Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Socorro Mountain Biking: Quebradas Backcountry Byway

57 miles
2600 gain/loss

Season: fall, winter, spring

Socorro Fat Tire Website
BLM Quebradas Backcountry Byway page (with map link)

Quebradas Backcountry Byway:

This dirt road winds its way through some lonesome desert in central New Mexico.  Just east of Socorro, this ride first came to our attention when looking for larger loops for winter riding in New Mexico.

It's not 'mountain biking' per se, and would be perfect for a 'gravel' touring type bike with a front shock.  I rode it on my Fargo, and Sarah rejoiced in riding it with her suspension bike.  Both had their pluses and minuses on this ride.

Typically done from the town plaza in downtown Socorro, it starts and ends along the farm roads (paved and dirt) of the Rio Grande valley.  Indeed, this ride is a great way to see both the surrounding desert and the farming areas along the Rio Grande.  Of particular interest is the crazy exposed geology of the Loma de las Cañas range that the road rides along and finally crosses (see the map below), and the desert flora, like Ocotillo.

Definitely worth contemplating if you're looking for some easier miles without the pavement.

The ride with the green start point being the plaza in Socorro.

The ride within the greater Southwest context.

The high point pass has a tank the will most likely NOT have water

Farm Market Road, with no traffic becomes the 'ditch' road which is gravel.
Highway 380 heading west down into San Antonito

1. NO WATER SOURCES: Bring enough water for the entire 57 mile route, although you could possibly bum water off a local resident once back along the Rio Grande.

2. Backcountry riding gear is required: first aid, repair, etc.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Santa Fe Baldy Skiing: Spring Tour

~13 miles
~ 5k gain
~2 900ft lines

Long lines are not something you wish for unless you're backcountry skiing or mountain biking.  Santa Fe Baldy has some of the longest continuous lines in New Mexico.  Although benign, boring, and bare from the front (west) side, SF Baldy's backside has bowls as good as Williams Lake Basin, or the San Juans.  Three bowls, each with striking lines could present a full weekend of skiing (or more).  It's a bit of a haul to get up there, but the payoff can be awesome.

I escaped for a day trip up there and found some sweet corn.  Thankfully conditions were perfect and my timing was only slightly late on the second run. Purposefully alone, I only saw one hiker on his way out at 7:15 or so.  I also saw 1 set of tracks, on perhaps a very similar tour as me.  That seemed to be from the prior weekend or during the early part of the week.

Baldy's southern bowl, with more lines not shown underneath the camera as well. 
Lake Katherine's bowl has the prime couloirs, although a few have cornices to negotiate. 

Looking to the future cliché shot.

Baldy's Katherine Face  is fairly steep and classic.

A line in the southern bowl I chose.

Looking south to Lake and Penitente Peaks.

How to get there:
Go to the (lower) Northwest corner of the parking area for Ski Santa Fe, and here you'll find the Winsor Trailhead (254), hike this up and over into the wilderness area and onward to the Skyline trail(251), which is found at about 4 miles and 10900ft.  Typically hikers and a skier or two have created a track to follow. Baldy will be on your left eventually, and you don't have to follow the trail per se.  Head up to the ridge and pick your bowl and line.

The map below shows you Santa Fe Baldy in the upper righthand corner.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Crestones Skiing: Cottonwood loop.

Sometimes it takes several jaunts into an area to get it right.  Crestones are now in that category for me.  Weather made for poor/frozen skiing, but also thunder and lightning prevented summiting anything as well. The terrain is awesome and I will definitely be back.
I was able to ski a loop that featured all the main peaks and couloirs I'd be interested in.  I did learn a valuable lesson as well.  Never go up Cottonwood Creek to get up to the Crestones in spring.  Always go the Colony Lakes way (mileage isn't as time consuming as bushwhacking in mushy thigh deep snow).

Aislado and Sky and Micah's line, Cottonwood Juice Box

An unnamed couloir

The long way in.  and so happy to be on skiable terrain finally.

The lower part of the Juice Box.

Aislado has some good lines on it, that I did not check out due to the conditions in the juice Box.

Crestones from Crestonita Pass. The high point of my loop tour.

Back down in the shwacking, I wished it had been better.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Albuquerque Mountain Biking: Flowy Placitas trails.

Backcountry skiing is nearly set for Green conditions for our Spring Break, but meantime we are staying fit on our local trails near Albuquerque while we are swamped at work.

At the northern foot of the Sandia Mountains lies a sweet set of quick access mountain biking trails.
Placitas, NM has some open space just 30 mins from ABQ, with trails that are not published per se, so they are fairly empty, despite being very good.  They are fast, flowy, and a good cardio workout.  They also have some great technical downhills up above the flats, near the wilderness boundary.

You can find them, at least on Strava, or just one main righthand turn beyond (south) of The Merc store on Highway 165 in Placitas.  The parking is good, but expect to explore, as the trails are not signed.

19 miles
2224 ft.
2.25 hours

Monday, February 16, 2015

Socorro Mountain Biking: Cerrillos del Coyote Area

Stats: (2 short rides)
Arroyo de la Parida
13.2 miles
1050ft gain
Cerrillos del Coyote race loop
10.5 miles
900ft gain

Suggested Season: Late Fall/Winter/Early Spring

We've always wanted to try out some of the mountain biking in Socorro, NM.  And, although I had biked a loop on the GET just north of there, neither of us had done the biking found on the Socorro MTB page.  So, with Gallop trails still muddy/out-of-shape according to the riders out there, we went down for the weekend with some friends to get an initial taste of what was offered.  We went with our friends Stephen and Karen

Ride 1: Arroyo de la Parida
We thought the best place to start would be the old Cerritos del Coyote race loop.  Never having been there before, we got lost trying to find it the first day, and instead rode a loop around the north end of the Quebradas Scenic Byway road.  It would make for great fat-biking, with lots of sand at the end, as you head out to Pueblito, but the majority of the riding was fun and there were some ruins to check out.
This ride should be started at the same parking lot as for the Cerrillos del Coyote loop found 2.6 miles up the Quebradas Scenic Byway road on the right (south) side of the road. Head east one mile on the Byway and take a left up a steep somewhat rocky road. Follow this road up and down fun hills and drop down into the Arroyo where the road follows a fence line back west.  Just after passing a ruin on the northside of the fence, go a bit further and head left at an ATV fence crossing, through a wash , and up a grade. Once on top head west along the top of the mesa, and follow the main track all the way into the sandy wash that leads back to Pueblo (where one accesses the Scenic Byway from the Rio Grande).  Then head back on the Scenic Byway east to the parking lot.

Ride 2:

The second day we found the Cerritos del Coyote trailhead parking lot, and rode the good (if baby-heady) single track through some sweet arroyos and geology.  If there's one quality that stands out about this ride, it is the geology...  The Hogback in particular is fun riding along a limestone ridgeline.  We marks all the turns with cairns, and the information online is pretty good.  Still there were only a few bike tracks to follow since the last rain, which shows this area, although worthy of interest, see probably just a hand full of riders each week.
Follow the information on the Race Page, but know that the route is best ridden counter clockwise and that the last 2miles or so are on the Scenic Byway.

The parking area at mile 2.6 on the Scenic Byway.

The view westward

Heading southward up out of the initial arroyos section 

Skinny trail is fun and rocky with good views.

A road section on the southern part of the loop

Along a part of the Hogback

from the hogsback section the trail head north to Cerrillos del Coyote 
The two rides are north and across the river from Socorro.  Ext 190 Escondida and look for signs for Quebradas Scenic Byway.
Original race course pic off the Socorro Fat Tire Web Page.