This is how the trail looked at the start. Blue blazes mark the path.
It’s about 6:30 am, temperature is mid-30s.
This is how things looked when the bear started chasing me.
The sun hitting peaks behind me.
I started early, and climbing up a south-facing slope meant the sun did not hit me directly until late morning. This was nice in that things are hot once it shows up in earnest, but bad in that shadows make lousy pictures, so I waited until descending to snap most pics. I’ll show them in reverse chronological order – the proper sequence for going up.
Near Williams Lake. Here, you keep going straight for the lake, or go left and keep climbing for the summit.
Williams Lake from the tree line – roughly 12000-ft, the lake is around 11000-ft.
Occasionally the trail runs through scree. Sometimes the rocks are small, like here, and it’s no big deal. Other times they are bigger and it’s necessary to pick your way across carefully to not twist an ankle.
Those rocks up and to the left are my next goal. By this time my strategy is pretty basic: trudge to the next switchback, pause, wheeze, feel the burn, repeat. Fun times. I’m well into the last third of the trek (but didn’t know HOW far along, can’t see a summit).
I thought about turning back at times, noting how climbers on Mt Everest often get in trouble descending from the peak – having used all their strength going up. Then realized I’m in New Mexico. Shut up and keep going.
This looks to be the last leg up. I hear voices. The guys who passed me earlier are in earshot.
There they are, about two-thirds of the way to the right.
Up on the ridge I see the valley to the north.
There’s still a bit farther to go. The guy on the left is an artist, he and his wife travel in an RV. The guy on the right, Gene, lives near Los Alamos. He comes over once per year for this hike, and started at a different spot from me. I started at Bavarian Village, he hiked the Bull of the Woods Trail, which is longer and starts lower. More info here
Gene is a character. He stands 6’3″, with a big walking stick and bigger dog. We hung out at the summit a while. His lab was friendly to me, but didn’t like other dogs. Sure enough, soon as he tells me that, a guy pops around the corner with two dogs. We scrambled to get his boy muzzled.
Gene shared with me how a controlled burn in Los Alamos about ten years earlier got out of hand and burned an old section along with thousands of acres of countryside – and how erosion and other related issues had devastated that piece of land. He noted that the term used now is prescribed burn, rather than controlled burn.
Treats in the backpack!
It felt good to make the top. The last time I’d done anything like this was climbing Long’s Peak near Estes Park, in 1992, in my 30s. It’s a 14-er (14,000-ft, or higher)
To get an early start, I drove over the night before and slept in the trailhead parking lot. It was a one-hour drive, and it’s not like there would have been traffic issues early the next morning, but it was nice to just wake up, roll out, and go.
And that’s what you can do when you live in your car.
The Bavarian – nice place.