On Sunday, 11/03/2019, we set out to hike to the top of Deception Peak. The goal was for this to be our first winter hike as Santa Fe, NM received about 4” of snow in the week before. Being from Arkansas originally we have done absolutely no snow hiking. So we got up around 6am, the extra hour of sleep was awesome, so that we could grab Starbucks and be on the road to Santa Fe by 7am. The drive took about a hour and a half to reach the trailhead in the Santa Fe National Forest and right by Ski Santa Fe. We were only the third car at the trailhead. We got loaded up and started around 8:30am with a temperature of around 30 degrees.
The first mile is a gradual uphill through a pine forest. There was a stream right by the start that was frozen over but you could hear the water running underneath the ice. At the mile-ish mark we hit a fence. At this point we were supposed to make a sharp right hand turn to go up Raven’s Ridge but we missed the turn and continued on until All Trails alerted us that we were off course. We turned around and located our turn on the second try. There seemed to be about 2” of snow still left so we put on some REI low hiking gaiters that we had purchased the week before to keep snow out of our shoes. It was definitely a good call.
We followed the trail down a barb wire fence on a gradual uphill for another mile before making another sharp right hand turn to head up towards Deception Peak. We saw our first few views on this section of the trail including frozen Nambe Lake down below. That might be our hiking objective next week. We hiked upwards for the next mile or so up to about 12,000’. The trail has two slight downhill sections to break up the ascent but we could tell they would be a pain coming back.
Once we broke through the tree line the wind picked up like crazy. To the point that it felt like it would almost blow you over. The snow disappeared at this point and it was just a straight hike up loose rock to the ridge and a short walk down the ridge to the summit of Deception Peak. We took a few pictures from the summit and then I decided to give the ridge scramble across to Lake Peak a try. Supposedly this was a class 3 scramble that depending on who you ask was either rather difficult or easy. Safe to say I found it rather difficult. I managed to snake my way back and forth across the ridge looking for a path to the halfway point. Then I encountered a bit of an obstacle that I tried to down climb around. But I decided it was too sketchy for me and turned back. Somewhere along the scramble back I managed to rip the top of my new gaiters. Hopefully I can repair them with some sort of patch.
After I got back to Deception Peak we again trudged through the crazy winds back to the tree line. We accidentally overshot the trail back down and made it most of the way to the top of the Ski Santa Fe lifts. Rather than backtrack through the wind we just made a diagonal path across and hit the trail around the tree line. Then we slipped and slid most of the way back down to the car.
Total distance according All Trails was 7.5 miles using my iPhone. My Apple Watch using Strava came out to 8.4 miles. I like to claim the extra distance using Strava with a moving time of 4 hours and 1 minute which makes for an average speed of 2.1 mph, definitely not blazing fast. On the way home we had to stop at a Ikonic Coffee Roasters for some coffee and bagels! It did end up being a much longer day than expected and we didn’t get home until around 2pm
I will say this hike was a bit of a tough sludge up the hill in the snow. And it was rather disappointing to not get to the top of Lake Peak. But the views from Deception Peak were pretty awesome and I would give our first snow outing a big thumbs up. Other than the crazy winds at the top the temperatures were pretty manageable and we never got too cold. We are both in agreement that Santa Fe might be our new location for a little while. Gear used for this trip (Links are to Amazon) Pack - Osprey Stratos 24L Poles - Black Diamond Trail Sport 3 Water Bladder - Osprey Hydraulics LT 2.5L Shoes - Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX Gloves - Black Diamond Mont Blanc Gaiters - REI Backpacker Low (Link to comparable product) GPS - alltrails.com on iPhone GPS - Strava on Apple Watch