Our destination, Sierra Blanca (11,980'). The true summit is the summit on the right. We ascended the rocky ridge line on the right which connects to Lookout Mountain and the ski area.
At 8:30am we started at the trailhead for Trail #15 at the last switchback before the parking area at the Ski Apache ski area.
The reported distance from a trip report we found on the internet was 9.5 miles, 2,700' of gain, and 6+ hours. We ran when we could and hiked the rest and had smaller numbers than all of those.
Allison was straight out of a Patagonia catalog...pants, sports bra, shirt, vest, gloves and hat!
Gnarly. Someone's Thanksgiving dinner or a sad deer very bad compound fracture.
Much of the initial hiking was very reminiscent of the Pajarito Mountain area...dense stands of pine trees, aspen trees and wide open meadows.
We ran into some snow on the north -facing slopes and treed slopes but overall it was warm (38 degrees when we started) and sunny.
I loved this section. Very runnable, sunny and with a nice view of the ski area
At the saddle we turned left on trail 78 along the ridge towards the ski area and Sierra Blanca
Right on the border of the White Mountain Wilderness but we were mostly in the Lincoln National Forest and the Mescalero-Apache land.
Looking at Lookout Mountain, 11,580' (closer peak) and Sierra Blanca, 11,980'.
A three-shot panoramic from the ridge looking southwest. You can see White Sands left of center in the background. With over 5,500' of prominence, the views from up here are amazing.
Closeup of White Sands
As we neared Lookout Mountain, the route went up the man-made snow on a run called “Chino Ambush”
Just below the summit of Lookout Mountain looking north
From near Lookout Mountain looking at Sierra Blanca
Heading up the steep northeastly slope of Sierra Blanca with Lookout Mountain in the background.
Wild backcountry granite
Just below the summit of Sierra Blanca
On the summit of Sierra Blanca at 10:40am
Looking southerly with White Sands in the background
A great way to spend Thanksgiving morning. The hike up of nearly five miles took us 2 hours, 9 minutes and we didn't see another person. The 360 degree view from the summit was awesome.
We ran down the snow on the north ridge to start the hike back
Even more snow fence and Lookout Mountain
On the way down we went over Lookout Mountain, 11,530'. There was a nice concrete platform and wall complete with plaques pointing out the various landmarks. This one points to the Carrizozo lava flow which is the dark terrain down in the valley.
Closeup of the lava flow. It looked like a cloud shadow. Very cool.
On Lookout Mountain
Heading down we opted to just stay on the closed runs with man-made snow. It was much faster and a bit shorter back to the car.
We were able to run down the ski runs and we each only slipped onto our asses once
There it is...the one run with enough man-made snow on it to allow skiing. At least there was a fun box.
Back at the trailhead at 12:20pm for a total hike time of 3 hours, 50 minutes.
Gratuitous grandpa shot with his dog, Cash.