Wheeler Peak (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheeler_Peak_%28New_Mexico%29), at 13161 ft, is the tallest point in New Mexico. And we're going to climb it!
I'm taking the extreme minimalist approach to organizing this. That is, we're leaving the Williams Lake Trail head at 6 am Saturday—figure you're own way to get there and where you want to stay. Suggestions/advice follow.
I plan to car camp at the Twinings Campground (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/carson/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=44124&actid=29) (free), but you are free to get a suite at the nearby (5 min walk) Taos Ski Valley, hotel in Taos, whatever. I'm planning to leave at 12 pm Friday, Aug 3 to get there before dark (and make stops at REI and Trader Joe's along the way). If you're coming later than that and would like to camp, let me know, give me your tent/etc and I'll do my best (no guarantees! I hate camping equipment and camping equipment hates me) to reserve a campsite and setup your tent.
Start at the Williams Lake Trail (#62) (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/carson/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=44350&actid=50), carpooling over from Taos Ski Valley/Twinings Campground. Cut over to the Williams Peak Summit Trail (#67) (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/carson/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=75370&actid=50). Meet Wheeler Peak Trail (#90) (http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/carson/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=44404&actid=50), and summit Wheeler Peak. Depending on how we're feeling, take a look at the other peaks south of Wheeler, such Simpson Peak, Old Mike Peak, Red Dome, and Taos Cone (there's a trail to all of them). Take Wheeler Peak Trail all the way back to Twinings Campground, summiting Mount Walter (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Walter_%28New_Mexico%29) (2nd highest point in NM). A heads up on numbers: it's 4.4 mi from Williams Lake Trailhead to the Wheeler Peak's summit, with an elevation gain of 2960 ft. Needless to say, it's steep. Also, the elevation is extreme—half of everyone who did this last year had mild to moderate elevation sickness (headaches, nausea, dehydration, etc). It is your own responsibility to take care of yourself.
We may need to alter the route and come back the way we came, if weather turns bad.
I plan on staying in Taos another night, and on the way back to Las Cruces doing La Luz in Albuqerque on Sunday morning (http://www.meetup.com/hiking-261/events/73963882/).
DISTANCE is 11.7 mi from Williams Lake Trail head to Twinings Campground.
ELEVATION GAIN is 2960 ft gained from Williams Lake Trail head to Wheeler Peak summit. We'll lose 3700 ft going from the summit back to Twinings Campground.
FEES: None. Of course, if you carpool, please compensate your driver for gas!
DURATION: Finish by mid to late afternoon. I recommend everyone free up the entire day and allow others to take their time.
PET FRIENDLY? Yes. Bring a muzzle (you shouldn't need be told to bring a proper leash), and if you'd like to unleash, ask others before you do so. Make sure your pet can handle the elevation and distance (if you keep your pet at home most of the time—no, it can't).
SKILL LEVEL is *NOT* beginner friendly. Take notice of the extreme elevation (it is 3x that of Las Cruces/El Paso). Otherwise, there is nothing technical involved.
TERRAIN is high-elevation alpine forest. The ascent from Williams Lake is steep, and the way back along Wheeler Peak Trail is on completely exposed ridgeline. No off-terrain—I plan to stay on trails only.
WEATHER may include thunderstorms. Please bring rain gear. Also, it will be chilly in the morning and it's windy and surprisingly cool towards the summit and along the ridgeline. It would not hurt to bring a warm hat and lightweight sweater.
AFTERWARDS I'm staying the Saturday night at Twinings Campground/Taos Ski Valley, and do La Luz in Albuquerque the next day on the way back. There are some decent restaurants in Taos Ski Valley and Taos, I plan to relax (Santa Fe microbrews are great).
MEET for carpool/caravan at:
Las Cruces: 12:00 pm on FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, K-Mart parking lot on North Main/US 70 and Del Rey, near Shell. See map (OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=32.35083&mlon=-106.76538&zoom=17&layers=M) or Google Maps (http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=32.35083,-106.76538&aq=&sll=32.2563,-106.7&sspn=0.015497,0.018582&ie=UTF8&ll=32.351135,-106.768591&spn=0.00774,0.01502&t=h&z=17)). MEET for hike at:
Taos: 5:30 am at Saturday, August 4, Twinings Campground across/north of Taos Ski Valley. See map (OpenStreetMap (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat=36.596800&mlon=-105.449974&zoom=16&layers=M) (not very good) or Google Maps (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=36.596800,-105.449974&hl=en&ll=36.596804,-105.449975&spn=0.014712,0.012059&sll=36.596792,-105.449939&sspn=0.014712,0.012059&t=h&z=16)). That's GPS coordinates [masked],[masked]). DIRECTIONS to Twinings Campground from Albuquerque:
Head north on Interstate 25. BEFORE you reach Santa Fe, take exit 276 and get onto Veterans Memorial Highway (NM 599). This highway bypasses Santa Fe. When NM 599 ends a bit north of Santa Fe, take US 84/US 285 north. In Espanola, New Mexico, do NOT follow US 84/US 285, and take NM 68 north, which will take you into downtown Taos. Once in downtown Taos, NM 68 will end and turn into US 64. Follow US 64 north out of Taos. North of Taos, you'll meet an intersection where US 64 turns and goes west, while an NM 150 goes north/northeast up to Taos Ski Valley. Take NM 150. Follow NM 150 to Taos Ski Valley. Once you've entered Taos Ski Valley (if you go into town (very small, narrow streets), or go past, you've gone too far!), look for a road going up an incline to the left where you'll see many RVs parked, and look for signage for the Twinings Campground. MORE information:
Map of area (http://www.openstreetmap.org/?lat=36.5737&lon=-105.4276&zoom=14&layers=M) Event from last year (see photos) (http://www.meetup.com/hiking-261/events/26617351/)