15 mi ::
414 mi ::
Sunny, warm, breezy
It doesn’t take long to reach Gooseberry Trailhead, packed with big vans. We grateful to find a good piped spring just off the trail, and have a good breakfast to celebrate.
Since Grants we’ve noticed that Mt. Taylor is divided into two colors along a straight line. We keep looking at this curiosity as we climb. We find out that a long string of people passing us on their way down are geology students from Tennessee. I nearly ask someone about the two colors, but refrain. Maybe there are different rock and soil types from different eruptions in the dead volcanoe’s history, I hypothesize. When we reach the line I’m glad I didn’t ask. It’s a fence. The grass has been grazed on one side and not the other.
Views from the top are grand, even though it’s a little hazy today. We’ve climbed another 2500 feet to 11,300′, our highest point so far. It’s actually the highest mountain we’ve climbed together. We can see much of our route back to Allegres Peak, south of Pie Town. East is the Sandia range by Albuquerque, west and north a sea of mesas.
The descent through the trees on the north side is still fairly snow covered. The trail then joins a road that climbs to another peak with a lookout tower. Ann says I’ve tricked her into climbing two mountains!
It’s a nice descent on Forest Service roads through meadows and stands of pine trees until we break away to American Canyon spring, another good water source. We have dinner there and load up for fifteen miles to the next water.
We decide to take a cutoff on old roads for some variety. It no longer seems like a big deal when our road dead-ends, we just find our position on the map and bushwhack to where we meant to go. It’s a quiet little canyon with a retired road at the bottom. We wind down it, find a couple of tricky turns, and stop on a forested hilltop with enough light left to stretch and look at maps before bed.