Santa Fe Baldy

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
~Robert Frost

At 12,622 feet, Santa Fe Baldy is the highest point in Santa Fe, and one of the most challenging day hikes in the area.  We had some inclement weather in Santa Fe this week, including a few inches of snow yesterday, but I had been looking forward to this hike for weeks and was determined to embrace whatever conditions we discovered and give it my all (even if shoe chains were necessary).

The dusting of snow on the trail and trees created a peaceful, serene, meditative atmosphere for the first few miles of our hike.  My spirits were high and I was amazed at the stillness and beauty of the winter-like environment.  At times the only audible sounds were the crunching of snow under our feet, the swishing of our layers of warm clothes, and the deep inhale and exhale of our lungs. 

I was surprised to see another set of footprints on the trail.  I thought about this ambitious soul out on the trail early this morning, enduring the bitter windchill and creating tracks in the flawless, unbroken snow.  It gave me reassurance to know that we weren’t the only ones out on the trail today.  It also lead me ponder all the other people who walked in these woods before us and the generations of people who called this land home long before Santa Fe became what it is today.  It is fascinating to think about how much this land has changed, while the mountains have remained the same – stoic and majestic for centuries.        

Just as the altitude and incline began to get tough while approaching the peak of Baldy (and tough may be an understatement; grueling and arduous are more accurate), we were supplied with a boost of adrenaline as a result of an alarming experience.  It all started with a bighorn sheep… 

As we began our final ascent to the summit, we spotted a long bighorn sheep relaxing beside a rock.  He apparently spotted us before we detected him.  We continued upwards, blazing our own trail, when he suddenly stood up and began approaching us.  He was literally advancing directly toward us.  We’ve heard stories of these great beasts killing humans, so needless to say we were terrified.  We retreated and collected a few rocks to throw if necessary, our only weapons on this nearly-deserted mountain top.  Fortunately, just as things were about to get interesting, the bighorn sheep trotted past us, clearly more interested in staying on his trail than dealing with three humans.  Our lives were spared this time, but we definitely kept our eyes peeled and ammunition in our pockets for the remainder of the climb.

The final part of the ascent was strenuous and frustrating, with some of the most intense north winds I have ever encountered, but we made it to the summit!  The 360 degree view from the highest point in Santa Fe was incredible.  

However, reaching the summit was only the halfway point of the hike; we still had to make it all the way back down to the ski basin.  The descent of the hike challenged our stamina and perseverance.  This was by far the longest hike I have ever completed.  I was utterly exhausted when we still had miles to go, but I felt very accomplished when we finally arrived at the end.  I am so thankful to live in a place with opportunities for amazing hikes, for the physical ability to enjoy nature in this way, and for my amazing friends with whom to share this experience.

Love, peace, and serenity.  Until next time.


  1. Ah, perfect quote to go with that hike (especially on the way out!)
    Glad to have shared it with you two... what an excellent day!


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