Update: I want to push the time earlier just to make sure we get enough daylight. Expected time to start the hike (from Water Canyon Campground) will be 7:30AM.
The Magdalena mountains (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalena_Mountains) are just west of Socorro, about 90 minutes drive south of Albuquerque. The high point, South Baldy Peak - at 10,783ft, is taller than the Sandias.
This hike will be a strenuous hike that includes 1) the hike up Copper Canyon to South Baldy Peak, 2) the crest trail to North Baldy peak (9,858 ft), and 3) the return down an old mining road back to the starting point. Total distance is in the range of 15 miles, with elevation gain perhaps 3500-4500 ft.
About the pace: we will need to keep up a good pace to complete the hike before dark. That is also the reason for the early departure. We'll keep a moderate pace with breaks up Copper Canyon, but then will need to maintain a steady pace along the crest trail. We will also have a turn around time in case we need to backtrack and return at some point along the crest trail.
Since I have not hiked the crest trail or copper canyon the hike is exploratory, although we will follow the route in a guidebook. I did lead a hike up to North Baldy Peak, so the return route on the old mining route has been done before.
Expect a long day with lots of ups and downs. We'll stop by the Magdalena Ridge Observatory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalena_Ridge_Observatory) near South Baldy Peak. Time permitting, we may also make a detour on the drive back to the Very Large Array (http://www.vla.nrao.edu/) (if it's not dark yet).
Please bring plenty of water (3-4 liters), food, warm clothing and a headlamp. Dogs not recommended. High clearance vehicles not needed. Hike will be cancelled if the weather outlook is poor.