Southern New Mexico end October 2002 Itinerary

Dear mom and dad,

I provide here an itinerary for my upcoming driving trip to New Mexico (hereafter "NM".) I first provide an overview of how this all fits into the "big picture". Then I provide details specific to individual counties.

OVERVIEW - General

I am currently working on NM. I have 5 of 33 counties there so I have a long way to go.

This trip is designed to get me 10 counties. The counties targeted for this trip are selected based upon three main criteria -

1) To complete the western tier of NM counties as these are required for a 500 mile home glob radius out of San Diego.

An exception occurs with Hidalgo County in the extreme SW corner of the state - it is NOT planned for this trip even though it is 475 miles at its closest point to my home. Hidalgo is the quintessential stealth and Scott Surgent plus Edward Earl and myself have not yet come to agreement as to the best plan for doing it.

2) To leave certain counties alone until Edward Earl has the opportunity to do them with me next year. These are all true mountains that are getting snowed on anyways by now.

Since Edward is NOT interested in low altitude non-mountainous counties of the eastern NM plains, I am free to do them on this trip before meeting him Friday night in Albuquerque. They are also snow-free now - but will not be so come January.

3) Snow is a concern with certain mountains. It is not that I cannot go under such conditions. Rather, it makes for inefficient travel in a season when the length of daylight is at a premium. Thereby I will wait on the corresponding counties until next season.

Points 2) and 3) are related: the very mountains Edward has an interest in doing next year are the same ones that currently are made more difficult owing to snow.

OVERVIEW - Trip Structure

I will take two days to drive into central NM - Tuesday and Wesnesday. I estimate that Albuqeurque (hereafter "ABQ") is 950 miles by road. That is not reasonable for a single day.

Once there I will attempt perhaps four counties myself on Thursday and Friday. Three of these are on the NM plains are are basically drives with tiny hikes up hills. One of these is Elk Mtn of San Miguel County near Santa Fe with a road to near the summit (11,600 ft). I will drive the road until snow occurs - and then walk the remainder.

Edward Earl arrives by airplane Friday evening into ABQ. For Saturday and Sunday we do four counties - all mountains. Their four highpoints are located as two pairs with the distance between mountains of any pair very small compared to the distance between pairs themselves. Hence a natural breakdown of Saturday and Sunday into one pair of counties each day.

On Monday morning we do the highpoint of Bernalillo County which includes ABQ. It is a ski resort and the road to the summit will be plowed as such. Edward's flight is around 12 noon or 1 PM Monday.

On Tuesday I am planning to climb Beautiful Mtn of San Juan County with Scott Surgent. It is the most NW of NM counties - touching the four-corners point of AZ, CO, NM, and UT. Scott would be driving up from Tucson Monday evening to meet me - and we will decide beforehand whether he'd like to meet me in a motel room late Monday evening (possibly in the town of Ship Rock) - or simply meet me Tuesday morning at some road junction at a specific time.

Scott may not be able to come owing to a nephew he is expecting to be born this week in the San Diego area. I have his telephone number to remain in contact with him. Please take it down if I need you to relay information to him: (480) 755-7717 [home].

I may wish to visit the four corners monument at some point - either before (Monday afternoon) or after (Tuesday afternoon) Beautiful Mtn.

I will take two days to drive home as Wednesday and Thursday. However, if Beautiful Mtn is done in just a few hours and I disregard visiting the 4-corners monument, then I can get 300+ miles driven Tuesday afternoon ... and I would be home Wednesday evening October 2.

I also at some point (either on the drive east or on the return west) stop at Winslow, Arizona to see the famous meteor crater. Winslow is right on the planned driving route.

So there are ten NM counties in six days - with either 3 or 4 days of driving at both ends of the trip. The following map shows in violet the counties in mind -

(Note how I get a swath of counties clear across the length of NM right to the Texas border. Again, this is possible because I decided to go to eastern plains counties instead of Truchas Peak as per our conversations).


The tentative driving route to NM is given here -

East on I-8 from San Diego to Yuma, AZ. North on AZ Highway 95 to its intersection with I-10. East on I-10 to Phoenix. North on AZ Highway 17 to Flagstaff and I-40. East on I-40 clear to ABQ.

Flagstaff is perhaps 570 road miles from home and is a decent place to stop for Tuesday night - particular if I can get in touch with Bob Packard who lives there.

Comments regarding sleeping before meeting Edward -

It is unclear where I will sleep Wednesday night. Staying in ABQ is certainly possible. However I can probably make more eastward progress to my intended counties on Wednesday afternoon. That is prudent.

If I go to Elk Mtn of San Miguel County first there is a campground nearby on AZ Highway 63. If I go to the three plains counties first (they are all close to one another so it makes sense to do them on the same day before OR after Elk Mtn), then it is unclear which town I would sleep at along I-40 as it continues east towards the Texas border.

The counties anticipated for Thursday and Friday along with their highpoints -

San Miguel County (Elk Mtn - 11,661 ft)

Guadalupe County (BM Leon - 6,339 ft) BM: BenchMark
De Baca County (Loma Alta, two areas - 5,583 ft)
Quay County (Luciano Mesa - 5,560+ ft)

Eastern New Mexico lies at 4-5,000 feet elevation. So the above three hills are just that - hills rising a few hundred feet above the surrounding plains.

The counties anticipated for Saturday and Sunday along with their highpoints -

Done with Edward Earl. We have not decided which pair of counties will be done which day.

Pair 1 located along AZ border

Cibola County (Mt Taylor - 11,301 ft)
McKinley County (Cerros de Alejandro - 9,166 ft)

These two highpoints are done on different hikes with the drive between them a mere dozen miles or so.

Pair 2 located to south of ABQ in state center

Torrance County (Manzano Peak - 10,098 ft)
Valencia County (unnamed point on Torrance County border - 8,960+ ft)

These two highpoints are done on the SAME HIKE since they are THAT close.

On Monday morning Edward and myself do the following -

Bernalillo County (Sandia Crest - 10,678 ft)

Sandia Crest is a ski resort with a lift to the summit ridge and a road right to the top. Edward and myself will park at least one thousand feet below the top and walk the road for the remaining distance.

The tickets are $14 each and get one to within 300 vertical feet of the summit ... and requires a 3.5 mile round trip along the summit ridge to get there. Since Edward insists on a 1,000 foot gain under his own power, we will walk up the road.

After dropping off Edward at the ABQ airport late Monday morning, I will drive west to the 4-corners area and San Juan County. Since Edward will most likely not be wanting a motel Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights, I will almost certainly want one for myself Monday night - possibly in Ship Rock.

I may meet Scott Surgent Monday evening ... or may meet him Tuesday morning to do the following -

San Juan County (Beautiful Mtn - 9,388 ft)

The tentative driving route home is given here -

simply reverse the driving route for getting to NM ... starting at the AZ / NM border on I-40 rather than starting from ABQ. As noted previously, I might take half of Tuesday plus Wednesday or all of Wednesday and Thursday to drive home.

I look forward to this trip considerably since I am pining away at home doing nothing I really WANT to do.

        Love, Adam