trip report! part one: the overview

November 30, 2009

Today is the first day back from fall break here. [Aside: I have serious issues with our “fall break.”  First of all, every university with a good heart gives its students a fall break in October, right around midterms, when they’re starting to go crazy.  Does my current university have a good heart?  No, they are cold-hearted bastards and they wish us to suffer straight through from August to late November without reprieve.  Second of all, even though we have technically yet to reach the winter solstice, there has been snow on the ground here now for a solid two weeks, and we have already had more than three feet total in accumulations (not all of that is still here, thankfully).  Is this fall?  No, it is not.  Grrrr.]

On this particular fall break, the partner, miscreant mutt, and I embarked upon an epic journey to the far reaches of New Mexico, hoping to go backpacking for a week without having to trudge through the snow.  Hence we avoided going anywhere in Colorado.  We are not well-versed in the art of snow travel, nor are we well-equipped for it.  Cold, yes; snow, no.  Anyhow, by going to southwestern New Mex, we hoped to outrun the snow and some of the cold as well.  We only succeeded on the first count.

We ended up spending 5 days on the trail, doing a loop route in the Gila Wilderness.  Here is a a map of where we started and ended up, courtesy of Google:

The trip, overall, was a great one, though there were certainly some less-than-pleasant moments, and it’s a damn long drive.

Highlights include: absolutely amazing canyon scenery, gorgeous daytime weather, a few fantastic campsites, Thanksgiving dinner by the campfire, hot springs, slot canyons, incredibly diverse ecosystems with abrupt changes between them (i.e., going from desert to open ponderosa savanna to beaver marsh within roughly five miles of trail), complete solitude.

Lowlights include: endless hours of mindnumbingly boring driving through nowhere, being stopped by the border patrol, brutally cold nights, camping on seasonal permafrost, the partner’s hypothermia, more than fifty wading crossings of a partially frozen river in the bitter cold, a blister the same size as the toe that it was on.

More to come, with pictures, over the next few days.

Continue to trip report!  part two: the drive down



  1. Nice use of “the partner” in Le Guin style.

  2. PS. Here’s the link to the album:

  3. Please include pictures of the gigantic blister. Preferably before AND after popping.

    • Alas, I was too deliriously tired at the blister’s best to record the evidence. And somehow, I managed not to pop it. I would document it now, but it’s more gross than impressive right now, as it’s in that weird hardened phase that sometimes comes after the pus recedes.

      Yum. I bet everyone wanted all that detail.

      • I am terrifically disappointed. Perhaps I will wear my new shoes tomorrow and post pictures of MY blister.

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