The Weminuche Wilderness in 2012

Posted by on 09/06/2012

NMD pokes around north of the state line.

by DanO

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DanO and JMar weathering a hail storm in a hot spring.

DanO and JMar weathering a hail storm in a hot spring.

From time to time, the New Mexico Digital crew ventures across the state line, and one of our favorite states is Colorado. Due to the 2012 fire restrictions in New Mexico, our team made several trips to southern Colorado.

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Entering the Weminuche Wilderness

The Weminuche Wilderness was founded in 1975 and is just under 490 thousand acres in size.  Not quite as big or old, as the  Gila Wilderness in southern NM, but a stunning location none the less.

With 3 “Fourteeners” and many hot springs, the San Juan Mountains dominate the Weminuche wilderness. It’s not surprising that the head waters of the Rio Grande—New Mexico’s dominant (and legendary) river begin in these rugged mountains, as these regions are tied closely in geography and culture.

This connection between southern CO and NM is evident at Kip’s restaurant, a great little place in Pagosa Springs. Kip’s is one of the few places not in New Mexico that offers Hatch, NM green chilé, one of the signature flavors of New Mexico cooking.

120729_Marmota_flaviventris_web DanO and Jmar spoke about this connection, and other trip details, as they ate Elk burgers with cheese-stuffed green chile, and enjoyed a few Durango-brewed Mexican Loggers fresh off the tap. This particular trip was aimed at discovering a new-to-us hotspring, which existed a mere 5-mile–1000 ft elevation gain–hike away. It’s relatively easy to get to a location with a guide, but always a bit challenging to find a place only through research, mapping and planning.

With that in mind, the crew parked at the trailhead, donned their packs (prepped for 3 nights), and began the hike. Now for some readers, a 5-mile uphill hike with a 38 lbs. pack is a breeze, for others, it’s a 5-hour event. The NMD crew is somewhere in the middle. With a few well-timed breaks, a few snacks, and plenty of good humor, the team made it to a campsite in about 3.5 hours.

Highlights from this trip include a late night in the hot springs with a full moon, an afternoon soak thru a hailstorm, and a rare encounter with the 120704_FlyingSpagettiMonster_web Flying Spaghetti Monster. Fun stuff!

On a subsequent trip, DanO and Jmar power-hiked thru the same trail in an impressive 2 hour 45 minutes. This goes to show the advantage that expectation and preparation can have on total hike time—a 45 minute, 21% advantage!

All this is to say that the Weminuche Wilderness in southern Colorado is a great destination with some truly beautiful scenery and locations. Measuring in at about 3.5 hours from Albuquerque, it’s actually closer than the Gila Wilderness, which goes to show how big New Mexico really is.

A special thanks to our Colorado brothers and sisters, who keep their campsites and back-country very clean.  The NMD crew is excited to continue adventuring in the Weminuche Wilderness.

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