September 8, 2006 (#44)

Home Private: Forums Highpoint Discussions New Mexico-Wheeler Peak September 8, 2006 (#44)

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      highpointersclub
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      [Ed: Imported from Americas Roof ‘Summit Trip Reports’ forum]
      [By: Will M. on September 24 2006 at 7:06 PM]

      This visit was the long awaited return to Wheeler after my visit last summer was spent hanging out in my tent due to the flu. Felt good to be back!

      Once again I convinced 3 of my crazy Cascade hiking buddies into going with me. We arrived in Albuquerque on Thursday and drove to Taos into a terrific thunderstorm complete with spectacular lightning. Couldn’t wait to get to 11,000′ to see it up close!

      Seattle is having a record-breaking dry spell this summer, and it turned out that each of the 4 days spent in NM or CO had more rain than all summer in Seattle.

      Knowing the day would most likely bring stormy weather as it wore on, we decided on an 8AM trailhead start. Breakfast was found at the same Mexican restaurant where we ate dinner. The day was cloudy, cool, and misty, kind of reminded us of home. We were joined by two brothers of one of my buddies, who drove down from Colorado Springs. So with only one other car in the Williams Lake trailhead, we headed up.

      The trail is well marked and guidance from any of the HP guidebooks isn’t really necessary, but were used anyway. There is a well-defined trail all the way to the lake. From the lake, we turned left and continued to follow the climbers trail. It was easy enough to follow, and in places where it got undefined, the way was not hard to guess…up! It joins with the Bull-of-the-Woods trail on the ridge about 1/4 mile from the summit. We were all there in 2’45”.

      The weather got worse as the mist turned to rain than sleet, and the wind increased to about 30 MPH. The frozen precipitation on the grass also reminded us of home! Luckily there was no thunder or lightning. We took our photos, signed the register, had a little snack, and headed down. There is a nice wind barrier at the summit, but with 6 of us, we couldn’t all fit. No visibility at all.

      The return trip was uneventful. Passed a couple of people heading to the lake, but no other summiters this day. Changed clothes at the trailhead and headed of to the Great Sand Dunes NP where the weather cooperated the next day.

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