El Paseo LLama knows the way to the best campsites in these mountains.

SUNNY NEW MEXICO

This page has important information that you will need to know before you leave home for your adventure. We will cover :


OUR WEATHER

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 needed.

  • 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 conditioned...naturally".
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 have everything.
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 species here.
  • Swarms of biting insects: There are some flies but they rarely bite.
  • Lyme Disease: No deer ticks means no Lyme disease.
  • 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.

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On the East Fork trail going to Wheeler Peak

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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 trek.

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 COTTON!!!

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 best.

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 ITEM!

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 blue-blockers… 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 proof. A MUST HAVE ITEM!

· Day 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.


The view is as pristine as the campsite.

A wonderful place to camp at 10,800 ft.

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THE GEAR WE USE

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.

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PHYSICAL CONDITIONING

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 info@elpaseollama.com if you have questions about a physical condition.

...you'll wonder why you waited so long...

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 yourself.

...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.

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Email:info@elpaseollama.com