Last week, Taozenqi contacted me to see if I would be interested in a hike around the
Ruidoso, New Mexico area. I gather several were asked and some committed, but as of the night
before the hike, it looked like it was going to be just the two of us. Jim had planned on hiking
the 22 mile long Crest Trail from Nogal Peak TH to Monjeau Peak TH in the White Mountain
Wilderness, spending two nights out on the trail and finishing up early on the 3rd day. Jim had
previously done day hikes of the trail from either end but had never done the center section or thru
hiked it. So the plan was to hike 9 miles or so the first day, 7 or so miles on day 2, then finish
up early on day 3.
After getting dropped at the Nogal TH we set off and were quickly rewarded with great views as
the trail sidehilled around Nogal Peak. The trail became quite overgrown with brush in places and
almost all sidehilling was overgrown with tall grass. Sure made things interesting.
Jim had stashed water at 3 different places on his previous day hikes because the 3 known-to-him
springs along the trail are unreliable. We each started out with 3 litres. In about 3 miles we
came to the first, Turkey Spring.
We're getting up high now and having some really good sidehill views of the valley below. Jim points
out White Sands Missle Range to me. A few miles later we came to Argentina Spring.
Then about 1.5 hours further down the trail, our dogs are barkin', so we take a break under a tree to
tend to them. Somewhere along in here we retrieve one of the water stashes Jim had set out.
I remember Jim asking me if I saw that big pile of bear scat in the trail. I'm guessing this is
what he was talking about.
Around 4 pm or so we leave the trail, hike up into some trees to make camp. This is Jims first outting
with his new ZPacks Cuben tarp. After getting the hammocks up, we make us some supper and
put on some extra layers as the sun fades.
I spend the next little while getting pictures of the sunset, then I walk over to Jims camp to see
what he's up to. He's got a tube of Superglue out. THIS can't good. The soles and uppers have
separated from both boots. After some liberal Supergluing and duct tape he's satisfied they're
good to go. "They're only 17 years old" he says.
The next morning, we've had breakfast, broke camp and ready to head out by 7:45. Back on the trail
and the morning light is creating some great scenery. The trail alternates between grassy hillside
to rugged and wild thru-the-trees type stuff. The 7 miles to Ice Spring we are to hike today is
a lot of uphill.
About 10:30am we come upon a spring Jim didn't know about, as we were in the section he'd not been
on before. Turns out to be the best water source so far and was right on the Crest Trail,
approx. 200 yards to the northwest of where it intersects with South Fork and Bluefront Trails. It was
a poly tube sticking out of the ground with a healthy trickle coming out of it.
We drink our fill, refill the bottles and Jim takes some time to mend his boots a little more.
It's only about 1pm when we reach Ice Spring so we continue on.
Looking back the way we came just then.
Thanks for this picture Jim. I'm going to have it framed. Look at the depth of field in this next picture. Don't
know if you actually knew what you were doing or if it was a fluke. lol
About 2pm the clouds are rolling in and it's turning drizzley. We stop to eat some lunch and
don our rain gear. We've come our planned 7 miles for the day and discuss whether to look for a place
to camp or to just hike the remaining 5 miles or so out. We've done all the hard climbing
all ready. The last 5 miles look to be easy downhill except for the last 1/4 mile uphill to the
parking area where Jims Wife had shuttled his car for us.
We decide to hike out(actually, he left it up to me). The wind had picked up, rain wasn't too bad, but
the next few miles were a lot of exposed, grassy sidehill between stands of trees. So with lightening
flashing around us every now and then, we didn't want to dilly dally around.
I enjoyed hiking in the rain. It was refreshing. It had pretty much quit by the time we reached the last
1/4 mile uphill to the parking lot, so we doffed our rain gear and dumped any excess water we had to
relieve some weight. We were soon spying Jims car, there in the lot.
It was good to get our boots off and into some sandles. Todays 12 mile hike was certainly the most
challenging I've done to date. Thanks for the invite Jim. I enjoyed it.