By Lone_Star on 8/1/2014
Distance: 3.40 Miles Duration: 2 hours, 22 minutes
The Jasper-Agate Loop is a lollipop-shaped trail that starts/ends at the trailhead off Hwy 64. I went in a counterclockwise direction. I hiked uphill for 1.9 miles, leveled off briefly, then up some more before hitting the summit at 2.1 miles. The trail is marked by cairns in the riverbed (a bad idea since water flow will erode them away) and red diamond blazes on the trees. However, blazes are not posted consistently causing me to get lost several times and forcing me to search for them. I do not recommend hiking this trail without a printed trail map. I am an experienced hiker and if I would have tried to hike this trail relying solely on trail markers, I would have got lost.
This hike also taught me a lesson in humility. I did not take a full pack of the ten essentials, thinking this would be a quick and simple hike. I only took my GPS, camera and 1 12 oz. water bottle. When I started this hike, the weather was nice (sunny with blue skies), but 1/3rd into my hike the blue skies disappeared as clouds quickly moved in. Halfway into my hike, it rained so hard I had to stop and seek shelter under a tree. Once the rainfall lightened up a bit, I continued on but at the summit a THICK cloud moved in and visibility went to almost zero as it became dark (from the lack of sunlight that could not get through) and cold. It was raining so hard that I could not see through my glasses and I could not find the trail blazes. I decided to wait it out, but after about 15 minutes it became clear to me that it was not going to get better any time soon. It was 6pm mountain time and I was running out of daylight, so I decided to rely on my ex-military land navigation skills and the soaked printed map to get off of the mountain. I had to be careful not to twist an ankle or knee because the moss and lichen covered rocks were wet and slippery. Furthermore, you descend down a creek bed so it was wet as the water run off built up from the rain. The temperature dropped to 55 degrees F and I felt the early stages of hypothermia setting in from being soaked to the bone and cold. As an experienced hiker who knows better, I was extremely humbled by this eye-opening experience. It reminded me that you should ALWAYS be prepared and not to take shortcuts to reduce your pack weight to make your hike easier. It also became clear to me that I was no longer in Texas and that, like Colorado, the weather in northern New Mexico can change VERY quickly!