September 21, 2002
The drive to Kenton from Taos took a little longer than I thought. There isn't a really direct approach to Kenton but after many miles of backroads and secondary highways I arrived at the trailhead around 3:00 p.m. There was the highpoint convention going on in Kenton and some highpointers had just finished the hike as I was getting my stuff ready. I began talking to one guy and the subject of Mt. Hood came up in our conversation. It turns out, he was involved in the tragic accident on May 30th, 2002. Him and his partner had summited Mt. Hood that day and were descending below the Pearly Gates when a member of another party slipped above them dragging that party down and crashing into them. He told me had dug his ax into the ice trying to arrest the group but it just cut through the soft ice all the way down to the bergshrund. He told me that he blacked out for awhile and when he woke up he had landed on his feet. Tragically, his partner lost his life in that accident and he has decided not to clmb technical peaks for awhile. He is only 4 summits away from completing all of the 50 high points but has put aside Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley. The accident was especially hard on his family since the media had reported him dead at first. Best wishes to him and his family in dealing with this tragic accident. After talking with him for over 1/2 hour I hit the trail thinking about Mt. Hood and my own experience on the mountain, and also what a strange world it is sometimes.
The trail remains pretty flat for the first couple miles so I decided to jog off and on. I passed several other high pointers returning from their hike along the way. The trail continues heading west through the bushes and cactus.
After a couple miles the trail turns south and you can see the route up the mesa show in the photo below.
Once gaining the top of the mesa it is still about a mile to the actual high point. I passed another couple a few hundred yards before the highpoint. I arrived at my 2nd highpoint of the day right at 5 p.m. a little over an hour after I started, and about 8 hours after standing on New Mexico's highest point. The momument has 4 sides for each of the directions north, south, east, and west with some facts written on each side. For example the north side states that Colorado is 6.7 miles due north.
I talked with the couple that had just arrived and we took turns taking photographs for each other. The woman told me her was father founded the highpointers club more than 20 years ago. I guess it was just my day to meet some extraordinary people. After talking with them for a little while I headed back to the trailhead and arrived back at my car at 6 p.m. taking just over 2 hours to complete the hike. It was a long drive back to I-25 taking some dirt roads and a roundabout way back to Raton. All things considered, A very nice road trip, sometimes you have to just get out and drive and the long open spaces of New Mexico provided just the cure.