I've been poking around New Mexico for the past week, spending one night in the Jemez area (stayed at a campground and dayhiked,) and one 3 day solo backcountry trip in Bandelier National Park.
Jemez was beautiful. Weather in the upper 40's both days I was there, lower 30's the one night I stayed in the campground. Hiked in to Spence Hot Springs (very short walk, but what a great thing to do - soak in a natural hot spring with snow all around. Lots of snow in the high country.
Left after Spence and made the drive over to Bandelier. Beautiful area, got there around 2:00, and made my first camp only 2 miles in. Cold, clear night with a huge full moon. This was the night of the eclipse, and I was stoked to be out, camping under ancient cave dwellings. I was the only person in the backcountry for the entire time I was out, and the park rangers thought I was a little crazy for going out in the cold and snow. They actually freaked me out a little, talking about all the snow (they said a foot) and how cold it was up in the mountains. I actually decided to wear my mukluks in, based on their descriptions of the snow in the backcountry. We'll get to that in a second. So I found a spot just as the sun was setting, literally had caves right above me, and laid down in my hammock to wait for the eclipse. Only problem was that was so comfortable in my hammock, I fell asleep by 7:00 PM and woke up too late. The moon was blazing, not a cloud in the sky, and I missed it!
So, the mukluks. Mukluks are made for cold, for powder, for ice. They are not made for the slushy wet 2-5 inches of snow they had here in New Mexico. Halfway in I realized I had made a mistake, but decided to gut it out and wear them anyway. Mukluks soak up water like crazy, and there were 23 river crossings (7 the first day) and a lot of slushy snow. By the time I made my first camp, my feet were swimming and my mukluks weighed about 10 lbs each. And they don't dry easily, especially when it is in the upper 20s.
Day two, I started toward my assigned area, 12 miles into the backcountry. Around river crossing 18, the frozen ice on top of the rocks in the middle of the river collapsed as I was hopping across, and both boots went into the water. Now I was REALLY wet, and in the middle of a no camping area, with 10 miles still to go. I made the next camping zone and the sun was out, so I decided to try to dry things out, and then just decided to stay there. It was a beautiful spot, and I wasn't trying to kill miles, just spend some time solo in the woods. I was disappointed that I didn't get to see some of the things I had planned on, but there was no way I was going to make it that far in those boots, and I was still in the backcountry and having a great time, even if my feet were a swollen soggy mess. And then it started raining. It rained most of the night, and started back up in the morning as I was packing up. But I enjoyed every minute, and have the pics to prove it! I have video as well, but it will take some time to edit, and with me on the road, it may take a while.
I highly recommend the backcountry here. The only problem is that there are no fires allowed. I missed my campfire. But it is a beautiful place, and I plan to finish it. I will be back.
In Santa Fe right now, planning my next hike and watching the weather.