Since returning to Texas, I’ve been dying to find some hikes. Definitely in the Dallas area there is no hiking that even starts to compare to anything in the Lower Mainland. I don’t think you can get over 500 ft (150m) anywhere within a 5 hour drive. So I hatched a plan to do the highest point in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, sitting at 8,751 ft (2,667m).
I somehow managed to convince my dad that it would be a fun father-son bonding experience, even though he hates hiking and being hot. So the two of us set out on a seven hour drive across Texas after work on Friday. Dad’s one condition though was that he would not stay in a tent; we needed a hotel. Well it turns out the closest hotel to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, where the peak is, is actually at the mouth of another National Park, Carlsbad Cavern, which is actually in New Mexico! So we crossed out of Texas and into NM to stay in a little motel.
The next day we got up early, quickly prepared for the hike (although Dad prepared a lot more than I did; he even shaved while I just threw on my hiking clothes!), and then headed out. It was about 30 minutes from our motel to the trail head in GMNP. Along the way, there was absolutely nothing! No places to get breakfast or anything, but luckily we had some continental breakfast at the motel although they technically weren’t open.
Anyways we finally got to the trail head around 7:30 (although it’s actually unclear what timezone we were in…) and began the hike! Guadalupe Peak really is in the middle of a desert so it was pretty hot and strenuous even at that time. The first mile and a half was a really steep climb with tons of switchbacks. It was weird though because you don’t feel like you’re going up that much but just looking back after a short ways shows how far you’ve come from the parking lot! The views were already getting dramatic and breathtaking but we were already sweaty and tired and I think Dad might have given up.
(Note that I didn’t bring my DSLR so all the photos are just crappy iPhone pics 🙂 )
Luckily, the second mile and a half was through a pine forest on the north facing slope of the mountain. The pine trees added some shade and, as we were already up a bit higher, some breezes helped cool us down. This was probably the nicest section of hiking. It wasn’t too steep either.
At about the three mile point, there was a false summit. Luckily I had read about it beforehand and was able to warn Dad before he got his hopes up. After this false summit we briefly went down and then started on the final ascent to reach the top of Texas! It was another mile and a half from there but it seemed to go quicker with the end in sight. We finally reached the top just before noon and rewarded ourselves with peanut butter and banana sandwiches. While we were there we encountered a military man who had passed us on the way up. He did the whole way without any water, so we offered him some but he refused. He was training. He literally hiked 9 miles round trip without any water in the desert. So yeah that kind of took the wind out of our sails.
From the top though it was absolutely breathtaking. You could see for miles in every direction. You could see salt flats or farms or the rest of the Guadalupes from up there. There’s also some monument to American Airlines and the Postal Service? I wasn’t super sure what it was about though…
After a fair amount of time celebrating our achievement at the peak, we started back down. Going down was rough! We were already tired and hot but now there wasn’t the promise of a peak to motivate me. We didn’t have to break as much to catch our breath going down though so we made pretty good time. There were a few people going up that we crossed paths with and Dad tried to talk them out of going forward because he’s a negative Nelly like that.
We finally got all the way down by like 1:30pm. All in all it took us 6 hours. There wasn’t much else to do in the park and no where to get some cool drinks so I just started driving. We stopped for some gatorades back in Carlsbad and then just drove the 7 hours back home. It was definitely a worthwhile trip and I’m glad I can say I’ve conquered Texas! And I think it’s relieved my hiking itch for now 😉