Glamping in the Enchanted Forest

My idea for an overnight getaway was to rent an AirBnb for one night in either Angel Fire or Red River and then hike somewhere the next day in the Carson National Forest. We haven’t done much hiking there because it’s a bit far too far from Albuquerque for a day trip. We could have camped, but I didn’t feel like roughing it.

When I searched for Airbnb rentals there were quite a few, since both towns are close to ski areas and are popular tourist destinations. But one result that popped up captured my attention. A business called Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area in Red River was advertising yurt rentals as a “glamping” experience. Think of glamping as camping for city slickers.

We would have the benefit of spending the night in an isolated clearing in the forest without having to set up a tent or sleep on the ground. The yurt would have a camp stove, basic cooking utensils, bunk beds and water in it. We would need to bring sleeping bags and our food. No running water, no electricity, and no indoor plumbing so we’d still be roughing it to a certain extent. But it sounded like a fun outing so we booked it and made our plans.

When we got to Red River yesterday afternoon the temperature was in the high seventies, which, compared to Albuquerque’s 90-plus degrees, felt quite comfortable. It didn’t take long, though, to work up a sweat. Getting to the yurt was not a simple matter of driving up to the front door and unloading our gear. You have to leave your car at the entrance to the ski area and then hike the backwoods trails to get to your yurt. Ours was a mile and a quarter hike, which turned out to be almost 2 miles because we got lost.

The area is a maze of color coded trails supposedly marked with plastic streamers on trees and trial names that match a map printout. But the letters and numbers on the map were barely legible and some of the trail markers were either missing or in need of repair. Lee had his gear on his back but my only backpack is a small one for day hikes. I knew I would need extra clothes and a warm sleeping bag for the chilly night temperatures and was happy to take advantage of a hand wagon that was available at the parking area to haul gear. Even with that help, though, it was a tough pull uphill and over rough terrain until we finally found our yurt.

Yurt
Sure beats having to pitch a tent and sleep on the ground!
Red River view
A trail near our yurt led us on an evening walk to a couple of nice views, including one overlooking the town of Red River.

Our home for the night was cozy, actually a bit too warm until the sun went down. At 10,000 foot elevation it’s amazing how quickly the temperature drops at night. We’d been sweating that afternoon but by dark were ready for the warmth of our sleeping bags. Overnight temperatures were in the 40’s so by breakfast time we had put on all our extra layers of clothing and were hunting for that first spot of sunlight coming through the trees to warm us up.

Wagon
Pulling my wagon back down to the car the next morning was much easier, especially since we knew the way.

Our hike today was a pleasant 6-mike trek without too much elevation gain. It started up a valley along a tributary to the Red River. We had views along the trail of Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest mountain at 13,159 feet. There were even a couple of small snow fields visible on its crest. But we were content to keep on our valley trail and enjoy the lush meadows beside the stream. It was a perfect day and a wonderful way to end our glamping adventure.

Meadow
Meadow with view of Wheeler Peak.

Mushroom

Fireweed

Bells

Meeting the Challenge

According to the Maps app on my phone, the trailhead where I planned to start hiking was about a mile and a half ahead. A ‘Road Closed’ sign was not what I wanted to see. I hadn’t been up here before, but it didn’t appear that there was any access to the trails except by this road. A couple of cars were parked on the side of the road in front of me and as I got out of my car a pickup truck pulled in behind me. Thinking maybe the driver was a local resident who could offer some advice, I asked him if he knew what was going on. He was as clueless as I was. We decided the only option was to start walking up the road.

On a 95 degree day in August it’s not a pleasant experience to walk on a newly surfaced blacktop road that is being baked by the afternoon sun. My goal was to hike to the radio towers at the top of Roxy Ann peak. It’s a landmark we’ve become familiar with on our many trips to Medford but there are so many other hiking opportunities that we never bothered with these few local trails. This visit, though, wasn’t about hiking. I’d been busy with other priorities and made a last minute decision to get out for what I thought would be a short climb up the shady slopes of the peak.

Trees were few and far between as I trudged up the road. I grabbed every little bit of shade there was. Since I hadn’t been here before I didn’t know how many twists and turns the road would take before the trails started. When I finally got to the first trailhead I could see that the trails didn’t have as many trees as I expected.

I was grateful for the many switchbacks on the trail, even though with all the winding back and forth, it seemed the trail would never get to the top. Finally, there was the base of the first tower and by walking over to the rock outcropping I could look out over the city and enjoy the rewards of all that sweaty labor.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend this way of hiking Roxy Ann peak. But now I can look up there every visit to Medford and remember another challenge met and conquered.