Our original plan was to climb up to the Encino Lookout from the area around Youngsville. I had some concerns because you have cross about 4.8 miles of state land to get to the public space. Sometimes state land is fenced and posted no trespassing, other times it’s not. When it’s not you can cross it. This time we were locked out. We probably could have done and not get caught. I have never seen any rangers or law enforcement on state land. Hell I have never seen anyone on state land. The hope of doing this hike is not lost. More about that at the end of this post.

We had to come up with a new plan that got Nancy back to SF by 5:00. I wanted something with the symmetry of Encino Mesa, and like Encino Mesa, we likely would not be able to make the summit with the time we had.  Crossing private property, needing a permit, crossing back into public land, and doing a big climb. Mesa Montosa, next to Ghost Ranch fit that bill. I had made a couple of tries to climb it before and gotten cliffed out or the trail into was wrong. Satellite photos indicated it may be possible from Chimney Rock, one of the main attractions on the tourist agenda.

So that’s what we did. There was a surprisingly good social trail beyond chimney rock that headed way up to the face of Mesa Montosa. We kept following it longer than we should have hoping to find a break in the cliffs that would get us to the top. Someone thought it was possible because they cairned a route all the way. So we found ourselves up against the cliff edge of Mesa Montosa on a very steep slope and there was no way we were getting to the top. At that point I wanted to finish my sandwich and get the hell out of there!

We did that and after a very careful down climb, we were back to the bench below the cliff band. That steep climb was worth it however…more about that later. I knew there was a possible way up to the mesa top to the East of us, a gully with a low enough slope angle that should work. We weren’t going to have to time to go all the way to the top but we could check it out. We did that and found out that it just might work. That’s enough to feed the imagination for the next time we are here. Stats are 5.61 miles, 1856 feet ascent, 4 hours.  Nancy King, CK, Shuhrong, Gustaaf van Morseel.

Disclosure: There are ways to the top of Mesa Montosa that dispense with all the frivolity I describe here. The CDT crosses the mesa so you can go that way if inclined or from North on dirt roads.

About going onto state land. The following provides resources to get a state recreational permit. It costs $35.00 per calendar year and you need to state on the permit where you intend to go but it does provide access to all state land trust properties. Those resources are:

NM State Land Office Recreation

Permit Application PDF

This next part is for navigation geeks so if your eyes glaze over easily, skip this part. The climb up into the cliff band proved a couple of things:

01) Google Earth exaggerates slope angle making it appear steeper than it actually is.

02) Hiking (especially downhill) on a slope angle of up to 35% is possible with care and can be done in most instances without using hands for support. Hiking poles are of great assistance however.

…okay geek stuff over. Trip report over also.

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