By 8 a.m. the next morning, I was on my way to the Taos Ski Valley for my final hike of the term. My class was going to climb up part of the entire 13,000-foot mountain area to see the beautiful glacier-made lake! Dr. Ubelaker had been discussing this trip for a while. As is custom before we begin any hike, he urged us to drink plenty of water and to ask for time to rest. I knew that this was going to be our hardest hike yet. But, it was still exciting for us to be able to see the lake!
We started off very slow, taking our time. Dr. Ubelaker identified some plants along the way, like the geranium and a species of wild mustard. Along the hike, I ran into some other hikers who were very friendly and just as excited as I was to see the lake. They greeted me and asked where my classmates and I were from.
The best part about hiking in New Mexico is running into these friendly strangers and seeing the age difference in all of them. I noticed a family of four, with the father holding his young daughter who wasn’t even a year old. I also met a very cute elderly couple moving very quickly past my group to get to the lake. They may have even been going all the way to the top to Wheeler Peak. Seeing all the people just encouraged me to go further, even though I was getting more and more tired.
Halfway toward my destination, Dr. Ubelaker stopped to show us a grey bird in one of the trees above us. He lifted out a pretzel toward the bird to get its attention. It took a little too long, but as we were continuing our hike, the bird flew down to pick up a piece of the snack off the ground.
Not too long afterward, I had reached Williams Lake! It was a deep valley, surrounded by tall fir trees and rocky cliffs all around. An amazing view! I had to take a picture by the sign to make it official because I couldn’t believe I had climbed over 11,000 feet! I felt so accomplished! Dr. Ubelaker then took us to the waterfall a few hundred feet east of the lake, which was even more beautiful. It’s so crazy to see the beautiful things that are hidden in the area.
Williams Lake was probably the best trip my class has taken. With that checked off my list, I was ready for Santa Fe!