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Monday, December 16th, 2019

First Steps in the First Wilderness Part 8: December

Monday, December 16th, 2019: Hikes, Holt, Mogollon Mountains, Southwest New Mexico.

There were snowstorms in the mountains over Thanksgiving, and more a week later. As the weather warmed after that, I discovered the creeks were too flooded with snowmelt to cross in many places, and the snow too deep and crusty to trudge uphill in. But the weather stayed warm and I was hoping I could get in one more hike up my favorite trail before more snow made it impassable.

The creek in the canyon bottom turned out to be very loud, but crossable. The bigger problem was all the new logs blocking the trail, fire-killed snags brought down as melting snow softened the soil. But I climbed over and around them.

Finally, nearing the crest, I encountered snow up to knee deep, but not enough to stop me. I was motivated by the views!

It was windy up there, so I didn’t linger. But for the third Sunday in a row, I was passed by a golden eagle – this time carrying what appeared to be a stick.

The five-mile descent was made difficult by an unexplained searing pain in my ankle. I’d started the hike earlier than usual, but nearing the winter solstice the days are short, and the pain slowed me down, so I expected to finish the hike in the dark.

Luckily I had my new headlamp to help me over the loose rock in the last half-mile of trail!

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