Mountain Time: Wheeler Peak
I promised to climb Wheeler Peak with Sonia for her birthday.
In preparation, I joined the gym to get my fitness level back up after a foot injury and a cold that wouldn’t go away in the Spring. Her birthday was in May, so we made plans with some friends who wanted to join us. As the day got closer, it became clear that it was going to be tough to do with all the snow. Friends of friends had tried to climb, but there was too much snow. In contrast to years past, we had so much snow this winter that the mountain trails were taking much longer to be hikable. So we opted for a warmer, less snowy hike and postponed our Wheeler Peak adventure for another month. On July 4th, we decided to get up early and go the next day. The feeling of ”if not now, then when?” has been hitting me hard this Summer, and I’m trying to really do the things I want to do, instead of just talking about them.
Sonia and I packed our hiking backpacks the night before, set the alarm, and got up early to drive to the Taos Ski Basin and the trailhead for Wheeler Peak. By the time we got there, the parking lot was already almost full. It’s reassuring to climb a mountain with lots of company. The trail to Wheeler Peak starts with the trail to Williams Lake. We’ve hiked up to Williams Lake a few times. It’s a great and relatively short hike to an alpine lake. Sonia had hiked up to Wheeler Peak before, but it was my first time. I found it really helped to have some of the trail be familiar. Once we passed the turnoff for Williams Lake, it wasn’t much further until tree line.
It was a beautiful day for it, not too hot, not too cold. We could see weather in the distance once we go to the top, so we ate our lunch quickly and hit the trail back down. We got a few raindrops on us on the way back down, but missed any big weather. Climbing Mt. Elbert last Summer defintely made this climb a lot more enjoyable. I was much better prepared for this mountain, and as it’s a lower elevation, it felt that much easier than Mt. Elbert. I even wanted to run (okay more like jog?) down part of the mountain, after seeing a few trail runners on the path. I would love to make this hike an annual tradition. Or maybe next year we cross some more New Mexico mountains off our mountain wish list….