First Tastes of Fall: The Hike Up Santa Fe Baldy
After the previous week’s hike up Lake Peak, I was more than excited to get to the top of some of the other peaks in the Sangre de Christos. Somewhere after hiking Lake Peak and before the following week’s hike I discovered Callahan is equally enthusiastic about getting to the top of things, changing aspen leaves, and mountains in general. And so an unofficial hiking team was formed, beginning with our hike to Baldy.
Leaving from the same trailhead as the previous week, we continued on the Winsor Trail as it skirted the peaks and crossed the Rio Nambe and it’s forks. As it was the third weekend in September we were already treated to numerous stands of aspen tinging yellow though we agreed that the mixed fir-aspen forest was gorgeous in its own right.
After about mile 4 we began to catch glimpses of Baldy looming to the northeast and excitedly began ascending the switchbacks up to the saddle. Once there we began the slow trudge up the rocky face of Baldy, marveling at the barren alpine ecosystem, complete with pikas (which Abby had a marvelous time stalking). Though we took our time on the last stretch due to the elevation and steep trail we summitted before 10:30am and had the peak to ourselves for the half hour we were up there. It was pretty windy right at the peak (elevation 12,631!) but after continuing north for a few hundred yards we found a sheltered nook with perfect views over the stunning Lake Katherine. I need to emphasize that I’ve seen many a pretty alpine lake, but Kathy, all ringed in fir trees, was one of the finest.