Monday, June 11, 2012

Forest Fire June 2012

As part of my quest to do as much altitude training as possible in the area, I made plans to go to Ruidoso for the June 9-10 weekend.  I had planned to summit Sierra Blanca peak (12,000 feet elev.) but my access via Ski Run road was thwarted by the Little Bear Fire in nearby Alto and Capitan.   So I studied my Lincoln National Park maps and google earth to see how I could approach the mountain from a different approach.  I headed out from Ruidoso off Mecham on Cedar Creek Road until the trail head at the end of the road (about 4 miles).   At the trail head, I ran into a hiker who told me that the trail ended in Indian land, that is The Mescaleco Indian Reservation.   With this in mind, I went up until the trail ended and then followed my compass on the I phone to navigate the peak which I could see from that location.  There was no true trail but the forest is being thinned to prevent forest fires from spreading and so I was able to find some "trails" where people accessed the forest to cut down the trees.  Since there was no trail it took a bit of work and following several falls on loose ground.  The climb reminded me of You tube video I had watched from the Barkley Marathons in Tennesse which is 100 mile race with 5X20 mile loops with a lot of navigating with compass with no trails. 

Along the way, I encountered a little plant that stung like hell, I thind it was poison oak but I am not sure so I took a picture of it. 

After that, I was paying attention to little plants like this,  having learned my lesson.

I arrived at the foot of the mountain that I had spotted from Ruidoso.  The remaining 1,000 foot climb was on the bare mountain with a significant incline (21% grade) .  There were no trees or vegetation and I made my way up by creating my own switchbacks to get up.  I arrived to the summit after 3.5 miles which took me 2:14:11.  The views from this summit which was 9,400 feet were spectacular and I got to see Sierra Blanca which will have to wait for another day.

Sierra Blanca Peak and Little Bear Fire

Little Bear Fire

To the north, I also had a spectacular view of the Little Bear Fire and the city of Ruidoso as well. As I started my descent, I realized it was going to be hard to find the trail again where I had left my car.  I decided to follow the creeks as they would take me back to the city.  I passed a lot of dry creek beds but then reached what I would later find out was the Ruidoso River where I was able to drink some water and pour some on my head.  I followed the river into town and then went back to the road where I driven to the original trail head.  I had to go back uphill and finished the entire hike/run in 5:20 having covered only 15 miles with 5,200 feet of total ascent and all above 7,000 feet.
The next day, I ran an easy 10 miles with 2,000 feet of total ascent.  Overall, I feel a good training weekend as I approach 4 weeks until Leadville 50 miles on July 15.

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