Guadalupe Peak Trail. 8.4 miles roundtrip, 3000 feet of elevation gain.
Pictured below: El Capitan and Guadalupe Peak.
The girls and I were able to stay at the beautiful Hotel El Capitan before and after climbing Guadalupe Peak. If you're in the area, we highly recommend spending a night or two here. It's a lovely establishment.
We arrived at the trailhead just after sunrise. It was a cool morning; clouds covered the sun during most of our ascent.
Guadalupe Peak is located within the Chihuahuan Desert, so the conditions are normally dry, fairly hot, and..well..desert-like.
The first section of the trail is the steepest. A series of switchbacks leads the hiker up up up; views of the surrounding desert are phenomenal. The lack of tall vegetation also allows one to continually see the parking lot until the trail crests this section and enters a small forest.
There are two very short portions of the Guadalupe Peak Trail that require walking next to a steep drop-off. One of these portions is pictured below:
The trail eventually leads the hiker into the trees.
Here's the other portion of the trail with a steep drop-off....
The only bridge on the trail, which crosses a chasm. We're now less than a mile from the summit.
Ascending the summit cone...
The girls with the top of El Capitan behind them...
On the top of Texas!
Close-up of El Capitan (picture taken by Sage).
Close-up of the roads below (picture taken by Alex).
Views from the top of Texas...
The girls being goofy...
We lounged about for 45 minutes, appreciating the views. We chatted with other hikers and enjoyed a conversation with a volunteer ranger who had passed us on the trail. The weather was perfect, it was perhaps 80 degrees on the summit.
Eventually, we decided to descend.
We saw quite a few of these today...
Back at the trailhead!
The girls checked out the nearby Visitor's Center after the hike.
Comments and observations:
We made it up in 3.5 hours with Sage setting the pace. We passed a large group and, with the exception of the ranger, were the first to arrive on the summit. We weren't trying to rush, as there were no thunderstorms in the forecast. The girls continue to naturally get faster and stronger, and I REALLY need to get in shape or they will leave me in the dust within a year or two.
Water -- this is a dry peak. I took my large pack and filled it with jugs of water. We ended up with far more than we needed and I was able to give some to hikers who arrived on the summit with barely any liquids left for their descent. I highly recommend bringing more water than you think you'll need for this peak. There are no water crossings and this is a desert environment.
Mountain lions -- they are in Guadalupe Peak National Park, but the volunteer ranger said he has never seen one on this particular trail. Still, I hiked with a hunting knife, kept the girls close, and kept looking behind me all the way up and down the trail. I'm not sure that knife would have done any good if a mountain lion had actually showed up, but it made me feel better nonetheless.
Rattlesnakes and tarantulas -- a hiker is likely to see one of these, so be careful where you step and sit. Unfortunately, we didn't see any specimens of either species, much to our simultaneous relief and disappointment.
Next stop: Arizona.
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