This Park was a bonus

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Texas
Thursday, November 17, 2011

   We had not heard of Guadalupe Mountains National Park before but when we saw how close it was to the Carlsbad Caverns we decided to go to it. I told Cissie we were planning to go there and she said her and Mike had been there on one of their trips in the Southwest. She has a great memory for hiking trails and interesting facts so filled me in on some of the Park highlights before we got there.
   It was dusk when we pulled into the Campground which is actually a large parking lot with lines marked for camping spots. We knew there were not hookups but there were some picnic tables and it was adjacent to the trailhead so was certainly adequate. I think there were 8-10 campers in and out the two days so not too crowded. There were also restrooms and I think showers for those that needed them. There was a great view of the mountains out the window and we had gotten a map of the hiking trails so we were set.
   Guadalupe Peak is the highest peak in Texas at 8749'. The trail to it was 8.4 miles with a 3,000' elevation gain. The miles we could handle but was not sure about that much elevation gain. I think the most we did last year in one hike was about 2,000'. I also wasn't sure if there would be cliffs but knew there was a good chance. Rather than ask someone for further details, we agreed that we would hike it as far or as long as we wanted and come back down from that point even if we were not at the Peak. It was a perfectly clear day so knew we would get some great views along the way. Well, we hiked 1.3 miles with an elevation gain of 1200' - that's a lot of steps and they were big steps for my short legs! We stopped for a rest at one point and debated about going back down but knew it had to level off somewhat as we had already covered a third of the elevation gain in the first mile so we decided to go a bit further. Well, very shortly after that we came to the sign warning of a cliff and that did it for me. Wayne did get a picture for me of the pretty yellow bush that was just past the sign and the prettiest we saw in the Park.
   We hiked back down, took another leg of the Guadalupe Trail and it connected to the Devil's Hall Trail which was spectacular. It was rated moderate, involved some climbing over rocks but had no cliffs! We found a great spot for lunch and marveled at the number of birds that were in the trees. We later asked the Ranger at the Visitor Center what they were and think we saw red-breasted nuthatches. We visited with a couple from Wyoming, another couple from Carlsbad (I praised them for enjoying what they have in their own backyard!) and a couple from Europe but we didn't get the country.
   The following morning we hiked 5 miles of the El Capitan Trail and still got back for lunch and time to pack up the camper. It was great weather again and a clear view of El Capitan from the front of it.
   We had sorted clothes and planned to do laundry and fill gas in Carlsbad but decided to find an RV Park for the night that had laundry facilities. It was a good decision since we got to Alamogordo at dusk and would have been driving through the Lincoln National Forest in the dark which would not have been fun. It was mountainous and very pretty so we would have missed the scenery also.
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