I chose the later of the two. After nearly two weeks of laying around the house, Lisa and I went backpacking up in the White Mountain Wilderness near Ruidoso, NM. Craving a taste of fall, we needed to get away from Las Cruces and head into the mountains for some colored leaves, nice mountains and a hopeful glimpse of some wildlife. We desired the fresh mountain air and a good nights sleep in the mountains.
The trip began with Lisa discovering this little fella basking in the warm afternoon sun on the road as we walked to the trail head. He was quite fresh and only about 6 inches long.
Our trail followed two different rivers up and down their respective canyons. Although we had to cross them several times each, we kept dry and enjoyed the views more than anything.
After several hours of hiking, we came upon some elk grazing in a mountain meadow. It was nearing sunset so the light was not very great. This bull provided us with many minutes of great viewing and even a bugle at one time, it was awesome. Darkness was closing though, so we had to get moving because we were not 100% sure of our location and had not made it to where we wanted to be.
As the sun was setting and panic was beginning to set in because we had not reached any trail junctions or signs indicating we were where we wanted to be, we were treated to beautiful views up on the ridge top. It was hard to enjoy fully though because we were slightly worried and beginning to get cold as we were totally exposed and the wind was quite strong.
After a night of holding the tent walls out/up and doing anything I could to keep the tent upright, it was time to pack up. I no longer wanted to use my perfected "wind hearing" to judge the power of the wind gust that was next going to attempt to blow us off the mountain (10,000ft is a long way to fall!) Plus we were both dehydrated and I was suffering from a serious altitude headache, so the only way to fix that was get to a lower altitude and find some agua!
We packed up and headed down the mountain. The previous day had taken us 4+hours to hike only 6 miles, but that was a majority ascending. Today would be mostly descending, so we expected a slightly shorter hike. We were again surprised as the time ticked off effortlessly as we struggled to follow the trail and navigate the fallen trees and sometimes treacherous path. At one point, we were clinging to the hillside about 20ft above the rocky riverbed below us as we did our best to maintain traction on a tiny dirt path. Maybe we lost the official trail, but I don't think so because the two ends of the treacherous section were met by the normal trail. Nonetheless, we survived and eventually made it out. You can see the happy campers as they reached the trails end after two hard days of hiking.