May 25, 2013

Got up very early and drove up to the Ghost Ranch area where we were supposed to meet some people for a day hike on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). However, once we arrived, we realized the directions to the location where we were supposed to meet them were somewhat confusing.  After spending a good 45 minutes driving all over the place hoping to spot these people, we finally gave up. However, since we drove a good three hours to get there and didn’t want to waste the trip, we came up with an alternate plan.

Ghost Ranch is located on New Mexico Hwy. 84. , a couple of miles NNW of Abiquiu Reservoir. The CDT crosses Hwy. 84 from the west, almost directly across the highway from the ranch. At that point, the CDT runs along side and on passed the ranch, assuming you intend to hike the wilderness part of the CDT up to Cumbres Pass, Colorado. Apparently, some guide books have you hiking along Hwy. 84 up to Chama and then taking the scenic train ride from Chama to Cumbres Pass. We actually passed a number of thru-hikers who chose to walk along the shoulder of Hwy. 84 to get to Chama. And when I say “shoulder,” I am being very generous because the shoulder didn’t look much more than three feet wide. I can’t think of a more dangerous way for a hiker to get to Chama. All it would take is one driver, temporarily distracted by a smartphone with an incoming text message, and a hiker or two on that very narrow shoulder, and…

Since we were in the area, we headed west on Forest Road 151, which doubles as the CDT, and drove down to the Big Eddy Boat Take-Out. Those who want to float the Rio Chama put their boats in somewhere up-river (not sure where) and Big Eddy is apparently their destination.

Afterwards, we drove back to Hwy. 84 and crossed over to check out Ghost Ranch. This is Georgia O’Keefe country and, if you’ve ever been exposed to her work, it won’t take you long to see why. Ghost Ranch has been used for numerous Hollywood movies, too, such as, City Slickers. The landscapes are beautiful but not sure what that cabin is all about. I guess it was a prop for one of the movies.

Click here for the next part of the trip’s trail map

From Ghost Ranch, we drove up to Chama and then on up Hwy. 17 to Cumbres Pass in Colorado. With the elevation gain on the way, we moved from stark, desert landscapes to lush, green landscapes. The changeover was impressive. We could see there was still a lot of snow in the higher elevations of the San Juan Mountains, too.

My hiking buddy and I have talked about camping at Trujillo Meadows, in the Cumbres Pass area of Colorado, and backpacking up to Red Lake using the Red Lake Trail. Since we were this close, we decided to drive up and check it out. We knew Trujillo Meadows was closed to camping all last year so they could clear dead-fall, but when we arrived, we were surprised to see it was still closed to camping.

However, we could still drive through the place, which we did, and parked down near a wooden railroad trestle where the CDT continues to the north. We walked across Hwy. 17 and took a very short hike up to an overlook, where there was still plenty of snow blocking parts of the trail. While taking pics from the overlook, we noticed a tree with Christmas decorations still hanging from the branches. First time I’d seen anything like that. It was pretty cool, really.

Meet two guys at the overlook who were waiting for a couple of CDT thru-hikers. They were going to take them into Chama to eat, resupply, and probably get a hot shower. The thru-hikers showed up while we were there and we had a nice chat with them before they left.

Final destination was the short drive up Hwy. 17  to the turnoff for the Red Lake Trailhead… and then the long drive back to Albuquerque.

Click the first pic in any of the galleries to start the manual slideshow.