I couldn’t believe my luck. Joan decided to take a slight detour into New Mexico as she began her relocation travels from Moab to Atlanta. I’m all about opportunities and there was no way I was giving up this one. I may have said my goodbyes a month earlier after our week in Capitol Reef and the Henry Mountains, but I was more than ready to say HELLO again, lets play! I’d stopped at the Ranger Station in Cuba looking for ideas and thus learned about San Pedro. When you want to play, how can you say no to a park? San Pedro Parks Wilderness is known for high, moist, rolling mountaintops with numerous meadows and large grassy “parks.” Source: USFS
My readers and friends know I don’t enjoy planning or rigid itineraries. I love that Joan embraces this philosophy. We prepared by downloading maps to our Gaia phone apps, which would supplement our paper map and trail descriptions. I thought this quote in a book I was recently reading was quite appropriate for this adventure as we had no destination in mind; how much food we carried would determine the maximum length of our journey.
We began our hike from the San Gregorio trailhead located in the southern part of the wilderness. I don’t have a photo at the trailhead so I’m assuming there wasn’t any signage. About a mile from the parking lot is San Gregorio Reservoir. I couldn’t talk Joan into going for a swim. Maybe on our exit?
We were excited to be on the CDT. “The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail climbs to the beautiful San Pedro Parks Wilderness area from Cuba, NM and then heads northeast to the Chama River and Carson National Forest. The CDT route follows the Los Pinos, Las Vacas, Penas Negras and Rio Capulin trails through the Wilderness.” Source: Continental Divide Trail Coalition
The next few miles on the CDT/Rio Capulin was trail in need of some maintenance with lots of deadfall. This sign represented the junction of trail #31 (Rio Capulin) with trail #30 (Rio Gallina) were we planned to begin the next leg of our loop. It was getting late so we decided to continue a bit further north on the trail and find a place to camp.
We slept on options. I wasn’t thrilled with our choices.
- Reverse direction on trail #31 back through known deadfall jungle gym
- Continue hiking north until the trail crosses Highway 96 or Road 103 and try hitching back to the trailhead
- Attempt unmaintained trail #30
We quickly gave up on trying to stay on course with our digital map and instead decided to visit a couple of interesting points of interest marked on the map like Red Rock Cliff. Compass navigation was very helpful at keeping us moving in the right direction. This is Joan’s specialty; I have room for improvement.
It’s a new day. Our plan is to complete a figure eight loop but after our experience with the non-existent Gallina Trail, we had low expectations of trail conditions. We camped near the junction of San Jose, Las Vacas and Los Pinos Trails.
- April 28-30, 2018
- Carry a paper map. Although it was dated 2006, it was a necessary supplement to our digital versions.
- Obtain trail conditions reports from both the Cuba and Coyote Ranger Stations.
- Prepare for weather. Temperatures dropped to high 30’s both nights, plus we had heavy rain and hail.
- USFS – San Pedro Parks Wilderness, Santa Fe National Forest
- CDT Coalition – San Pedro Parks Wilderness, Santa Fe National Forest
- Joan’s Blog Post