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Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

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Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby sad2 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:11 pm

I'm thinking about hiking Wheeler Peak in New Mexico this weekend.

Looking for some beta.

For those that have done this peak

1. I'm looking at Bull-of-the-Woods Trailhead. Does it require 4wd? Or is it paved? Or somewhere in between? Will I need high clearance?

2. How is the drive from Denver? I've never been south of Colorado Springs on 25?

3. Any information on recent conditions? Websites that might provide such info?

4. Lodging recommendations in the area?

5. Restaurants?

Thanks for any information.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby Monster5 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:38 pm

sad2 wrote:I'm thinking about hiking Wheeler Peak in New Mexico this weekend.

Looking for some beta.

For those that have done this peak

1. I'm looking at Bull-of-the-Woods Trailhead. Does it require 4wd? Or is it paved? Or somewhere in between? Will I need high clearance?

Paved at the TH. Higher on the road (for other routes), it is washboard, dirt 2wd.

2. How is the drive from Denver? I've never been south of Colorado Springs on 25?
Good. I25 all the way to Raton. A straight shot smaller highway (WATCH OUT for pronghorn) to Cimarron. A scenic typical windy mountain road to Eagle's Nest. A quick little valley stretch before re-entering windy mountain highways. OR take La Veta Pass from Walsenberg and head south in the San Luis Valley as a far less scenic, but probably easier and faster option

3. Any information on recent conditions? Websites that might provide such info?
None but I'd guess similar to southern Sangres (light dusting that quickly melted). Somebody on Summitpost could probably tell you quickly if you don't get a response here.

4. Lodging recommendations in the area?
Not sure about the hotels, but plenty of campgrounds all the way up. There are signs "discouraging car-camping once past Taos SV.

5. Restaurants?
There is a good burger joint/bar at Taos SV that is open during the summer. It was a ghost town except for that place and European-reserved classier places. Otherwise, Taos (30 min away) has plenty of options.
Thanks for any information.
"Mountains are the means, the man is the end. The goal is not to reach the tops of mountains, but to improve the man." - Walter Bonatti

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby sad2 » Mon Oct 03, 2011 6:48 pm

Monster5 Thanks for the quick and informative reply.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby MtHurd » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:15 am

The Bull o the Woods route (BOTW) is a nice scenic route, but it is longer than the Williams Lake route (BOTW will also require some elevation loss after you pass by Frazier Mountain). I haven't done it yet, but if you don't want to lose all of that elevation, just take the ridge all the way from Frazier Mountain up to Wheeler (that will be my next route). There will probably be some scrambling but not bad. Williams Lake route used to be very short but a pain because there really was no trail after Williams Lake other than a steep scree slope. That has changed and the trail is now very nice. The road is paved all the way to the trailhead of BOTW. If you decide on the Williams Lake route, the road is dirt but well maintained and any car can get to the trailhead. On Sept 11, 2011 I did the BOTW route and came down the Williams Lake Route. The only negative there is the 2.5 mile walk on the road to get back to the BOTW trailhead.

The burger place mentioned above is called The Stray Dog Cantina. Their burgers are excellent. It is not too far from the main ski lift and not too far from the BOTW trailhead.

Your best route to the trailhead is to take is to take 160 from Walsenburg to Ft. Garland, then go south on 159 (turns into 522 in NM) to Taos. There is a shortcut to Taos Ski Valley. From the town of Arroyo Hondo, take a left on the Hondo Seco Rd (State Route B143), make a left on 230 and drive it until it meets up with 150 to the ski valley. The road is very narrow and goes through neighborhoods but it will save you some time. If you would rather not do that, just make a left on 150 on the north end of Taos.

Hiking Wheeler from the Red River side is also an option. The trail is about the same distance as the BOTW route. You also have two options, the East Fork Trailhead and the Middle Fork Trailhead. Both are about the same distance, I'd probably say the East Fork route is a little better. The route doesn't have the high views as the BOTW route but it does take you past two very nice lakes (Lost Lake and Horseshoe Lake). Red River is a nice mountain town and there will be some nice empty hotels in it. If you decide on Red River, just make a right on 38 in Questa and you'll be there in 13 miles.

There was snow on the summit of Wheeler on Sept. 11, but only about the last 500 ft. It melted off in a couple of days, then snowed again. Most likely by now the snow will be permanent near the summit, but will not require anything other than waterproof shoes.

Red River Cam

Wheeler, Walter, and Old Mike from the BOTW trail on Sept 11, 2011.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby abqben56 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:59 am

Just to clarify, the BOTW trailhead is at the end of the main parking lot of the ski area. The other road is well graded but might pose issues for a regular car if there's ice.

The forecast is for a storm to blow in Thursday and to linger, so there's likely to be some snow up there, probably not much but you never know for sure. The Taos Ski Valley webcam of Kachina Peak (~12500) shows a few patches of snow right now.

You can actually avoid the road if you go up BOTW and down Williams lake by following the ski catwalk (Rubezahl) along Hondo Creek from the bottom of the Kachina lift down to the main lift. For what it is, it's pretty scenic.

+1 on the Stray Dog. Orlando's at the north end of Taos is also a favorite of mine and not far from where you rejoin 522.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby Matt Lemke » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:16 am

PM'd
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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby ChrisinAZ » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:27 pm

Hey Matt,

Brad and I didn't do BotW due to time and weather, but I believe the trailhead is just at the end of some large smooth dirt parking lots shortly after the pavement ends, in the lower part of the ski town. It's a bit of a confusing area, but you can probably ask around if need be...

The fastest way down there would actually be via I-25 to Walsenburg CO, then US-160 W to Fort Garland CO, then CO-159 S (which becomes NM 522). I think it took us all of 5 1/2 hours from Longmont to the trailhead, very reasonable. If you're in less of a rush, I imagine the drive in from Cimarron would be quite nice though, too.

I'd check the LoJ page for Wheeler, and click the link for snow depth, that'll give you a very approximate idea of snow conditions. However, if you have what we brought for Vermilion, I can't see you having a problem. Even the shorter and steeper Williams Lake route posed absolutely no problems for us with a few inches of snow on the ground, and we just barebooted it.

I can't speak for lodging (maybe Raton or Taos, the latter probably being expensive) but we had a delicious bit of New Mexican food at Orlando's, on US-64 NW of Taos. Do yourself a favor and go there for some great post-hike grub! :)
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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby roguejackalope » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:43 pm

Backup/post-hike plan already? Make time to investigate these. Shhh.
36.530879 N, 105.712096 W
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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby Greenhouseguy » Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:45 pm

As you're driving up NM150 to the Taos Ski Valley, there are 3 campgrounds along the Rio Hondo River; Lower Hondo, Cuchillo de Medio, and Italianos. They'll be closed for the winter, so I presume that you don't have to pay to camp. The down side is that the toilets will be locked. I stayed at the Cuchillo de Medio, and the best thing I can say about it is that it's a place to flop. I saw a few trout in the river, if you're into that sort of thing.
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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby roguejackalope » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:04 pm

Greenhouseguy wrote:As you're driving up NM150 to the Taos Ski Valley, there are 3 campgrounds along the Rio Hondo River; Lower Hondo, Cuchillo de Medio, and Italianos. They'll be closed for the winter, so I presume that you don't have to pay to camp. The down side is that the toilets will be locked. I stayed at the Cuchillo de Medio, and the best thing I can say about it is that it's a place to flop. I saw a few trout in the river, if you're into that sort of thing.

There's also primitive campsites roadside on the way up that valley, before the ski area, if you don't want facilities.
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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby sad2 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:21 pm

Matt Lemke wrote:PM'd


Thanks Matt. PM Sent.

I am flexible on the schedule. A lot will depend on the storm that passes through later this week.


Thanks all for the responses.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby MtHurd » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:27 pm

Lifts West in Red River shows that you can get a hotel room for $50. If you still choose to do the BOTW trail it would be about an hour from the hotel to the trailhead. If you choose to go from the Red River side, you would be about 15 minutes from the trailhead.

http://liftswest.com/

And if you want to make a weekend of it and hike another day, I would recommend a hike in the Latir Peak Wilderness.

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