Backpacking on the Borrego Trail

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Tesuque Creek Crossing

May 5, 2012 –I crawl out of bed as the sunlight reaches the top of the far ridge.  It is quite chilly, but we decide to forego a morning campfire, since we will be hiking after breakfast.   We eat our breakfast – granola, a smoothie, and hot tea- as we sit on boulders in the sunshine.

Yesterday afternoon Clifford and I backpacked in on the Borrego Trail to camp at the same spot we camped when we came up here in September.  We had intended to backpack to Stewart Lake in the Pecos Wilderness, but found out just before we left that that there was most likely snow on the trail – over 3 feet just a couple of weeks ago and it has not yet melted off.  So, we changed our directions and drove up Hyde Park Road behind Santa Fe to the Borrego Trailhead and hiked up the Borrego Trail instead.   Uphill and down, I can tell that I’m not in as good condition as I’d like to be.  At the Tesuque Creek crossing, the water coming down the creek was higher than I’ve seen before, so Clifford carried my pack over for me.  Then we made our way off the trail and upstream to our campsite.   We set up camp and soon had a cheery campfire going.   Dinner was refried beans and raman noodles – easy stuff to fix and eat.  After cleaning up, we enjoyed a cup of tea at our campfire.  The moon rose full in the east and Venus to the west was hugely bright.  Soon to bed in our new little backpacking tent – light enough to carry and roomy enough to get in and out of bed with ease.

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Our Cheery Campfire

Now, with the morning sunshine warming the crisp mountain air, we prepare for the hike which will be cross-country using GPS and compass, with our destination being a small mountain meadow.   Clifford has plotted a journey for us, but many deep ravines and steep side hills force us to change our directions.  We see lots of deer sign as we make our way amongst tall ponderosas, dense scrub oak, and scruffy fir trees.  Deadfall and good size rocks abound, making hiking challenging.  Eventually we reach a ridge-top knoll where we rest on a big fallen log and enjoy our lunch of hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and an avocado.

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Cross-country Hiking

Thanks to Clifford’s skills, we are not lost, even though we are a bit off our route.  We soon drop down to the Winsor Trail for an easier route back to camp.  The Winsor Trail traverses the mountain behind Santa Fe from Tesuque to the ski basin and beyond.    As we hike along in the direction of our campsite, the trail crosses the meadow that was our destination.  It is a lovely spot, more open than most of the terrain here, but no water for camping.  Further on is the junction to the Borrego Trail which takes us back toward Tesuque Creek and our campsite.

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Mountain Meadow

On the map, one can see a triangle created by the Borrego Trail, the Bear Wallow Trail and the Winsor Trail.  Each leg of this triangle is about a mile, although the Winsor Trail goes on for many miles either direction of the junctions with the two shorter trails.  The Winsor Trail is a favorite of serious bicyclists and hikers, while the Borrego/Bear Wallow/Winsor triangle is great fun for casual hikers and folks taking their dogs out for a good walk.

Back at camp, we lounge around for the rest of the afternoon, reading and writing a bit.  I love the article in my Outdoor Photographer magazine, ”Realizations”, by Dewitt Jones, photography being a spiritual practice for him, which I totally relate to.  I walk around taking photos of the creek, sunlight in the aspens, little red shooting-stars, and anything else that catches my attention.  Clifford studies his new GPS unit, learning more about its capabilities.   We are surrounded by tall ponderosa and aspens, and I marvel at their beauty.   When the breeze picks up, these 80-100+ foot trees sway in the wind, and I hear one behind our camp making creaking sounds.   Hmmmm….   Hope its roots are well anchored.  As the sun approaches the western horizon, the temperature drops and once again we enjoy a lively campfire, a tasty dinner, and another night of sleeping where the sound that prevails is that of a rough and tumble mountain creek.

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The Trees Are Tall

For anyone wishing to go backpacking or just a good hike, this is a great place. But please please please take all of your trash out with you.  Keep this pristine area clean for the person coming behind you and for your next visit here in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico.

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Intrepid Duo

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