Good day fine folks, thought I would share my experience of a great trip into the Pecos Wilderness, in the heart of the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico!
We hiked for 3+ hours from the Cowles trailhead up trail 271, reaching Lake Stewart after 6.5 miles. It was just geting dark around that time, so we setup our shelters pretty quick, unfortunately in a bit of wind.
My backpacking partner was in a nice Go-lite bottomless tent type of shelter, I think we both had our shelters up in the same amount of time.
I was using my trusty Chinook 12x9.6 tarp, with DIY sock and DIY tablecloth inside. The sock was a necessity for the weekend, the temps were already plenty low, but the wind amplified it. It got down to 25 overnight....
Sorry, I messed up and didn't get too many detailed shots of my rig....
We had our dinners, and decided to make a fire to keep us busy instead of going to bed too early.....me and my buddy were laughing at ourselves and how terrible of a fire it was....next night's fire was much better.
My sleeping patterns for the weekend were kinda off, I was mostly kept awake by the wind...my Insulbright PLUQ wasn't snugged up enough to the hammock, so my rear was a lil cold. I used a pad the second night and I was warmer, but maybe a bit less comfy.
Dawn at Lake Stewart
Saturday morning we had breakfast and started loading up daypacks to hike to Lake Katherine @ 11, 742 ft. After a couple trail junctions we noticed that the snowpack was going to be a factor for the entire hike, but it was fairly dry snow and our shoes were resisting the water well. At some points we were postholing into the snow about 6-8 inches. The snow also made the trail hard to follow at some points, but we kept our heads and stayed on trail.
Finally made it to Lake Katherine, water was drunk, food was eaten, pictures were taken....
The hike back down from the lake took a lot less time....we made it back "home" and tried to relax and eat for a bit.
My buddy Cesar started to gather wood for a good fire and I showed him how to build a self-feeding fire, which if you have not tried, you must! Just google it, it's a fire that requires no tinkering, no adding wood to keep it going. You will end up with a bed of coals only rivaled by Hades...great for boiling water....I only had to get pot NEAR the coals to get it boiling...crazy hot.
It was nice and calm while we were hanging out and eating, but when we bedded down the wind started to pick up big time.
So in the AM (wind was even stronger), when I finally decided to crawl out of the hammock sock, Cesar was quickly taking down his tent and gear because right near both of us was a massive tree that was pulling it's root ball out of ground, creating this huge crack in the ground! Didn't get a pic of it when it was rising, but Cesar saw it rise up to six inches out of the ground as we left...
So we got all packed up but wanted to have breakfast first....so I go over to our kitchen area where we had been eating all weekend and fire up the alky stove. The wind was still blowing plenty hard and I started to hear a tree behind me creaking and groaning. I turned around and identified which tree was making the noise and decided to keep an eye on it. It was only ten seconds later that the **** thing blew down on top of me!!!! no joke! I turned around to see it coming straight on me, I scrambled away and jumped for cover as a branch tagged my arm. It was friggin nuts. So of course we had to take pics and video for the complete experience!
It fell right where I was sitting, put several holes in my sleeping pad, broke my tupperware bowl, bent my pot lid, and knocked over the lit alky stove almost causing another mini-disaster!
So of course we are freaked out now, the wind is still blowing hard so we decide to skeedaddle and have breakfast in a "safer" locale.
It was kind of a tiring hike back down, my ankles/tendons/calves/ligaments were screaming in protest of the descent.
It was a great trip, I appreciated my buddy Cesar being there, he helped me out a couple times with hot water, clams (whoobuddy!), finishing my boil on his stove and lent me a guyline so I could bring my tarp "doors" in. Thanks man!
Thanks to HF for all of the inspiration and tips also!
Picture credits to Cesar!