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Topic: New Mexico Suggestions< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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JoshOP Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 12:25 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi Folks...

My girlfriend and I just found out that we'll be flying into Albuquerque for the weekend.  We'll arrive Friday morning and fly out on Sunday.  We are bringing our backpacks and renting a car at the airport.  Knowing the amount of time we have, can any of you please recommend a good 2-day or 3-day backpacking trip within 3 or 4 hours of Albuquerque?  We are both experienced trail runners and backpackers, so difficulty shouldn't be a huge issue.  We're just trying to use the little amount of time we have to spend the best time we can on the trail.  I've looked at Gila, Bandelier, and Sandia, but I can't make up my mind.  Are there other places I might consider?  Thanks in advance for any suggestions!  Josh
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SW Mtn backpacker Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 1:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Around Albuquerque/Santa Fe:
The forested Pecos or Jemez are closer than the Gila and they are more rural than the Sandias.  We are talking high mountains with forests though.  Bandelier still might be burnt in the backcountry. You can backpack the Sandias but, since it is right next to the city or ski area, must coordinate parking a car with the Open Space police since they lock the trailhead gates in the evenings (times posted).  
The Gila:
The Gila is great and more "New Mexico"-like than the other wilderness areas.  It is a bit of driving (2hrs) if not renting out a 4x4; in a sedan, you'd have to take the Hillsboro exit past Truth or Consequences (2 hours south of Albuquerque), then a little more than 2 hours to the visitors center (all hardtop, and can car camp if so desired).  The Gila and it's Forks are running good but most of the smaller creeks are dry.  Pack water for the day, camp next to the fork is my plan for this year. The Middle Fork is known for many major stream crossings, so bring the appropriate footwear.


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JoshOP Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 1:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks SW Mtn backpacker!  Is there some sort of loop trail near Middle Fork?  Are the trails well-marked?
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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 3:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Scratch Bandelier.  I called the visitor center and they said people are coming back early because the trails are so ugly from the fires and floods.  I'm glad I found this out before I ventured out there.
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skinewmexico Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 01 2013, 5:43 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

All the places I know are still snowed in, for the most part.

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Con men understand that their job is not to use facts to convince skeptics but to use words to help the gullible to believe what they want to believe. - Thomas Sowell
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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 9:14 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(JoshOP @ May 01 2013, 11:58 am)
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Thanks SW Mtn backpacker!  Is there some sort of loop trail near Middle Fork?  Are the trails well-marked?

Trails were well-marked as of 5 weeks ago when I backpacked it but getting into the middle fk, the trail meanders alongside the river.  

If you only have 2 days of backpacking, then an in-and-out using 729 to the Middle Fork (157 but it follows the river) up to Jordan Hot Sp is probably best to get the full Gila experience, plus be assured of water.  You could make it a loop by hiking downstream the last day to the Visitor's Center where there's another really hot spring.  There's a 3-day option but not sure if your flight times would allow it.  Remember, there's about 4 hours on the road from Albuquerque, especially on Sunday.

One popular 3-day loop right now is use 164 to 156 go over the Middle Fork (bring your water for the day) via a camp in the Meadows; depending how strong you feel are the first day can be up from the West Fork to intersect the above, or, a bit shorter, avoid the West Fork and get to 164 past the bridge west of the Visitors center (not the Gila Cliff Dwelling themselves).  Then do the stream crossings downstream to Jordan Hot Springs for another camp (it'll be popular but there's more camps further downstream), then a relatively short day out using "Little Bear" trail 729 which merges to 164.  Keep going downhill until you hit the road.  If you left your car by the bridge then you are there but if you left your car closer to the West Fork, there's about a mile of road (go on the left since Cliff Dwelling visitors will be incoming).

You may want to bring a swimsuit if planning to use the wilderness Hot Spring (Jordan).  On your way out, there's a commercial hot spring but I found it made me sleepy.  Ditto with a new microbrewery at the road junction.  Good stuff but you have a twisty winding road to deal with.

Also for water treatment (filter and chemical), bring a coffee filter to prefilter Middle Fork river.  There's still some ash from last years huge fire upstream and I've seen filters clog up in about 3 seconds.  I chemically treated/boiled but had a perpetual grey last gulp of water.

Plus my group has found that quick drying synthetic mesh boots or trailrunners work the best in the middle fork.  If you go 3-day, I'd bring some lightweight trailrunning type gaiters to minimize pebbles getting into your footwear.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 9:37 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Manzano Mtns. would be easy to get to and quieter than Sandias. But I think you could find a quiet corner of the Sandias and have a great time.

Pecos Wilderness is the best place in the state. You could drive up the Pecos River pretty easily and you'd really enjoy the scenery. Snow has always been an issue for me there in May, but you might get lucky. If there is a lot of snow in the Pecos, you might look at the White Mountain Wilderness further south.

Gila is really far away, but you'd remember it forever. Would be a brutal drive though.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 9:43 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've been to the Pecos Wilderness in *late* May several times--snow is *always* an issue, even in light snowfall years.

If one could be satisfied with a lower-elevation trip, though, you could go over Hamilton Mesa to Beatty's flat and basecamp there. There are fantastic views of the Truchas Peaks from Hamilton Mesa.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 10:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for all the replies, friends.  I think we've made a decision. We're going to drive out of Alb about 11am and head south for Gila.  We're hoping to arrive at Cliff Dwellings with enough time to look around a little... then we're going to grab our packs and head out from the TJ Corral trail head and just hike until we find a comfortable spot to sleep.  We'll have about 8 liters of water and a Katadyn Hike Pro (I will use a coffee filter to pre-treat, but I wasn't anticipating having to treat the water for viruses too.  Is that necessary?)  We'll probably continue on the next day and try some of SW Mtn backpacker's suggestions and return to the trail head early Sunday morning.

I'm looking forward to this.  Thanks for the suggestions, guys.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 12:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The Middle Fork drains from the wilderness so there should be minimal, if any, virus issues; there are backpackers but assuming most know to do their business away from the river.  From TJ, you can dry-camp right before descending the Little Bear trail, plus we saw a couple dry camp in Little Bear in an stove alcove ... just don't do it if raining.  

If running late, there's always car-camp site of Grapevine and another site, a few miles south of the Visitor center (could stealth crash at TJ too, it's pretty deng remote).  Remember to fill up with gas at Truth or Consequences, though you can detour to Silver City in a pinch.  There's a gas pump at Doc Campbells (before you hit the visitor center) ... but not sure if there's gas and prices are pretty high.   REI Albuquerque is really the only place to get canister fuel if needed.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 1:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here is a link to my web page.  Towards the bottom of the home page in the middle column are links to some NM hikes in Gila, Sandia, San Pedro Parks, Valle Vidal.  All have USGS topos with trails, some have some other goodies.

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Charlie
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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 4:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks again, SW Mtn backpacker.   We are both planning to wear our trail running shoes.  They're knobby with rock plates in the soles, but they're very breathable.   We'll look for those campgrounds if we come in late.  And I just found out I can definitely take my jetboil flash on the plane, but I can't take fuel, so we'll stop by that REI on the way out of town.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 02 2013, 4:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the link, ChasWill.  I noticed all of the Arkansas hikes.  I've lived between Kansas City and Jefferson City, Missouri for the last decade.  I've spent a lot of time in the Ozarks.. particularly the Boston Mountains.  We just got back from a trip to the Buffalo a few weeks ago.  

No matter where I end up in this world, I'll always come back to those Ozark hills.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 06 2013, 10:23 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

@SW Mtn backpacker, just wanted to let you know that we arrived about 4pm at TJ Corral and hiked in on Little Bear Canyon trail.  We were getting worried that we were going to be stuck in the canyon after dark, but we finally made it out and arrived at some really great campsites.   In fact, they were so nice, we didn't end up leaving there until 3pm the next day.  The weather was perfect and sort of just lazed around enjoyed the surroundings.  Wow, what a beautiful place!  There is SO much left to explore.  I can't wait to go back down there.  Thanks for all the good advice.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 06 2013, 11:01 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(JoshOP @ May 06 2013, 8:23 am)
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@SW Mtn backpacker, just wanted to let you know that we arrived about 4pm at TJ Corral .. can't wait to go back

Cool.  Glad you all had a good time.  It's backpackable year-round, just account for potentially flooding rains/thunderstorms in July-early Aug (the desert "monsoon" season powered by eastern Pacific storms and hurricanes off Baja) and winter can get cold if those Rockies winter storms are powerful enough to get past the Mogollan Ridge.


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In wildness is the preservation of the world. - Henry Thoreau
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