Sunday, August 22, 2021

Devils Hall at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

(Above:  Me at the end of Devils Hall trail.  Click on any image to enlarge.)

Recent monsoon rains sent rocks and even boulders down the canyon that doubles as the last mile of Devils Hall trail here in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  The trail is now rated as "strenuous" because "scrambling" is required.  What's "scrambling"?  Just what comes to mind!  I had to use both hands to pull myself up and over the boulders. The park's hiking brochure says that two-and-half to three hours is needed for the 4.2 round trip, but that was when the trail was rated "moderate".  It took me nearly four hours ... but ... I made it!  It was SO WORTH IT!


(Above:  Daylight coming over the trail.)

So ... let me share the experience!  Because I'm intentionally staying on Eastern Standard Time, I am easily able to get out of bed before dawn and hit the trails very early.  This provides several advantages.  First, I am always the only one there.  Second, the lighting is fabulous. Third, and most importantly, it isn't that hot.  Western Texas in August is otherwise HOT, HOT, HOT.  The first mile of Devils Hall Trail is through a landscape of brush, cactus, and the occasional tree.  I hardly noticed the upward slope because I was watching the sunlight hit the mountain tops.

(Above:  The trail sign reading:  Devils Hall Follow Wash.)

After a little over a mile, I came to the expected sign:  Devils Hall Follows Wash.  The wash is the mountain crevice of gravel, rocks, and boulders that get "washed" down the mountain when it rains so hard that the parched earth can't absorb it fast enough.  Recently, the rains sent lots more stone down the wash. From here, hikers just "scramble" up the wash.

 (Above:  The start of the trail-in-the-wash.)

From the sign, I looked up the wash.  It didn't look too strenuous.  Quickly, I learned that it is more difficult than it looked.  Gravel and small rocks tend to move underfoot ... a lot!

Boulders are, in a sense, easier to handle ... as long as one uses both hands! LOL!  I went slowly and carefully, scrambling up the next mile. 

(Above: Devils Staircase.)
Devils Staircase was SO WORTH IT!  I sat right down, drank some water, and just admired the view for several minutes.  Thankfully, a young dentist from Oregon arrived then.  We snapped photos of one another.
(Above:  Me in front of Devils Staircase.  Photo by a nice, young dentist from Oregon.)
The dentist, twenty-five years younger than me, went on ahead and then passed me on his return.  I took it easy.  After all, the way over this "staircase" meant sidling the widest ledge to the next area that leads to Devils Hall. 

(Above:  A pool of water just beyond Devils Staircase.)
The layers of rock, the texture of stone, and the undulating strata representing centuries from millions of years ago was overwhelmingly magnificent.  Beyond the pool of water, the trail turns to the right ...

  .... where even the floor is exotic!

(Above:  The trail or "floor" in the Devils Hall area.)

One more turn ...

... and the view is down through Devils Hall.  I took dozens of detail photos.  It felt like walking through a magical kingdom.  I have no idea why "devil" is part of name for this breath-taking place.  To me, it seemed straight from heaven!  I thought about all the prehistoric life that once lived in this shallow, inland sea.  There are plenty of fossils in this park.  I know I must have been looking at some of them.  I just don't recognize them.

(Above:  Detail of one of the stones on the trail.)

I am pretty sure that this one isn't a duck fossil! LOL!

(Above:  Detail of Devils Hall.)

I sat at the end of the trail just to admire the world around me.  The selfie I took (first photo in this blog post) was from there.  Then, it was time to turn around and "scramble" back down the trail. 

By the time I returned to the trailhead parking lot, it was over 80 degrees and groups of people were just starting out.  I'm glad I went early.  I felt one with nature.  It was a great day!


Margaret said...

Looking at all those textures in the rocks (having been comforted that you survived the climb and the return!), I'm thinking you have the Mother Lode of inspiration for ongoing art pieces -- and you're only just beginning your stay!

Catherine - Mixed Media Artist said...

I can imagine being on the trail early was most magic than having crowds of people all around you - able to get that photo without having to wait for "people clearance" - I wonder why the uyoung man was in a such a rush, did he find what he was looking for, was he on some sort of race to beat the timing proposed by the park ... we will never know, I guess. Love the different colours and composure of the rock formations

Christine said...

Oh! Wow!
What an amazing place! I bet it was so quiet and smelt of old rock dust.... just trying to imagine being there as I look at your (enlarged) photos
Thank you so much.

Ann Scott said...

You've shared really wonderful photos, thank you. I can imagine the scent and quiet in the air. I'm glad you managed that wash, it freaks me out!