I’m now up to August 12. Sorry it’s taking so long, but I’m busy adventuring.
Today I climbed Mt. Taylor.
In one of my photos along the Narrows Rim Trail you may have noticed a big mountain in the background.
That was Mt. Taylor, named after President Zachary Taylor. Wikipedia claims its elevation is 11,305 feet.
It was maybe 20 miles or so away and worth a short day trip. Getting there was a bit of a challenge since it was just a dirt/rock road for the last 5 miles or so. Having a Subaru really helped.
It wasn’t clear to me just where the trail was. Here’s the topo map of the area.
However, I didn’t have a lot of faith in it. That gray drawn-in road is new since the topo map was first made. The blue trail marks an old road, but newer guide books talk about how the trail has been rerouted. And they didn’t give me any warm, fuzzy feelings.
Even the trailhead had be moved (I’ve added that in red in the lower left.
But off I went. The start of the trail was a nice pine alpine forest.
Around Gooseberry Spring things got interesting. There were myriads of trail (some footpaths, some old roads). I did my best to figure out the trail. At some points there’d been blue arrows (but not very often), and eventually I hadn’t seen one in a while.
I was lost. Oh, I wasn’t lost-lost, just lost. I didn’t know quite precisely where I was, and I knew I was not on the path I wanted to be on, so I was “lost”. But I knew how to get to where I wanted to be, so I wasn’t “lost-lost”. I’d gone over that tail of a ridge in the south, so all I needed to do was go north until I hit it again, and then follow the high points uphill until I eventually hit the trail.
At one point that required rolling under a barbed-wire cattle fence. But then I was in a field, on the track of the ridge, and things were fine from there.
Here’s the view of the peak of Mt. Taylor once I “found” myself.
As I kept climbing I eventually passed through a small saddle as my ridge joined the main ridge of Mt. Taylor. Here’s the view just approaching the saddle.
And here’s the view just over the saddle.
From there is was just basic slogging uphill, with spectacular views, or course.
It also took a bit of forethought for my feet. The trail surface had a lot of volcanic bits (Mt. Taylor is a stratovolcano) which get a bit wearing after a while. So I worked hard to either walk on nearby grass (not always possible on a steep slope) or larger rocks.
And then, of course there was “False Summit Syndrome”.
I did make it to the top.
I notice the sign only says 11,301 feet. I’m not fussy; I’ll take either.
And here’s the view from behind the sign.
And here’s a view from the top.
[As always, click for larger versions.]
On the way down, I saw the reason for the cattle fence.
Also on the way down, my feet were killing me. All those volcanic chips really did a number on their sensitivity. I just had to take it slowly and carefully. (I note that the next morning, my feet felt fine.)
As I headed down the ridge, I found out where the rerouted trail was (drawn in in red). And how had I missed it?
Just past the creek from Gooseberry Spring, the trail did a 150° left turn without any blue arrow. Oh, some folks had tried to move some logs/brush to give warning, but I guess I’d just stepped right over it (since there was a perfectly good trail beyond.
Here’s the move you were supposed to get.
The trail comes from there on the left. And then it executes that turn to continue up the middle. No wonder I missed it. (And for anybody who comes across this blog entry before climbing yourself, I hope it saves you some grief.)
Anyways, that’s the highest I’ve ever climbed barefoot. The trail started at about 9,260 feet, so it was about a 2,000 foot elevation gain. My lungs seemed to handle it just fine.
I was a six-mile round trip.