On the last full day in New Mexico, we climbed in El Rito and then went to Santa Fe. Our plan was to split up and Susan would hang out and have dinner with her friend, Andrea, that lives there and I would drive up to the ski area at the local mountain, Santa Fe Baldy (Elevation 12,632') and get a good trail run in to the summit and back.
All went well on the run and boy would it have been nice to bring the camera up there! That place is beautiful. The trail is great for running and the views! Wow. It had been a few weeks since I had done a more demanding run like this and it felt great. I love running in the mountains!
Trail report: From the parking lot at the ski area, I started running north on the Windsor trail (Trail No. 254). Running didn't last long, as the Windsor trail is really, really steep switch backs for the first mile or so. I had to resort to power hiking this section-tough warm up! Luckily, the trail is pretty flat for the next 4 or 5 miles and I was able to get a nice groove going. It was beautiful terrain as the trail followed the side of a ridge through alpine firs and aspen. Excellent running. Then, the trail steepened a bit as it entered a breathtaking basin that is surrounded on two sides by Santa Fe Baldy (to the north) and Penitente Peak (to the south) causing me to work a bit harder to keep a good pace (luckily, I was better warmed up for this hill then the first one). The trail met up with trail 251, which I ran and sometimes power hiked up and over Baldy's Southeast ridge. Amazing views and a great place to linger. From here, a faint trail cuts off of trail 251 and travels straight up the bald ridge to the summit of Santa Fe Baldy. This section was very demanding and hard to keep a quick pace on. It was o.k. though, it allowed me to take in the views as I plodded along. The final stretch to the summit was the best part as I was rewarded by a beautiful meadow with alpine flowers and a flat section of trail that was easy to run on (always feels special to be running above 12,000 feet and, at that moment, I got to run above 12,500 feet). The summit was worth all the work. The timing was perfect as I got to see the sun set over the Jemez Mountains to the west. The summit meadow was lit like a perfect painting. I was very fortunate to be there at that moment.
Knowing I didn't have much time before dark, I quickly made a retreat down the ridge. The run down and back to the car was a race against light. I lost and had to resort to headlamp which was fine.
I do have to admit that the last few miles were a little tough. I got really sore at the end...I guess I haven't been running as much hills as in the spring.
The car was a welcome sight and I was excited to get back to Susan and hear about her adventure in Santa Fe and tell her about mine on Santa Fe Baldy.
In all, the run was about 14-15 miles and I completed it with a time of 3hrs and 15 minutes. Not bad for an old wimp like me. I had a great time.