Monday, August 30, 2021

Guadalupe Peak! I made it!

(Above:  At sunrise along the Guadalupe Peak Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  I took two selfies: one with the "bright" light and one with the "red"/night vision.  I actually used the bright, white light for hiking, but the other photo turned out better! Click on any image to enlarge.)

I made it!  Guadalupe Peak stands at 8751' and is the highest elevation in the entire state of Texas.  The trailhead starts at around 5500' and climbs over a diverse landscape.  I think the only way I managed this was by starting at 5:30 AM, an hour before dawn.  Fortunately, I happened to have the right, lighted head gear in my cargo van.  Why?  Well, it came on a table lot from Bill Mishoe's auction.  (I don't remember what I wanted on that table lot ... certainly not the headlamp ... but it was among the other stuff I got!)  Knowing that I'd otherwise forget having the thing when I might use it, I stuck it in the van's glove compartment so that it would be ready wherever I might be.  What luck!  It really seems like divine intervention!  Why start so early?  Well, August afternoons in Texas are HOT, HOT, HOT.  It is better to start out early in order to complete the 6 - 8 hour hike before the temperatures are scorching.  (6 - 8 hours are listed on the National Park's day hike brochure.  I made it in seven hours and ten minutes including time on the summit.)

(Above:  Dawn along the Guadalupe Peak Trail.)

At least a half hour before dawn, one doesn't really need a headlamp, but for my first half hour, I couldn't have managed the steep rock steps or the loose gravel without one.  By dawn, I was already high enough to look back towards the parking lot, Visitor Center, and out over the oil fields of Texas.

(Above:  Guadalupe Peak Trail.)

Early morning light is amazing.   Shadows are long and the air is clear.  The trail winds up and around the mountain, across a canyon, and ...

(Above:  A view from Guadalupe Peak Trail to the Tejas Trail.)

... to views of other trails on other parts of the mountain chain.  It was great to look over and see the many switchbacks on the Tejas Trail.  Two days earlier, I hiked this trail.  It ascends to 8000' where it intersects with the Bowl Trail and the Bush Mountain Trail.  Not only have I hiked this trail, but I've hiked up to 8000' on the Bear Canyon Trail (on the opposite side of the mountain).  Each time, I've seen different views.  On one part of the Tejas Trail, I could look down into the canyon and see where Devils Staircase was located ... but not Devils Hall.  On the Guadalupe Peak Trail, I couldn't see the Staircase but had no problem picking out the crevice of the Hall.

(Above:  Guadalupe Peak from along the trail leading to it.)

The trail has plenty of switchbacks.  The path is mostly loose gravel on a hard surface.  Yet, there are areas of solid rock too. More than halfway up, the peak looms ahead.  There's a lot more trees in this higher elevation.

(Above:  One of the few, obvious, man-made parts of the trail.)

The trail is well defined and only has a few places that are obviously man-made conveniences.  Otherwise, hiking was very much over a natural setting. 

(Above:  View to the salt basin.)

As I neared the top, the view looks down on El Capitan, the 10th highest peak in Texas.  From the highway, this exposed mountain's cliff face has become an iconic image for area travelers and for the National Park.  It is part of the exposed, Permian Reef (think geologically ... 260 - 270 million year ago and then uplifted during the Cretaceous period).  Beyond is the salt basin ... and a view to where the park's sand dunes are located.  El Capitan seemed almost dwarfed from the high Guadalupe Peak Trail.  I could also see the Salt Basin Overlook Loop Trail which I hiked last week.  It, too, was "way down there".   

(Above:  Me on the top of Guadalupe Peak!)

Thankfully, there were a few other early hikers including a nice couple from Houston.  We took photos of one another with the summit marker.  From this point, the view was 360 degrees.  I brought plenty of water and sat down with some snacks.  Then, I hiked down.  Yes, the last two miles were in the open sun.  It was hot but I was happy to have made it up and back!

1 comment:

Ann Scott said...

That's awesome, congratulations! It looks like it was a gorgeous (even if toasty) day.
I'm really enjoying your photos, thank you for sharing. Take good care.