Wheeler Peak, the highest point in NM is one of the more popular hikes in the area, and the trails up it are well traveled. But the route I wanted to take was not the typical one. I was lured into taking a more circuitous route by an unfound cache on Lake Fork Peak, GC5779B. This cache had gone over two years without a find, and was right up my alley terrain wise: scrambling up rocky ridges to a high mountain peak. The other really attractive aspect of hitting this cache was that it presented us with a very interesting looking ridge-walk route to Wheeler. Wheeler Peak is on the eastern side of a cirque of high peaks that surround Williams Lake. Lake Fork Peak was on the western side of that cirque. The logical route would be to walk the ridge-line, passing several un-named peaks along the way. ON a map this looked pretty straightforward, but pictures I found online showed that sections of this ridge were rocky, steep and possibly very challenging. It didn't look like any technical 5th class climbing would be required, but certainly 4th class was a possibility, as well as big mountain exposure. Just the kind of stuff I like.
|Some of the worst terrain on the ascent to Lake Fork Peak|
|Lake Fork Peak FTF|
|Starting our Ridge-run|
|Typical rocky bluff "obstacle" along the ridge|
|Some of the rougher terrain along the ridge|
|Cool remote lake south of ridge, in Taos Pueblo Reservation land|
|Knife-edge section of ridge|
The ridge was indeed exposed and dicey at parts, but never outside of our comfort zones. There was one knife-edge like portion that was especially "fun". Would I do it again? Definitely! Would I recommend it to others? Not unless I knew they liked this sort of thing. We ended up having to wait on Old Mike Peak for a good while for the third member of our party to catch up with us. His route was easier, but also a whole lot longer. By this time it was getting late in the afternoon, and the wind was ferociously strong. We tagged Wheeler Peak around 5pm. Definitely not enough tine to descend via the Bull-of-the-woods trail. Oh well, now I have an excuse to come back out here and hike that trail some day. My log on the Wheeler Peak geocache goes into a bit more detail about our route, which you can read if your really care to.
|Old Mike Peak|
|Old Mike Peak|