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Postby JBella » Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:29 pm


If you know this area and hiked the trail last Summer you may be aware that an extensive project to remove trees was undertaken along the section of the Williams Lake Trail leading to the Wilderness boundary from where the trail exits the ski area. This project is within the municipality of the Village of Taos Ski Valley and is accompanied by the newly-built trail on the west side of the Lake Fork of the Rio Hondo which is to become the new Williams Lake Trail. The Carson National Forest said the reason for removing the trees along the Historic Route is reducing wildfire danger. This area is on private land which may be developed with private residences in the future, which many of us have known about but which many people who recreate in this area do not know. I am posting this message to inform any trail users that the developers of this area have left several unmarked metal posts along with yellow rope lines tied between these posts and between trees, which are now partially to mostly buried with snow, and anyone using the Williams Lake Trail as an ingress/egress route for skiing or snowboarding into and out of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness and Carson National Forest who isn't aware of these unmarked hazards could potentially be at risk of injury should they unknowingly get caught by the ropes and/or metal posts because they are now close to or beneath the snow surface and are not readily visible.

Yesterday when we were riding out from the Wilderness it was late in the day and getting dark, due to lack of signage and clarity as to where the actual trail is we ended up crossing through one area where these hazards exist and where several other skiers and riders had traveled before us. There are currently no signs posted or any fences, barriers or gates in accordance with New Mexico Statute 30-14-6 to notify people and prevent trespass where the private property is, or any markers to define where the old Williams Lake Trail crosses by this property or where the path of the temporary reroute which was used last Summer currently is, because of this skiers and riders are following the natural fall line directly to where several of these man-made hazards exist, and in all respects it appears that this area is a continuation of Public Lands.

Even for those of us who are aware of these obstacles, as conditions change with every snowfall they are not easy to recognize. Earlier this season on December 12th my board caught on a rope which was tied between two trees about 3 feet from the Williams Lake trail, knee-height above the ground and a few inches above the snow. I did not see it and it took me down, luckily I landed between trees and not on any stumps or rocks. I cut that rope off of the trees and tossed it in the trash by the Phoenix, also I removed several metal posts that were hastily left jutting out along the trail itself and left them in safe areas along the development area, but many more are still present one of which I was unable to move so I did what I could and tied a neon pink ribbon to the top. I don't want anyone to get hurt due to someone else's negligence (or for any reason really), and it is my own opinion that the developers of this area who left these hazards should have understood that this is a heavily used area during the Winter and taken adequate precautions to make sure their posts and ropes were not left unmarked in a way which would create a danger for Public Land users along this Historic Route. As this area is within the Village of Taos Ski Valley but no signs are posted, I do not know if it is the responsibility of the Village of TSV, or whomever may own specific plots of land in this area.

Regardless of who's negligence caused these hazards to exist now, please be aware they are there and be cautious while travelling through this zone.

The video was taken on January 14th, it begins close to where the actual Williams Lake Trail makes a sharp left turn which is not readily apparent while travelling downhill on skis, it's easy to miss the trail and end up surrounded by these hazards;

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