Let the Beauty of what you Love be what you Do...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

First Winter Hike of the Season~ Santa Fe Baldy! :)

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!


Barb said...

Hi Becky, I just got back from a 4.45 mile hike in deepening snow (but still not deep enough for snowshoes or xskis). It's quite a workout! Can't imagine doing 14 in it, but then, I'm no "youngster" anymore. Glad you weren't so spooked by the Bighorn that you forgot about your camera! Great photos of your hike. The ridge shot and the view of distant peaks are awesome. I think that the burn area will regenerate just fine - wildflowers will probably bloom there starting next summer.

Ms. Becky said...

thank you very much for taking me on this hike. I can feel the elevation, and your photos are astounding. I didn't realize it got that cold there this fast, but it IS November! I love the photo of the burned forest, and the grid-like pattern of the fallen trees. and the summit shot is fun! I agree, that feeling of serene exhaustion after such a hike is wonderful. happy day to you Becky.

Wanda..... said...

The unexpected excitement of the Bighorn added to the day, but you must have been tense for awhile, wondering if there were more. I would have! You captured some wonderful photos of him and your climb, Becky! Stay warm & happy!

Tammie Lee said...

yes them thar sheep do that! they come right at you telling you to back off. My son (an adult) and i had the same thing happen to us this summer. I posted images and the story also.

Up here they tell us not to yell at bears,,,,, to yell at mountain lions. But we have to do what feels right in the moment. So glad you were ok. Your hike looks gorgeous as can be!

clairz said...

What an amazing adventure, and so great that you have the photos to document your meeting with the bighorn! I second what others have said--thanks for taking us along.

Kate said...

The best kind of adventures are those that are unexpected. You have some wonderful shots of the sheep. I think that the bold one was as interested of you as you were of him!

John Brisson said...

Fantastic. I was going to say that we have snow in Big Bear now too...
but nothing like this. What a great adventure with the Bighorn!!

Annie said...

Wow, 14 miles that is a lot of hiking in the cold, but beautiful!
You got some great shots and of course I love the Bighorn!
Glad you have some new friends too!

Pat said...

Those are gorgeous photos, Becky! Thanks for taking me along on the hike - I would never be able to hike that distance. How exciting and a little terrifying at the same time to run into that bighorn sheep! You got some great pictures of him!

Randy said...

That is some hike! I can't believe you saw the bighorn, lucky you. Yes I went to the Recycle Festival yesterday my partner Todd shared a booth with a friend of his. There was alot of cool stuff. Next weekend is the clay show at the Womens' Center. I hope you have a great three days off. I used it to get caught up on my project. Only 4 more classes to go!

Rick said...

Wow - awesome scenery Becky ! You really pushed my nostalgia button with these photos and your story - I so miss hiking out in the Alberta and BC Rockies. Great shots of the Bighorn - obviously he didn't want to share the gorgeous views !

It's honestly a tough choice between mountain hiking and beach walking - I'll have to look into doing the former again. soon.