed up the leftovers from dinner and fried runny eggs to go on top, with hot coffee of course.
The mom’s left and the Sanders girls slept in late. Bean, Jon and I worked on random projects around camp, we hung the hammock, built a trail to it, made some pine needle tea, went for a bike ride jog, etc. Once everyone was up and fed we went for a hike.
It was down the hill a ways and though it was still early it was really hot and this side of the hill was really sunny. We saw lots of lizards and cactus.
The view at the top was not bad.
The kids complained a bit about the heat but we let them lead and decide what ways to go and that worked pretty good until we were getting ready to head back. Ali got into a cactus and was loaded with thorns. We headed back to the truck and got some tweezers and she and Jon got them out. We drove around Taos a bit and looked at the Rio Grande and cooled off in a little creek.
Then we went back to camp and hung out. literately
We had planned to grill a bunch of chicken thighs but since we could not grill them we cooked them on the flat grill and had some beans and rice. The moms came back with beer and it was another nice dinner.
While we were cooking it a heard of cattle walked by.
After dinner they came back the other way.
We made it up till dark this time and the girls did some skits for us around the citronella candle.
Bugs were no problem all trip but it was as close to a fire as we had. We got to bed and in the morning Jon and I got an early start for some mountain climbing. We had packed the night before so go up at 4am and hit the road. We got on the trail at 5:20 just as the sun was coming out.
2 miles in we got to Williams Lake.
There were a few tents right by the water and it looked like they were still sleeping so we hiked on. All trip the elevation and dryness wreaked my nose and I had bloody noses on and off.
This trail was pretty great, it made giant switchbacks that were rarely real hard.
and the views down were always nice.
We stopped at the end of the treeline for a meal even-though we were not hungry because we had learned from experience it may be the last spot that does not have terrible wind and cold. We bundled up a bit and shortly later we were in range of some peaks.
We decided to start with the 2nd highest point in NM at Mt. Walter (13,141).
Thats Mt Wheeler on the left. After Walter we scooted around the side of Wheeler, skipped it and checked out Simpson.
There was storms in the forecast for most of the day and I think it was at this point they started looking pretty legit.
We decided to rush up to Wheeler and possibly take a longer break there.
However we got slowed down as we kept seeing friends out on the trail.
We made it to Wheeler and it was a bit cold and the clouds were really rolling in.
We took the time to sign our names,
and take a timed shot from the top.
Then we scooted back down the trail getting out of lightning range as quick as we could.
We stopped just after getting into the trees for another little meal and to loose some layers. We only saw one couple ahead of us and nobody while out there but on the way back there was a lot of people headed up even though it looked like storms.
We got back to the car just as raindrops started falling on us and drove back to Taos.We met up with the girls and went to a park/play-area.
It was pretty windy and the rain had stopped but looked like it could start any minute. This place was called Twist and nice because it had an indoor and outdoor area. Jon and I relaxed and dealt with some altitude headaches and the kids had a blast. Then we all got starving and made some lunch in the parking-lot with leftover chicken.
Jon and I got back to camp first and I’d been dealing with not enough sleep for like a week and tried to sneak in a nap but just after laying down it started to pour and even hail. I was worried about tent but it did fine. It rained lightly off and on the rest of the night. We mostly hung out in the van but when it was dry we got out for cooking and bike ridding.
and to watch the cows come through.
They must have liked us because they came closer and closer.
Everyone else crammed into the van together and watched a movie on the tablet so I took the opportunity to have the tent to myself. I got all comfy and got out my book and promptly fell deep asleep hard. I didn’t even hear the girls come to bed.
In the morning we ate as much leftovers as we could, repacked all the wet gear and picked up camp. The Sanders headed home and we tried to squeeze in a few more adventures. First we went to the Taos Pueblo.
Some of these buildings are almost 2000 years old and the families have relatives that have lived there the whole time.
There were some ruins of building even older.
We did a tour and really enjoyed it.
We looked around peoples homes and shops and even got a couple treats.
Then got back on the road. On the way I could see Mt. Lindsey and really wanted to hike around the base of it a bit but could find no public land on the south side of her w/ out going way out of our way so we got a quick pizza and drove on.
Instead we stopped in Pueblo, CO and walked around their little downtown river walk.
Lucky for us they had a great brewery right on the water.
And lots of stuff for Bean to explore and climb.
It started to get late and we headed out. It’s always a long drive home with the time change going the wrong direction but we caught up on some podcasts and got dinner in a truck stop with a decent salad bar. I drove the 2nd shift and had to load up the caffeine so was pretty awake at 3:30am when we got home. So the girls went to bed and I unloaded and hung up all the wet gear before crashing.