Colin Barker - Hiking with Santa Fe Chilli

Hiking with The Santa Fe Chili and Marching Society

The group I occasionally hike with was founded by John Masters, a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the British Army in India. It’s called The Santa Fe Chili and Marching Society and in the past I’ve served as secretary. Winter hikes usually take us to more open areas that are warmer, while in the summer we go high and up into the shade of the pines and aspens. There is a different hike leader each week and they select the trail and provide snacks at the end.

Typical hikes are five miles, give or take, and there might be as much as 1000 feet of elevation gain. In the winter months the required snack is chile — hence the group’s name. We are lucky that the Santa Fe area offers such a spectacular variety of scenery and a wide range of trails. Santa Fe itself is at 7000 ft., and some hikes take us as high as 11,500 ft. I have yet to climb a ‘fourteener’, but then there aren’t any in New Mexico. The best we can do is Mount Wheeler at 13,700 ft.