Alas, I am finally posting my last entry from August (which chronologically should have been the first of the group since it's a re-cap of "The Hike" done on August 2, 2008)! Back in '95 when Mark graduated from high school - he and two of his good friends, Tommy & Ryan, decided that to keep in touch they would come together from wherever they were living and do a hike. Usually (when somebody hasn't just had knee surgery or something) they hike a high point in a different state - meaning, the highest peak in the state. This year it was New Mexico's turn, and they hiked Wheeler Peak. Here is a picture of the map at the trailhead, which shows the whole area. Feel free to click on it to see it larger if you want to. For documentation purposes, I should mention that Ryan was in town from Florida (with his wife Debi), so all three of them were able to drive down to NM together (on Aug. 1st) and stay the night in Taos. Then, they left for the hike first thing the next morning.
Here is a picture of the three of them (from left to right - Mark, Tommy & Ryan) at the first saddle. They are still below the treeline (obviously) and you can see Mount Baldy in the background...
Here's a pretty shot that Ryan took of Mark & Tommy as they were breaking the tree line.
The snow slides in the lower bowl just before the final climb were a refreshing part of the hike for them, since the day was starting to heat up.
A welcome difference between this high point versus others that they've done was the tundra grass and wildflowers. On their previous hikes it was just rock or skree once they got to this elevation.
Something that the guys saw on this trip, that they hadn't encountered on previous hikes, was a herd of bighorn sheep. The females were grouped in the lower bowl (see the second photo below) while the ram (pictured here) was roaming around up higher on the rocks closer to the high point.
Shown here behind Tom is Mt. Walter, which is the false summit for Wheeler Peak.
Approaching the top of Mt. Walter - off to the right you can see their first glimpse of Wheeler Peak.
This is just to show how beautiful the last ridge-line walk is with all the wildflowers and majestic peaks that surround it.
Behind Mark is one of the glacier lakes that are formed by snow runoff.
At most high points there is this geological marker confirming the high point. So, here is Wheeler Peak's - at 13,161 feet!
Wheeler Peak was unique in that it has this metal plaque that explains how the mountain got its name.
This friendly marmot was at the top of the peak scavenging food from tired hikers. Apparently this picture doesn't do it justice, it was really big (like the size of a large cat)!
Here's the handsome trio at the summit.
This is Mark during their descent. Gotta love the sky in this shot - I think it's a beautiful picture! Thanks, guys...for remembering to take all these great pictures to share your adventure with us.