April 4, 2018

This hike was originally titled Cañada del Horno, Espinosa Trail, Lobato Mesa. We got to two of those but not Lobato Mesa. It became pretty clear early on that we weren’t going to make it which leads me to my first lesson:

Lesson 1: If it’s all exploratory. Tell them that we may not be able to do everything in the title.

Since we weren’t going to make it all the way, I decided to put in some shortcuts to get as high as we could. We got pretty high but off route as well. At least we could see what the correct route was. Here comes lesson two:

Lesson 2: Stick to the route you had planned in advance. it’s probably better to do it without shortcuts.

The hike back was uneventful and I used my waypoints to cut off some mileage so we could get back in reasonable time. Reasonable time. Next lesson:

Lesson 3: Give yourself all the time you’re going to need. if you need to get up early, get up early.

Near the top of a short, high mesa we used to short cut into the canyon, I lost Z and Ann. The climb was really steep and they are faster than me. The wind was blowing and as they started to disappear over the ridge, I yelled and blew my whistle. They were about 200 yards away but they did not hear me. There are a few lessons here:

Lesson 4: Whistles, even good ones, don’t carry sound that far. This is has been borne out in my experience, many times. Lesson 5: Give out your cell number to everyone in case of separation. Lesson 6: Provide information of what to do if separation occurs. This varies depending upon where you are but usually heading for a major landmark like a road works if you can’t count on everyone reaching the trailhead.

The most important lesson of all is that separations are a consequence of hiking in groups and it will happen regardless of precautions taken. Understand this and incorporate it into your planning.

Okay lessons over. It was still pretty awesome. Cañon del Horno is worth a hike through all by itself. I’ll be going back there. Will I do the Z-Maes route again? Emphatically yes! Hikers where Ann Maes, Z, and SK Lund. 10.13 miles, 2296 feet of ascent, 7 hours and 7 minutes.

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