We finally made it! After hiking the first 45” of the Yerba Canyon Trail on July 4th before heading to the Arroyo Seco Parade, Terry and I had been looking for an opportunity to return to follow the trail to the top of the canyon and perhaps to Lobo Peak. We returned on a recent Saturday, eager to resume our trek.

The trail starts out gentle, but...

The trail starts out gentle, but…

We repeated our steps up to the majestic rock wall, over 15 stream crossings, past sunny meadows and aspen groves scattered amid majestic Ponderosa Pines. All was as we remembered, though a bit less humid, which made our hike very pleasant, at first. As we passed the point we turned around on our last hike, we noted that there were two additional stream crossings. Jack, one of our English Cocker Spaniels, was delighted.

The end of Yerba Canyon did not mark the end of our trail as anticipated...

The end of Yerba Canyon did not mark the end of our trail as anticipated…

It was then that the trail became dicey. While the first two miles had been gentle, though consistently ascending, the trail suddenly became more vertical. We found ourselves climbing, rather than walking. We climbed and climbed and climbed some more. Eventually we reached the end of Yerba Canyon, and felt relief, thinking this would be the end of the trail. But on it went, climbing with variations of steepness. Clouds began to roll in and we made sure to watch them. Even without the risk of lightening, given the steepness of this trail, we did not want to be hiking it, up or down, in the rain.

On we hiked, anticipating the end to be around every corner, only to be disappointed by more ascending trail. It had taken us two hours to reach the top of Italianos Canyon, a four mile hike. Yerba was a shorter hike; still it was two hours and 45 minutes before we reached the end of the trail. Relieved to finally be at the top, we stood for a moment, enjoying the view and chatting with another hiker. Clouds continued to roll in, so rather than attempt to reach Lobo Peak that day, we headed down to avoid having to negotiate that trail when it was wet.

Yerba Canyon ViewWhile it did not rain on our way down, both Terry and I took falls on separate parts of the steep terrain. My fall was rather spectacular as I tripped over a rock and fell forward, landing all of my 144 pounds on my left shoulder. As I write this I am pleased to say no ill effects were suffered and we made it down safely. Our total hiking time was 4 hours 45 minutes.

The end of the Yerba Canyon Trail, finally!

The end of the Yerba Canyon Trail, finally!

Just to compare, when we summited Lobo Peak via Italianos Canyon Trail our total hiking time was 5 hours 18 minutes, but four miles of that hike involved hiking to the Peak and back. I’m thinking the next time we want to get near Lobo Peak, we will travel via another route. Once (well, twice, actually) on this trail is enough! As a reward, we treated ourselves to a lovely afternoon listening to a favorite local band up at the Taos Ski Valley with a cold beverage! Band, beverage and ambiance were delicious!

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