“great hike for the whole family”
“4 miles round-trip”
these were the enticing words that compelled us to tackle the williams lake hike starting above taos ski valley and heading up to the lake. perhaps if we had thought a little harder about the fact that starting (in may) at an elevation of 10,300 feet and climbing would mean snow and lots of it, we might have paused before taking this on….
as it was, even though we were hiking almost entirely in snow and sharing the trail with both cross-country skiers and snow-shoe-ers, the first part of the hike was pleasant and relatively easy. we stopped to enjoy our lunch with an amazing view of wheeler peak, the highest point in new mexico (over 13,000 ft.) pretty much in our faces.
beyond that point, things started to get a little hairy. sometimes the trail was hard to follow in the snow. some areas were steep and slippery and i started worrying about the trip back down, especially with muffin pulling on the leash, as she has a tendency to do. my feet started getting wetter (so much for water-proof boots!) to the point of becoming completely soaked and soggy. clouds were becoming more frequent and with each one the temperature seemed to drop (uh, yea, we were wearing shorts). more and more steps were resulting in our feet puncturing the veil of snow and plunging downward, sometimes with no end point. stu’s knees began hurting and we were concerned about muffy getting cold and/or tired.
so the solution should be easy, right?? just TURN AROUND. maybe on some hikes we would have done so, but this was a “destination hike”. there was a lake at the end of the trail! once this much effort has been put in, we seem to find it practically impossible to turn around without reaching our goal.
so we did reach it. and while i had been picturing a beautiful blue alpine lake, it should not have come as a surprise to find the lake completely obscured by snow. (duh!) a stunning sight, nonetheless!! knowing what we would be facing on the way back down took some of the joy and satisfaction out of getting there and prompted us, after grabbing a quick photo or 2, to turn around and face the cold, wet trip back.
|these blue markers were our saving grace!!|
we were ever so happy to encounter this sign. i like adventure and we have had our share in the hiking we have done for the last 30 years or so. there is an element of danger in it, which, as long as it’s not taken too far (a fine line sometimes!) can add a little something to the flavor of those evening cocktails! don't you agree??
would i do it all again?? absolutely.... in a heartbeat!!