New Mexico

Wheeler Peak - 13,161 feet

 

Summited on 8/8/01 - Highpoint #3 of 50

Mark on the summit of Wheeler Peak in the Carson National Forest on 8/8/01. A 3,771 ft elevation gain from the trail head, and 15 miles.  

The trailhead is in the parking lot of the Taos Ski Resort so we stayed at the resort hotel for the night. It was kind of like the Shining in that it seemed like we were the only ones in the entire hotel. I found out later that there was one other couple besides us staying in the 100+ room hotel that night. There are other routes that are shorter, but I elected to use Trail 90 via Bull of the Woods as I wanted to get the whole experience. This turned out to be a good choice as the other shorter route was a steep scree slope. The first part of this hike, from the parking lot to Bull of the Woods, was by far the hardest. First thing in the morning with tight legs, the first few miles are punishing. Once you get past Bull of the Woods and get above treeline this hike becomes very scenic. Nothing but grass covered mountains as far as you can see down the trail. I didn't see any other people until a little over half way where I passed a couple who was also on a quest to hit the highpoints in all 50 states (althhough at the time I really wasn't). Once you get near the top you crest a ridge and the wind starts to blow so it was time for the hat and capilene. There is a false summit, Mount Walter, that you have to cross first. But its pretty easy going from Walter to Wheeler. There was one other person on the summit who had come up the route from the backside. He took my picture and then I had the summit to myself for about 15 minutes until the couple I had passed caught up to me. Another fellow and his young son came up too and said they had come up the scree slope, "Big mistake" were his exact words. Although he felt like going down would be a snap. I took pictures for the other people and then headed back. Lightning started to strike off in the distance a little ways before I made it back to tree line. I don't remember the exact time but it was probably right around noon. I met up with my family back in the parking lot. They had gone up Trail 90 a little ways and couldn't believe that I had made it the whole way to the top. I told them that once you made it past the first 3 miles it got much easier. All in all this was an excellent hike that I would definitely do again if I was in the area. At the time, this was the highest point I had climbed.

 

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