When I initially shared my plans for hiking New Mexico in August, I received skepticism from people not familiar with the landscape.
But northern New Mexico is not a land of deserts. It is a land of high grass parks, ponderosa forests, and aspen groves. And since Bandelier National Monument I’ve routinely climbed to altitudes of over 10k feet.
And the elks bugling, the very start of aspen leaves turning yellow and needing to wear fleece at the start of the day indicates the imminent arrival of Autumn.
Summer is not completely gone of course. Wildflowers still dot the landscape and the occasional fauna indicates the transitional zone between the cool mountains and drier climates.
Following the CDT for this stretch is a different experience than when I hiked it in 2006. The obscure jeep tracks and overgrown and nearly forgotten USFS trails are now a path that is (mainly) blazed, marked, and a delight to follow.
A spur route up the CDT took me three miles into Colorado at Cumbres Pass so I could resupply in Chama, NM.
Cumbres Pass is perhaps a more natural border between New Mexico and Colorado rather than a surveyor’s line. The terrain does not differ and the green chile in Chama tells me where the culinary border lies, too.
Tomorrow I leave the CDT and start my journey south and east back to Santa Fe. The lower, hotter, and drier elevations of the impressive Rio Grande Gorge aren’t far away; but the highest peaks of New Mexico await as well.
The journey continues.