Early Season High Country
This is my first year in New Mexico. I’ve been told by many that the high country is quite the fickle bitch in the springtime. I acknowledge this, but rarely listen. I always have to see for myself, and that’s just what I did last weekend.
With snow levels dropping rapidly, I decided a quick overnight in the Pecos Wilderness was in order. I didn’t get off work on Saturday until 3PM, so quickly stopped by the apartment to load my gear and puppy and was on the road just before 4.
I made it to the Jack’s Creek trailhead around 5:45 and hit the trail. The weather was worrying me slightly – it had been cloudy all afternoon and seemed to be worsening, even though the forecast called for only a slight chance of a thunderstorm.
I had originally planned to head to Hamilton Mesa, but stupidly decided to go north instead. Not far along I ran into a day hiker coming from Jack’s Creek, a couple hours ahead. Apparently there were just a few snow drifts to contend with until the creek, but much worse conditions past it. I figured I had just enough time to get to the creek before dark. I’d camp there, then take a branching trail towards Beatty flats the next day and loop back.
About an hour in I hit the intersection with trail 25. The views were nice despite the sky’s cloudy disposition. Not long after, the snow started. It was light, but the wind picked up quickly and the temperature dropped rapidly. I plowed on, still set on making Jack’s Creek.
Over the next couple of miles the snow was off and on. I made it to The creek with a tiny bit of light left…and then the snow really started coming down. I quickly threw up my Sublite a little ways off trail next to the creek. Myself and Flurry scarfed down a quick dry dinner and we hopped into the tent as the snow continued to fall.
I set to work drying Flurry off, as she had insisted on walking into every muddy spot in site. Of course the fresh snow wasn’t helping either. I normally read for a bit before bed, but instead chose to relax and listen to the falling snow.
I woke up several times during the night and knocked snow off the tent walls. It snowed pretty steadily into the early morning hours and finally tapered off. As the sun finally began to rise, I opened the door to survey my surroundings. White!
A few inches fell overnight and covered much of the area. It was unexpected, but beautiful. We took our time eating breakfast and lounging around, having decided I didn’t feel like walking in snow all day and dealing with the inevitable postholing that was to come. And the wet dog. I was happy just to get out, and would make this a quick and short out and back. Not ideal, but shit happens.
We made our way back to the parking area, enjoying the snow blanketed scenery. Flurry, of course, detoured into every mud puddle she saw. We encountered a few elk crossing ahead of us; Flurry’s bark echoed intensely across the entire area.
We were back to the trailhead in just a couple hours and home in a couple more. Although the mileage and length of the trip was ridiculously short, it was still a great night out.