I love it when nature cooperates with my schedule! It was a cold & blustery day on Saturday as I worked, but I paid it no mind, as the forecast for Sunday- my day off- was for blue skies... and I had a hike planned with a couple of new friends.
I love hiking in freshly fallen snow. The landscape seems so quiet, and the summer crowds are gone.
It was a chilly start... somewhere in the teens as we started our hike, but we quickly warmed up in our many layers with the gentle uphill effort. A couple of miles in, we get the first clear view of our goal~ the summit of Santa Fe Baldy.
At about the halfway point towards the summit, we were breaking new trail through the snow... it was only a few inches deep... not enough for snowshoes, but enough to make the hike a bit more challenging.
Below, a view of Santa Fe Baldy from the saddle. At this point, it's only another 1,000 feet or so to climb~ but it's the steepest part of the hike and the air is thin!
Climbing higher, we find we are not alone on this hike! We spotted a Bighorn sheep (look in the right hand corner)... he was very cool to observe from a distance.
But he apparently wanted a closer view of us, or perhaps he was a bit perturbed that we were in his territory, but in any case, he started down the trail~ making a beeline directly toward us!
I had never been this close to a Bighorn before... my experience has been that they keep their distance... and we keep ours. It was a little nerve wracking as he approached. Not knowing what to do, I implored the technique I'd use if encountering a bear in the wilderness~ yelling & clanging my hiking poles, trying to seem intimidating (as if!) He just came closer... staring us down.
We changed tactics, and slowly began backing down the mountain... looking for possible shelter in the rocks.
We gave him a wide berth, and thankfully he got bored with us and sauntered on down the trail...
though he paused to take in the view!
With him now below us, (and with a fresh burst of adrenaline) we got back on the trail & continued on up the mountain.
Looking down from the summit ridge, I was able to observe for the first time the devastation from the Pacheco Fire this summer. I hadn't been up on Baldy since June, just before the fires... so my last view in this direction was of green forests. It was a little heartbreaking to see, though with the freshly fallen snow, it seemed to have a stark beauty all it's own.
The snowy windswept ridge, with the summit of Baldy in the distance.
Quite a glorious view from the top!
|Summit of Santa Fe Baldy~ 12,622 ft|
And the Summit shot! Normally there is a windbreak here, but it is covered in a mound of snow! In the summer, it is nice to hang around at the top... have a snack & soak in the view... but it was fr-eee-zing up there and with the shorter winter days, & 7 miles remaining to hike out, we did not linger long! We hiked out & drove down the hill just as the sun was setting, with that deep, relaxing feeling of fatigue only acheived from a day well spent in the mountains!