NNML – Pt 2 – Top of the loop

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.

All the entries:


11 Replies to “NNML – Pt 2 – Top of the loop”

  1. Hey Paul, this is Gary. I met you just north of Lagunitas. I’m wondering how you fared in that storm that night. I did fine but had some drying to do the next day. I just got home and had a great hike. It was great to meet you!

  2. P.S. I’m headed out today to walk the ~350-mile “pilot trail” of the Great Plains Trail, Bear Butte, S.D. down to Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

    P.P.S. That YouTube story should appear on the Trek sometime this week. I finished it about a week ago and the editor is just waiting for someone to produce a feature image.


  3. Hi Paul- We are living your Northern New Mexico route descriptions. So few people and such a grand landscape ~ looks like a wonderful hike away from the current world madness.
    We plan on doing a similar route soon. Many thanks for sharing your experiences

  4. Shhh don’t tell everyone about my adopted home state. Just kidding, glad you are enjoying it.
    And thanks for sharing the awesome loop. Not interested in the dry areas myself but will definitely do sections.

  5. Thanks for sharing your great trip w/us–good ed for people who may have stereotypical images of NM! & what good news about the CDT improvements :- ) Happy Hiking

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