Saturday, February 21, 2015

Nambe Creek - TR 160

Getting dirty
Got out for a nice backcountry excursion up in the Pecos Wilderness several months ago as the fall season rolled to a close. A long night reading by lamplight, followed by a beer-breakfast, followed by a long morning run in the montanas; The holy trinity. Thought it'd be fun to share here with photos and such.

The run starts from Aspen Ranch following Upper Borrego (TR150) over to the Nambe watershed, then up the creek (TR160) toward the high peaks. Saw a deer, an eagle, some cows, a hunter out looking for grouse, and even a couple of grouse (run little fellas!). Hadn't been out on these trails for a few years so I was excited for the adventure and new exploration.

Borrego at Rio en Medio
Into the burn area on Borrego. Notice the creek bed with several feet of silt, tree trunks snapped in two.
Just to confirm what I already knew, the Rio Nambe is still recovering from the massive Pacheco Canyon Fire (human caused) that burned through these parts a few years back. It will be recovering for some time. Pretty effing amazing what a fire can do. The area is spectacularly wrecked, even the trail is only just barely there along parts of the creek bed. It's gone entirely in other spots, decent route-finding skills are essential. Lots of downed trees and obstacles. In fact, I'd credit the summer herd of cattle up there for preserving any type of trail/passage at all. I often curse those damned cows, but there they were doing nice things for me. Nicely played cows. I smile uneasily and slow-clap your efforts. *clap....*clap....

Nambe creek at Borrego. Heavily channeled but not destroyed.
Upper Borrego junction, with burn scar tree trunks

Absolute ruin and moonscape up valley
Massive channeling of the creek bed

One of many widow makers still rocking in the breeze
Initial plans were to follow a route that included a climb up to La Vega and the Puerto Nambe saddle but slow-going through the Borrego fire wasteland forced my hand into bailing out and up at Nambe Trail (TR403). This is the dreaded Elevator Shaft. No, I would not recommend this route to others unless descending. Two miles, 2,000ft, ~45min - I suffered in silence but it was a crusher.

Side canyon from a north fork of the creek, scoured down to bedrock

A bit higher the 'trail' tunnels through new aspen saplings 

Junction with trail 403 up to Winsor (charcoaled). The immediate forecast: PAIN
The Elevator Shaft
Topped out on Upper Winsor (TR254). The faint whiff of cow crap down in the Nambe morphed into a faint whiff of dog crap up on the Winsor-Baldy freeway. Motored past a parade of at least two dozen hikers and their dogs over the one mile section descending down to the ski area and Rio en Medio Trail (TR163). I nodded and offered a good morning to all of them. It was a good morning by God, freaking beautiful up there.

Caught a few odd looks most likely because I happened to be running in jeans. The running shorts somehow didn't make it into the truck the night before. Fortunately shorts aren't required running equipment. Running shoes and beer are - and I sure as shit didn't overlook either of those. Interestingly, the extra leg-cover spared me a significant amount of lashing and thorn swipes from the overgrowth and off-trail running in the Nambe. So, best day ever to forget shorts. Sometimes you win some, and sometimes you win some. A very memorable morning.

Junction at Winsor and Rio en Medio, below the Ski area
Rio en Medio falls restore balance after the apocalypto nihilism of Nambe
Distance:  10mi
Max Elev:  10,800ft
Net Climbing:  2,500ft
Time:  2hr 42min

Related Posts:
 - Adventure on the Winsor Trail
 - Rio en Medio Winter Bike Descent
 - Scouting Backcountry Trails by Plane

1 comment:

  1. Dude I gotta join you for a run. Incredible photos but all snowed in now.



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