Agua Fria Peak

Alpine tableau on the summit of Agua Fria Peak

30 JULY 2022 W5N/CM-008

Route: A labyrinth of spec roads
Hike Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 200′
Navigation: Difficult
Steepness: Easy
Vehicle: Passenger car
Road: Good dirt road
Cell Coverage: None on the summit (Verizon), Good APRS
Hike basics

Cassie (KG6MZR) and I tried this summit on the previous weekend by taking the Angel Fire “Chile” ski lift to the summit. The lift is now $21.00 and rather a noisy affair. We wandered around in the maze of roads on the summit and never did actually make it into the activation zone. The threat afternoon monsoonal thundershowers caused us to abandon hunting for the summit.

So the following weekend I decided to try again, this time avoiding the cacophonous crowd of mountain bikers on the pricey lift and the late 9am lift start time and drove beyond the top of the “Chilie” lift. Not being bound by the late 9am lift start time, I was able to get up there much earlier in the morning to hopefully beat the afternoon rain that was in the forecast. It is possible to drive up following El Camino Real up from the bottom of the lift through a neighborhood of ski cabins. I parked by a large water tank at 36° 22.0598′ N, 105° 13.6843′ W on a good, well drained dirt road that only got a little rough at the very end.

A word of caution on this peak. Obviously the area was set out to be a neighborhood on paper. There is a rabbit’s warren of cleared “roads” through the dense forest – none of witch lead directly to this rolling summit. Route finding in the forest and the fog can be challenging with most landmarks obscured. Make a careful note of your route — it is pretty easy to get turned around. I ended up walking an extra half mile in a circle when I came down. At the end of the closest track to the actual summit I found a route marked with DayGlo orange tape that led to the summit clearing.

Another warning: most of the roads listed on most maps are so-called “paper streets” — neighborhoods that have been laid out but do not actually exist.

On this morning the entire summit was wreathed in low clouds an everything was dripping wet from yesterday’s rain. Mushrooms and wildflowers were everywhere. the summit itself is just up from a wide alpine glade to the south that makes a pleasant spot to set up on numerous trees. The activation zone on this rolling summit is huge.

I quickly set up the station and made 14 contacts. I had no idea when the rain would start as there was not good visibility, so I wrapped things up sooner than I otherwise might’ve. I kept feeling drops but I wasn’t sure if that was rain starting or just moisture blowing off the trees.

Sunrise from El Prado on the drive up.
The station on a cloudy morning
Looking south on the way down once I got under the clouds
More mushrooms. All this needs is a caterpillar and a hookah.

Published by wringmaster

I'm a graphic artist in the movie business. When I was a kid I got interested in astronomy. When it would get too cloudy to observe the heavens, my buddy and I would sit at the VFO of his Hallicrafters S 38c like safe crackers trying to coax faraway signals out of that humble radio. My love of astronomy and radio survive to this day fifty+ years later.

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