Spirit Lake Scouting Again 2022

One volunteer joined me to travel to Cowles and scout Winsor Ridge Trail in preparation for an NMVFO trail project later in the week. The USFS and state parks are still closed in the Pecos Canyon from the Hermit Peak Fire, but we had permission to enter. The weather is looking threatening, with rains predicted all week, and it was a good time to look at conditions for camping at altitude. We first headed for a large tangle of aspens several miles in, that needed to be cleared if Backcountry Horsemen were to come in with our gear on the first day of our project. We cleared about 37 trees.

Later, we counted another 30-odd downed firs on the way to Stewart Lake.

Rain started early, 11:30, and we began heading back and were not able to saw the rest of the trees. Rain continued light and hard before getting back to our car at 3PM.

Oddly, a photographer from the Santa Fe New Mexican was waiting near our vehicle, and we chatted a short while before heading home.

Ultimately, the Spirit Lake project got cancelled due to monsoon weather.

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Spirit Lake Scouting 2022

One of my favorite things about leading a trail project is scouting the trail beforehand. I was not familiar with Cowles, so Mike joined me for a one-day scouting, with some tree removal to assist the BCH Pecos Chapter that would be bringing in our equipment for a backpacking trail project for NMVFO in late August.

We started from the big parking lot at Cowles up the Winsor Ridge Trail #271. We cleared about 60 trees from the trail by hand, left 22 that the horses could easily step over, but a couple needed some work. BCH would not be able to stop to saw when carrying in supplies, so we might need to return for a day or overnight trip to finish preparing the trail. A quarter-mile section of #271 had numerous small aspen blow-downs in a tangled mess that needed clearing.

Stewart Lake was lovely, and had a large group campsite that I did not know about, but Mike showed me.

From the junction with Stewart Lake, we continued along Skyline Trail towards Spirit Lake, and encountered more trees to be cleared. We might change our campsite in August to Stewart instead of Spirit. For (reasons) I was hiking slow this day, so we did not get all the way to Spirit. This trail was not too bad, but needed a few trees cleared, especially three large ones requiring a 2-person crosscut, about halfway down.

We took Winsor Trail #254 down to the trailhead and Winsor Creek Road to Cowles. Winsor #254 is the proposed entrance route for our trail project, perhaps not shorter than Winsor Ridge Trail, but saving a bit of altitude gain.