After dropping Ally off at work (so sad she works Saturdays, especially when it's an absolutely gorgeous morning!), I took off up Artist/Hyde Park/Ski Basin Road to the Santa Fe Ski Area. Many of the hikes into the Pecos Wilderness start here at the Winsor Trail. We are waiting to do some of the longer ones until the monsoon season is over, so I figured a moderate hike that I could finish before 2pm or so would be perfect. Although Nambe Lake is only 7 miles round trip, it is a challenge nonetheless!
Before reaching the boundary fence, the Winsor Trail is all uphill. After passing through the fence, the trail continues to go downhill gradually until you turn off the Winsor Trail and right onto the Nambe Lake Trail (Trail #400). The fact that this section of the hike was all downhill could partly explain why I enjoy Winsor Trail so much. However, I think it had more to do with the fresh air, solitude, and sun coming up and shining through the aspens. I was feeling quite energized by the time I reached the Nambe Lake Trail (and good thing, because it was tough!)
When I came to what felt like the top (not even close), I saw several tents in this lovely meadow. I got distracted by the people and ended up veering off the trail. To stay on the trail, I should have crossed over the creek right when I saw the meadow. There is a clear trail across the creek that heads away from the meadow (the trail takes off to the left when coming up the creek).
The hike continues along the meadow and I recall this being a very brief reprieve from the constant uphill. Don't worry....it continued soon after. If I thought the climbing was bad on that first section near the creek, it wasn't. It got more challenging as I got closer to the lake. Also, I had to cross the creek again. Thankfully, people had these rock piles out to direct hikers. I would've felt a bit confused if I hadn't seen the rocks.
Continuing up the trail, the trees began to open up on my left. There was a large area of scree/talus rocks (basically a landslide). At this point, I was very close to the lake. When I got to the lake, no one was there. Unfortunately, as soon as I sat down to enjoy my incredible view and a small lunch, a family with five kids and two dogs appeared. I'm very supportive of taking kids (and dogs I suppose) out into the wilderness, but they were yelling (kids) and barking (dogs) so it did take away from the lovely moment I was having.
I couldn't get enough of the reflections on the lake. Here's where I got irritated with the dogs....they were out swimming in the lake and totally ruined the reflections (not to mention they came up and got me all muddy).
Getting down the Nambe Lake Trail was a little rough on my knees, but not as bad as I thought it would be. And neither was the slight uphill hike on the Winsor Trail. I was just feeling so good, I barely noticed the uphill! And look at how marvelous the aspens were in the afternoon sunshine! (There was a storm coming up behind me, but you can't tell from these pictures.)