Guadalupe National Park, TX

Trip Start Mar 26, 2006
Trip End Oct 20, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Monday, April 3, 2006

I awoke before sunrise this morning and in a few minutes could see the red hue of the rising sun on the side of the tent, so I unzipped the door a bit to see the yucca and cactus all lit up and the sand beaming.

It has been a great three days, hiking in the morning, then reading, meditating, and fixing dinner before bed. We checked out Frijole Ranch - a homestead situated next to a spring that was a well known oasis to settlers coming west. I found myself getting caught up in the romantic idea of living here in the middle of the desert, farming the land, and tending orchards of apples, pears, citrus, and plumbs.

Two days ago we hiked McKittrick Canyon and yesterday took on Guadalupe Peak (8,749'), the highest point in Texas. Ranger Todd's first U.S. state high point!

Ironically, we met several other groups of people here visiting from Boulder. Cheryl Crosby, a longtime Boulder Shambhala Center member and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche student, had just returned from overseas. We also met Chris Reeves, who was at the top of the mountain with us.

We saw quite a bit of wildlife here - lots of red tailed hawks playing in the wind (which there's a lot of!) and swallows, desert rats that munched noisily on the vegetation, and lizards skittering around everywhere. We spotted a large spiny crevice lizard on one of our hikes, and I almost stepped on a black and white two-foot-long striped whiptail snake that made me jump off the trail even though they're completely harmless. Todd thought this was pretty funny, and I'm waiting for him to have his turn!

It's hard to imagine this entire desert expanse covered by an enormous sea 250 million years ago. Sponges, algae, and other tiny creatures died, and their exoskeletons remained, creating the reef which was later uplifted exposing the horizontal layers of limestone in the mountainside.

Today we're on our way west through the Chihuahuan Desert to El Paso and then north to White Sands National Monument.

This arid, beautiful land of sand, quiet, and big skies has a way of gently quieting the mind.
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