SUNNY NEW MEXICO
page has important information that you will need to know before you leave home for
your adventure. We will cover :
Llama trekking takes place outdoors...surprise,
surprise...and that is where the weather is. The weather is part
of your adventure. We all want the weather to be perfect and it is most of the
time. When you are outside for an extended period of time, it is always wise to know the
weather forecast so that you can be prepared. With adequate weather knowledge, we can
bring the protection we will need to stay warm and dry.
If you are a weather watcher as I am, you know that
the National Weather Service with all its satellites and computers won't stick their necks
out in their forecasting for more then ten days. So I'm going to tell what the weather
will be next summer? Sure.
I am going to talk in generalities and tell you to
watch "The Weather Channel" or consult their web site at www.weather.com just before you leave for the latest update.
Their home page gives you the
USA weather map showing the fronts, low and high pressure cells. To get to the Taos page,
enter the zip code 87571 in the appropriate box and click. Just remember
that the weather forecast is for the town of Taos at 7000 ft while we will be at higher
elevations. What you need to know is:
The locations of the jet streams.
If the northern jet stream is straight across the country and away from New Mexico,
chances are we are enjoying mild weather. If it swoops down from the northwest and crosses
New Mexico, the fronts will be passing through our area bringing unsettled weather. These
fronts usually pass quite rapidly.
The temperatures listed on the
weather channel are approximate but usually pretty close. In the mountains, subtract 5 ºF
from the Taos forecast high for each 1000 ft. of altitude above Taos for the day time
high, e.g., the day time high at 10,000 ft. will be 15 °F cooler. The early morning low
listed is usually close as I've found that the mountains are usually just a little cooler
during the expedition season than the town in the places we will be camped.
As always, in the mountains, "the
higher, the cooler". THINK ALPINE! In addition, inclement summer weather is
stronger at higher elevations. This is normal for mountains and in the New Mexico Rockies,
the dividing line is around 11,000 feet elevation (the tree line is approximately 11,700
feet). Also in mountains, weather can be highly localized and some locations experience
more weather than others. We are familiar with these patterns and can compensate when
When a high pressure cell is located over us, we
enjoy cloudless skies and views that exceed a hundred miles. The most likely times for
these are June and early July and September but can extend into other times.
Days of sustained rains are rare in New
Mexico but occur once or twice during the summer.
What is more likely is what are called monsoons. This is a flow of air from the south or
southwest that causes afternoon and early evening showers. On the weather channel
satellite pictures, you will see streams of clouds coming into the southwest USA from
Mexico. While these showers are sometimes heavy, they are usually light and brief. They
can start as early as the first week of June or as late as August and last until mid
August or early September. They are of little concern for expeditions except if they are
accompanied with lightning. We deal with this situation by not being on the ridges when
there is the possibility of lightning. This has not been a problem. A typical day during
the monsoons has the sun and clear skies in the morning with clouds gathering during the
day with a brief shower followed by clearing skies, and no clouds during the night.
New Mexico gets 40% of its annual precipitation from these showers and they
keep the mountain flora green and lush.
Snow is possible in the mountains in
the early and late portions of the season. Usually these are light snow
showers and melt rapidly. We avoid extremes by planning the expeditions with the weather
in mind, moving operations up into the higher mountains with the advancing warm weather
and moving operations in the opposite direction as Fall descends from the peaks.
The Northern New Mexico Rockies get the
weather typical of mountains. Because of our lower latitude, we enjoy some
benefits over the mountains in the states to the north. Our snow melts earlier in the
spring and arrives later in the fall. The sun is at a higher angle in the sky yielding
more solar gain. This means that even cool days are toasty if the sun is shining. I have
characterized the mountain weather here as " the whole outdoors is air
Don't think of Northern New Mexico mountains as hot!
These mountains are the Southern Rockies and not desert. THINK ALPINE!
Watching the Weather Channel can be frustrating if
you live in Taos. The bad weather is always somewhere else and the announcer stands in
front of New Mexico while discussing it for the folks getting dumped on.
More generalities... these are the
temps I've observed in these mountains.
June and September are usually cool and dry: Days 50°-65° F, nights 35°-42° F.
July and August are warmer with showers
possible: Days 60°-70°F, nights 42°-50°F.
May and October are mixed with snow possible: Days 40°-60° F , nights 24°-35° F.
************* Don't forget... the higher, the cooler.
UV exposure in the mountains in
much more intense than at lower elevations. The amount of UV climbs about 5 % with every
1000 feet of altitude. So, for example, at 10,000 feet, the UV hitting your skin is
approximately 50 % greater than at sea level. Sunscreens are helpful, but for maximum
protection, sunblocks or nonporous clothing is best if you have sensitive skin.
The Northern New Mexico mountains don't
A few things we don't have are:
- Humidity: Most of the summer days are
like the cool fall days of the Midwest and East.
- Mosquitoes: They are an endangered
- Swarms of biting insects: There are some
flies but they rarely bite.
- Lyme Disease: No deer ticks means no
- Poison ivy, oak or sumac: Sorry, they
just won't grow here.
- Bear problems: No grizzlies at all and
the black bears have not associated humans with food and we are keeping it that way.
- Heat: This is alpine country:
trees, flowers, meadows, and streams. Think of those glorious fall
days in the mid-west or back east and that is a typical summer day in our mountains.
- Desert: Think alpine.
On the East Fork trail going to
SUGGESTED CLOTHING & EQUIPMENT
· Dress according to the month of your expedition ... warmer clothing in May, June, Sept, Oct ... cooler clothing
in July and Aug.( See
typical expected temperatures above.)
Dry mountain air and wind make the actual temperature seem cooler. Think Alpine.
Dress in layers for maximum flexibility. Synthetic materials like
polyester for underwear next to your skin will stay dry when you perspire.
Cotton/polyester blends or straight polyester for the next layer followed by layers of
synthetic (polar fleece is nice). Top it off with a wind breaker or rain cover.
Two piece rain gear is a must for staying dry. Ponchos are handy, but the water
will run off the bottom and into your boots and they won't keep you dry in a downpour or
when walking through tall wet grass or bushes. Good quality gear is the key here. It can
be reinforced plastic, waterproofed cloth or Gore-Tex.
Tevas or low cut canvas sneakers are needed to wade streams ... wet
hiking boots are no fun. Note: You will be advised if streams will be encountered on your
A word to the wise. If you skimp to save a buck on your trek clothing, you may end up paying a
comfort penalty on your trek. Cheap plastic rain gear will tear and you will get wet.
Cotton and wool takes an awful long time to dry and if you are wearing wet cotton or wool,
you are going to be uncomfortable. Synthetics like polyester are much more comfortable
when wet and will actually dry while you wear it. Trek gear doesn't have to be expensive,
it has to be adequate. And try everything on before you leave home.
Obviously, the clothing requirements for a Day Hike are
not the same as those for an Expedition.
You (each person) are allowed a maximum of 20 pounds of
personal items for the llamas to carry. Twenty pounds in an enormous amount of gear, way
more than you will need if you keep it all simple and practical. Please Note: The weight
of the sleeping bag is included in this twenty pounds (our rental bag weighs 5 lbs.).
Bringing Kids? The little ones
need to be properly clothed and equipped even more than adults. Their bodies
are smaller and get chilled faster and they are far less likely to grin and bear it. Keep
them warm and dry. Don't skimp here either. Especially important is adequate rain gear.
Sources: Here are a few places to try for gear: www.rei.com www.sierratradingpost.com www.campmor.com www.gear.com
Other clothing items to include are:
Broad rimmed hat for sun protection. It
will protect you from the UV far better than sunscreen.
Hiking boots must be well broken in and
properly fit. They must be sturdy with some ankle support and stiff soles. They must fit
well with the socks you intend to hike in and they must be waterproofed. Take a long
walk in your boots with the socks you will use on your adventure before you leave home. If
your feet hurt or are uncomfortable, fix the problem before you leave home. DON'T
SKIMP IN THIS DEPARTMENT. Obviously, boot requirements for a long
expedition are greater than those for a short day hike... use common sense.
Hiking socks are also best in layers. A
synthetic like "cool max" next to your skin will wick away moisture and a top
layer that is thick enough to provide a cushion. This top layer is best to be synthetic in
warm weather and wool when it is cold. ABSOLUTELY NO COTTON!!!
Shirts can be varied... short sleeve
when it is warm and long sleeve when it is cool. Polyester or a polyester/cotton blend. NO
Sweater or Jacket is
essential all year. A synthetic like polyester or polar fleece is best. A MUST
HAVE ITEM! NO COTTON!!!
Hiking shorts when on the trail in warm
weather. Long legged slacks for the evening and other cool times.
"Zip-Offs" are the best in this department. Polyester or cotton/polyester are
Knit hat for cool days, evenings and
early mornings. Polyester is best. A MUST HAVE ITEM!
Gloves or mittens will keep your
fingers warm in the cool of the morning and evening. Again polyester. A MUST HAVE
Misc.. Small towel, handkerchiefs,
toiletries (no perfumes or scented articles, biodegradable soaps only,
and we supply the T.P.). Lightweight two piece long johns are nice to
have if your expedition is in the early or late season. A lightweight flashlight
and a couple of spare batteries will ease the darkness. Lightweight binoculars
are neat to shorten the distance between you and wildlife. If you like to lounge and read,
bring a small paperback. Stay away from heavy hard-bound books.
Sunglasses (polarized are great, as are
UV blocking is a must.). A MUST HAVE ITEM! A
spare pair of eyeglasses might come in handy.
Water bottle to carry in a belt pouch or
daypack. A quart size will do and we will refill it for you. It must be leak
MUST HAVE ITEM!
pack: A day pack is essential to carry those items you will need while hiking
such as camera, film, rain gear, sun block (SPF 15 min.), extra socks, water bottle and
sunglasses. A MUST HAVE ITEM!
If you bring your own sleeping
bag, it must be rated to 20ºF.
This will give you a margin to cover any possible variations in the weather. The bag must
be filled with synthetic insulation or down. The bag must
be compressible to a size of 8" diameter x 20" long. The
weight of your sleeping bag should not exceed 5 pounds. This weight is included in your 20
pound weight allowance. (Don't bring one of those cheap heavy sleeping bags.
If your bag is rectangular, has a colorful flannel lining and can't be
compressed to the above dimensions, you will be cold and miserable. A bag suitable for backpacking is the right
idea.) If you do not have a suitable sleeping bag, we can rent one to you for a nominal
fee. See the Sleeping Bag Rates.
See the terms and conditions for expeditions on the
TERMS, CONDITIONS & FEES page for directions on how to pack all this stuff.
· IF YOU ARE DRESSED PROPERLY SO THAT YOU ARE WARM AND
DRY, YOU WILL HAVE A WONDERFUL TIME.
A wonderful place to camp at 10,800
All you need to bring are the items listed
above, i.e., personal items such as clothing, sleeping bag, camera, binoculars,
etc. Everything else is provided by El Paseo LLama. This is a partial
list of the gear we use and will inform you, among other things, about your shelter.
- Kelty Quattro Tents: These are three
season tents suitable for use through our entire season. With 14 tie down stakes, wind is
never a problem and they are sturdy enough to handle the light snows that are possible in
the late spring and early fall. With two large zippered windows, there is plenty of
ventilation. We use two models: the Quattro 2 is 47 sq.
ft. and is roomy for two adults.
The Quattro 4 is 60 sq. ft. and is roomy for three adults and suitable for two adults and
two small children.
- Thermorest Mattresses:
These sleeping pads are self inflating air mattresses. They are 1.75"
thick and are full length assuring the user of a comfortable night's sleep.
- Our kitchen includes everything...
plates, mugs, pots and pans, propane stoves and even a shelter for those rain moments.
- We carry extensive first aid gear and
can handle most any situation. In the past eight seasons, we have passed out three or four
Band-Aids, a couple of pieces of moleskin, a few ibuprofen
and a couple Pepto Bismo. These expeditions have the
usual risks and hazards associated with wilderness travel. Proper and
appropriate precautions and actions minimize the effects.
Read the Safety Rules.
- We bring along all the ropes, shovels, saws and other
tools that we will need and a bag of spare parts and repair kits just in case.
We always recommend the prudent approach. If you have a
preexisting physical condition that you are unsure of with respect to this type of
activity, check with your doctor. Please realize that this activity is designed to take
you into the wilderness. This means that you will be hours away from professional medical
care. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have questions about a physical condition.
...you'll wonder why you waited
We also recommend that you embark on a physical
conditioning program if you are not on one already. We can design easy treks that
most people can handle, but if you are a couch potato, it won't be as much fun as it could
be. If you don't get any exercise, now is an excellent time to start. It will improve your
entire life... you'll wonder why you waited so long. And like most other things,
exercise is a habit and the only way to start it is to do it. There are many clients who
have taken this advice seriously and had the time of their lives on our expeditions.
Please allow six weeks for your body to adapt to a new level of exercise.
Age is not a factor in enjoying llama trekking.
We have had many persons in their 60's and 70's that had no difficulty at all. Attitude
and physical conditioning are the difference. We do make allowances for age (both young
and old) and physical shape in planning expeditions and you will not be over exerting
...think of exercise as an
investment in the quality of your life...
Your conditioning needs to emphasize the heart, the lungs
and the legs. All these muscles that will be used in llama trekking. Here are a
few types of exercise that are helpful.
Walking is an excellent form of exercise. If you
are a walker already, great. Now make sure you add some distance and add some hills, both
up and down. Walking on flat pavement does not strengthen the climbing muscles. Add enough
challenge so that the exercise is aerobic. If you have hiking trails accessible, take your
walks there. Try to find a trail that is not smooth. Get your heart and breathing muscles
working so they will be strengthened.
Stair climbing is a very good form of exercise.
If you work in a tall building, walk up a floor or two and ride the elevator the rest of
the way. Don't over do it and build your strength gradually. Again, the trick is to get
your pulse and respiratory rates up.
Riding a bicycle is also great. Find a road with
some hills and pedal away. Just make sure you don't over do it but make sure you keep
adding a challenge. In my backpacking days, I rode a bike up a thousand foot climb in four
miles as fast as I could for six weeks before a trek. Each time got a little shorter and
when I carried the 45 pound pack up a steep trail, I appreciated the training because I
also did it a couple of times without the conditioning and paid the price.
Any form of exercise is better than none. Think of it as an
investment in the quality of your life.
A word to the wise.
Take into consideration that at 10,000 feet
altitude, the oxygen in your blood is approximately 85% of the value at sea level. This
means that to fuel your muscles, your heart and lungs are going to have to compensate by
working harder. No wonder that hiking at altitude burns nearly twice the calories as at
sea level to do the same exercise.
If you live near sea level (<5000 ft.) and in a part of the
country that is flat, hiking or walking there is not the same as hiking at altitude. Get
into shape before you leave home. If you skimp here, you will work harder on your trek and
have less fun. The two gentlemen in the picture in the weather section (above) took this
advice seriously and had the time of their lives. They left Indiana on Thursday morning,
camped at 11,800 ft. on Friday afternoon and hiked to the top of Wheeler Peak (13,161 ft.)
on Saturday and they smiled the whole way. They are also pictured on the Family Album Page.