Along the drive to Colorado we made a a two day pit stop in Taos, New Mexico for some Mexican food and to bag a peak. We set our sights on the highest peak in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak-13,159'. After making the drive up to the Taos ski area we found a free campsite in the heart of the resorts. The following day we headed out on the trail for the short 6.2 mile out and back to the summit. We extended our hike by exploring Williams Lake and the surrounding area; which I highly recommend. Although the hike is only 6.2 miles there is some serious switchbacks at elevation that suck the air out of you. The views from the top are worth the pain.
The first official hike of our two week trip started in Santa Fe. From the Santa Fe ski area you have access to multiple trails a short distance from the Aspen Basin Trailhead. Most folks visiting the area will do a similar distance hike to Lake Katherine. If you are looking for more solitude try the hike to Spirit Lake. On a bust Saturday in July we were the only people at the lake.
Starting from the Aspen Basin Trailhead you follow the Windsor Trail around six miles to your destination. Don't be discouraged by the beginning of the hike as a majority of the elevation gain is in the first mile or so. After that initial climb the trail levels out and crosses creeks multiple times. The trail does have one more notable climb and then a final drop to Spirit Lake. You can do this as a day hike or as an overnighter. Either way make sure you spend some time at the lake enjoying the quiet.
Our two week road trip through New Mexico and Colorado had to begin with a long drive. After spending the better part of a day behind the wheel, we found ourselves in Santa Fe. After attempting to get some camping recommendations in town we decided to use freecampsites.net. The site was our main source of located free camping throughout the two weeks. The first campsite we found was occupied but since we were committed we continued down the road till we located a spot. After a solid our on dirt we found a quiet location. We quickly set up the tent and I strapped on my running shoes. A long drive and no pre-run was a bad idea.