A Shoulder to Climb On

A number of our hikes recently have been on trails through the Rio Puerco Valley that will inevitably have one or more views of Cabezon Peak, a prominent volcanic formation that rises nearly 2000 feet above the valley floor. To reach the summit requires rock climbing expertise beyond our desires and abilities, but we did hike once on a trail that circles the shoulder of the peak. Since we have had it in view so often lately we decided that today’s hike would be a revisit of the trail we had done before.

I only had a vague recollection of our previous Cabezon Peak hike. Seen from a distance it doesn’t look like it would be all that difficult to walk around the shoulder. What I didn’t realize is how much climbing was involved in getting to the shoulder. The first half mile of the trail is very steep and rocky, gaining about 600 feet of elevation. It levels off somewhat, but on the backside there is a challenging stretch over a boulder field. Coming back down was a bit of a knee cruncher but taking it slowly and carefully we were down in time to relax with our lunch break.  A short but rewarding hike that allows us to check off that landmark the next time we view it off in the distance.

Cabezon Peak in the distance on a previous hike.
Road to trailhead.
From the trailhead parking lot.
Section of the steep uphill to the shoulder.
Made it to the shoulder.
It sure is a massive rock formation.
Part of the boulder field.
After circling the peak this is the view back down to the parking lot.


CDT Social Distancing

New Mexico’s share of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) passes through many desolate and deserted landscapes.  It’s an ideal place to practice COVID Death Trap (CDT) social distancing.

On the 7.5 mile hike we did today we saw a couple of cows but not a single human being.  I don’t think New Mexico cows are COVID carriers but they were more than happy to give us a wide berth, anyway.

We were on the CDT itself only for the last couple of miles.  The majority of the hike went through a badlands area called the La Lena Wilderness Study Area. Until we got to the CDT section there was no marked trail.  Instead,  we were following a GPS track downloaded from the Albuquerque Senior Center Hiking Groups website to a tracking app on my phone.  We found ourselves wandering off track a couple of times but quickly got back to where we needed to be.

In this type of terrain a GPS track is pretty much just a suggestion, anyway.  There are multiple ways to wander around the mesas and eroded rock formations, gaping up at the endlessly interesting shapes silhouetted against the bright New Mexico sky.

CDT markers out here aren’t fancy.
Carved on a rocky cliff face.
Ugly face. A COVID threat?
Cabezon Peak in the distance

Thank you, New Mexico, for providing such a pleasurable day and location to practice social distancing.