Peak Bagging

We have hiked countless trails in New Mexico since we moved here, but, until today we had never done the hike that leads to the summit of Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest point at 13,161 feet. It came up a number of times in discussions of things we needed to do, but somehow we never fit it in. The trailhead at Taos Ski Valley is a 3-hour drive from Albuquerque, too long to make it a day hike. We could camp overnight somewhere nearby or get a motel in Taos. Funny thing is, when we finally made it happen it was a spur of the moment decision.

We had two days in a row with nothing scheduled and decided Taos would be a nice getaway. Wheeler Peak was a possibility, but not something we felt we had to do. A couple of years ago we had hiked partway up the trail as far as Williams Lake. We knew the lake would be a nice destination on a hot summer day. We could try for the peak, but if we didn’t make it, we wouldn’t berate ourselves.

Well, it was some work but now we can congratulate ourselves that we bagged that rugged, imposing peak. It’s 4 miles to the top, starting at 10,000 feet elevation, for a 3000+ elevation gain in those four miles. We had been warned about the winds and cold temperatures up there and came prepared. Even so, it was almost impossible to stand more than a few minutes on the summit point. Views from that elevation are astounding but, unfortunately, today’s skies were overcast during the time we were up there and our summit photos didn’t turn out so well. I was just thankful that a rainstorm didn’t develop, which is a frequent occurrence in the summer.

Barely getting started. Wheeler Peak is peeking through the trees in the distance.
In mileage, this turnoff from Williams Lake to the peak is the halfway point but in effort it seems like just the beginning of the tough climb.
Getting higher above WIlliams Lake.

I was sure glad to see that flag waving up there in front of me on the rocky summit.
Had to take a selfie at the summit because it was too cold to wait for Lee to arrive.

Author: bjregan

Enjoying retirement activities. Main goals for retirement are to stay spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

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