Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Guadalupe Mountain National Park are both in the Guadalupe Mountain Range. They are only about 30 minutes from each other, but Carlsbad Caverns National Park is in New Mexico and Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in Texas, and they are in different time zones. While we were staying in White’s City to visit Carlsbad Caverns, we decided to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park too.
Brian read that the most scenic trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the Guadalupe Peak summit trail. It climbs 3,000 feet in 4.2 miles from the trailhead to summit. The peak is 8,749 feet, which is the highest point in Texas. Sounded hard, but we are trying to do harder things so, sure, let’s try it.
Oh man, was it hard. When we got there, it was busy due to spring break and the parking lot closest to the trailhead was full. We parked at the visitor center, which added about a mile (round trip, bringing the total hike to roughly 9.4 miles).
As soon as we started, I could tell this hike wasn’t going to go well for me. I just didn’t feel good. I mean, I don’t expect climbing a mountain to feel ‘good’ exactly, but I’ve never struggled hiking like this before! Brian was feeling good though, and he was really looking forward to this hike, so I suffered through it. He was patient with my near constant need to take breaks, and we were passed by just about everyone on the mountain!
About 80% of the way up, I started feeling better. Which was a good thing, because the trail got harder at that point, and I’m not sure if I would’ve made it to the top otherwise. People on the way down were saying encouraging things. The most common was “the view is worth it!” And the view was beautiful. I’m not sure if I’d say it was ‘worth it’ given the trouble I had with the hike, but I’m glad I kept going and we made it to the top.
At the top there is a stainless steel pyramid monument, and a register to sign. We spent about an hour at the top, before we started to head back down.
Down is so much easier than up! The first half of the descent was the most enjoyable part of the hike. The weather had cooled off and we could enjoy the beautiful views and the sunset.
We did the second half of the descent in the dark, with headlamps. Brian noticed a scorpion on the trail, which was our first scorpion sighting (he was very excited). During the last part of the trail, Brian came up behind a girl that was descending the mountain with no flashlight! She had a walking stick, but it was a really dark moonless evening and I have no idea how she was managing without light. He walked behind her so she could benefit from his light too, but she didn’t turn around to acknowledge it. At the end of the trail she did thank him for his help. It was pretty weird.
It was a hard hike, but we made it to the top, and back down again!
Day 170 | Mile 17,522