Jun 24, 2013 at 1:37 pm #1304558
I have a group of 13 Camp Fire teens all getting ready for our summer trip to the mountains *next week* (!). We are coming from Austin, Texas. Our usual destination is Pecos Wilderness. Closed because of wildfires early this month. So I started looking at the Gila. Then they closed the high country there. Most of the eastern lower elevations in the Gila Wilderness are still open but my group really wants to go high enough to escape the 90 deg + heat. So I started looking at the Pagosa Springs area. More fires! They've closed that! The rest of Colorado is too far away.
We go out on the trail Monday afternoon through Friday lunch, 4 nights, maybe a layover day on Wednesday. 4-6 miles on Tuesday and Thursday, less on Monday and Friday. So we don't need a lot of trail mileage. Just enough to make it a real backpacking trip. Most of these kids are beginners, ages 11-14, with a couple of 16 year olds. A few parents.
I saw the trip report in Photo Gallery for some areas in the Carson National Forest near Taos–Latir Wilderness, Wheeler Peak. I've never been there but it looks like country not too different from Pecos. However, at this point I'm not even sure how to lay my hands on the necessary maps, since there's probably not time to mail order them. What topi maps cover the area? Just the USGS quads, or is there anything enhanced or updated that applies, that can be downloaded in a hurry? I just talked to the switchboard at Carson National Forest, and they are sending me what they have, but it won't arrive for a few days and it isn't, like, full-scale topo maps etc.
Also, if anyone reading this is in the Austin area and has maps I could borrow for a few days, that would be sooo helpful! (Long shot, I know…)
MinaJun 24, 2013 at 3:17 pm #1999380
Luke SchmidtBPL Member
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
I don't have maps but I can tell you where to get some. Check out Hillmap.com. They have "layered' maps. You can pick a spot and switch between topo maps of various kinds and satellite images.
It takes a bit of fiddling but you can print sections of the map. You can also create PDF files of maps. If you can find a place with a bigger printer you might be able to pay to have your maps printed on larger sheets of paper. I created a big map of the Teton Wilderness by printing out sheets of paper and taping them together. It took an evening of carefully printing sections, trimming and taping but it was free and instantly available.Jun 24, 2013 at 6:16 pm #1999428
Taos Mountain Outfitters
Address: 114 South Plaza, Taos NM
Phone: (575) 758-9292
They may be able to give you some good advice.
On a side note, while I might hit the trail myself, I'm not sure I would want to bring a bunch of kids any where near us right now. Not sure about conditions on the Taos area, but as bad as it is in the Pecos, and here in Colorado, bringing kids in would concern me. Of course I've been chased out of two,areas by fires and just dealt with a bad one just a few miles from my house, so I am a little paranoid!Jun 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm #1999434
BJ, Thanks for your concern. The staff member at the Carson NF office in Taos that I spoke to today did not think there was any reason not to go hiking in the Carson except for the far southern portion, ie Pecos Wilderness. She said they are at Stage 1 fire restrictions elsewhere, that is, no wood fires outside established campground fire rings. But we are used to that. But we will certainly keep an eye on it.
MinaJun 24, 2013 at 6:41 pm #1999438
Glad to hear that the FS is feeling ok about it. I may have to head that way myself, it's a beautiful area. On the other hand, I'm thinking about heading to Vermont to see family and spend my hiking time on the Long Trail. Bugs but no fire!Jun 24, 2013 at 7:22 pm #1999457
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
In regards to the Latir Peaks wilderness, good water, some good campsites (though a group your size, hope you share some tents), and the entire wilderness was relatively smaller than the Pecos, so most of us just had a printable trailmap from the group leader's NATGEO or TOPO program without elevation. There were a couple large scale topos the leader had with elevation I think you can get from REI Albuquerque or Santa Fe. We were able to go cross-country quite a bit with just the trail maps and knowing generally where the trail was while peak bagging. Cairns all over the place, especially sticking out on Latir Mesa. Other than that, watch your footing. We had a rest day in Taos and then hit Wheeler Pk on the new trail going from WIlliams Lake. That new trail might be a reason to pick up a new map. The map I told you about should also have Columbine/Hondo Pass WSA if your group wants to do some more peak-bagging (looks like you have 1 more day than my itinerary).
The main drag through Taos is pretty packed with cars so you may want to use the bypass whenever possible.Jun 26, 2013 at 11:26 am #1999977
Thanks to all for your suggestions. I think we have a good trip plan now. And a post to my neighborhood listserv indirectly turned up the maps I need.
Headed for the trail…
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