What a beautiful day to do this! Got started around 9:00 AM, still feeling the effects from yesterday’s El Capitan/Salt Basin 12 miler, so keeping it pretty slow. It’s amazing how far you had to hike to be out of site of “home”.
I’d been hiking about an hour when a young woman overtook and passed me with a breezy “See you at the top!”, which helped me quite a bit as I wasn’t sure at that point (or any point until I set foot there!) that I was going to make it. She was the first of two young ladies that were to pass me.
The Park Service pamphlet included all the possible hikes from the Pine Springs camping area. The description of this hike was: “Guadalupe Peak – Strenuous 8.4 miles round trip; 3,000-foot elevation gain. Spectacular views reward those who reach the summit of 8,749-foot Guadalupe Peak, the highest in Texas.”
Right out of the campground I was going up. I was told by Gary, a young man we met a couple of days ago at the Devil’s Hall trek, who had done the peak ascent the day before, that I would not be able to see the peak until I was pretty close to it –and that proved to be all to true.
Not too far into the hike I came across a sign that said “No Stock beyond this Point” which meant to me that the terrain was probably going to get more difficult so horses had to turn back. The footing did get a little more difficult, but “No Stock” wasn’t true as there a lot of “Dismount and lead” signs deeper into the hike.
The scenery was over the top, with every turn bringing incredible new vistas, which helped me to keep my mind off the discomfort my body was broadcasting and encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
To give an idea of how muddled my mind was, at one point I decided to break and check by map app to see if I could determine how far I had to go. While fiddling with my smart phone, a ranger came down the trail and asked how I was doing. I told him I was trying to find how far I had to go and he told me he would estimate about a mile and a half to the peak. I asked about how the ladies room came out after last night’s flood and he didn’t know what I was talking about so I told him the whole story about getting back from El Capitan hike and Linda going to use the facility and finding it seriously flooding. I further relayed that we were unable to locate any number to call so I left a message at the visitors center and then reported the situation via 911 – with apologies to the dispatcher for the nature of the emergency I was reporting. My new Ranger friend had heard nothing about it, but agreed that having some sort of “non life threatening” emergency number on the message board made sense and he thanked me for the suggestion. He then said good bye and started to walk on. I got my pack back on and started to follow him, marveling at how fresh my legs felt after such a short break. The Ranger wasn’t that far ahead, so I called out to him, asking if I was going the right way – “You going up or coming down?” he asked. I told him I was going up, and he good naturedly told me I needed to go the other way – my legs felt good because I was going down!
Shortly after meeting the Ranger, I came to the Guadalupe Camp for tenting and it occurred to me that it might be fun to do this as a 2 or 3 day jaunt – making it to the camp, pitching tent, getting a good night sleep, then walking up to the peak the next morning – a thought for the future!
I was overtaken by another young woman, while I broke for lunch just a couple of hundred yards from the top – right near where horses would be tied, for those who got to ride up. Her name was Chelsea and she had taken a wrong turn a couple of switchbacks below the peak and scared herself with the terrain she had to clamber over to get to the top. Told her I’d see her up there after I finished lunch. Later I found out that she had left at 11:30 AM – 2.5 hours later than I had and she still summit-ted 10 minutes before me! I guess at my age, I just need to be grateful that I can do this stuff at all.
Chelsea asked if it would be OK to follow me back down as she was concerned about the footing and precipitous drop offs. I was glad for the company, as coming down was pretty painful in the knees, hips and back and our conversation kept my mind off those discomforts. Her camera had run out of power so I took a summit photo and emailed it to her – she took the one of me at the summit – so it turned out we were able to help each other pretty well!
I highly recommend this hike to anyone-it’s a terrific experience!