Thursday, April 30, 2015

Guadalupe Peak (TX): 4/30/2015

Mileage: 8.35
Elevation gain: 3015'
Trails used: Guadalupe Peak Trail.

This hike was on my bucket list for the year and since I had not been home to Texas in quite some time, it was a perfect time to try and attempt this peak.  I booked my flights a few months ago, so all that was left was to plan this trip as we would have to do this as an overnight.  Looking online, the closest place to stay (other than at the campground) was staying in Whites City, New Mexico which is about 30 miles from the Guadalupe Mountains National Park area.  We would leave on Wednesday, stay the night and then hike on Thursday.  Joining me for this hike would be my brother Tim, his wife Melinda and Melinda's sister, Rita.

Guadalupe Peak is located in Culberson County, Texas and in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  It is a part of the Guadalupe Mountain range that extends from Texas into New Mexico and is the highest point in Texas.  The highest point on the summit is marked with a stainless steel pyramid placed in 1958 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Butterfield Overland Stage.

The Guadalupe Peak Trail is a almost never ending series of switchbacks and the first roughly mile and a half is steep.  For more information as well as a rough map of the hike, go here.

The view of the Guadalupe Mountain National Park area from my brothers car as we were driving from Whites City, New Mexico to start the hike.

The view from the Pine Springs Campground and Visitor Center.  Guadalupe Peak is poking up from behind its eastern ridge and El Capitan is to the left.

The next few pictures were taken from Guadalupe Mountains National Park Visitor Center, where we had to pay an entrance fee of 5.00 each.  Inside the Visitor Center was a lot of information on the history of the Guadalupe Mountains and a gift shop.  Around the outside, there were various tree's native to the region so I walked around and took pictures of most of them. 

One Seeded Juniper. 

Oak Mistletoe.

Texas Madrone.

Gray Oak.

 Mountain Mahogany.

Big Bend Silverleaf.

Desert Willow.

A view of Hunter Peak (sixth highest peak in Texas) which is almost directly to the north of the Visitor Center.  This type of terrain is what most people view Texas as being.

Redberry Juniper.

Cane Cholla and Christmas Cactus.

Banana Yucca.

Another view of Hunter Peak, this time from the hiker parking lot area.  For a Thursday, there were quite a few people hiking and camping today.

Melinda at the start of the Guadalupe Peak (and several other trails) Trail.  

From this view, it was tough trying to figure out just how the Guadalupe Peak Trail goes up to the summit.

Melinda and Rita taking pictures as we climb the Guadalupe Peak Trail.  The dry river bed is part of Pine Spring Canyon.

The Guadalupe Peak Trail is steep to start albeit it mostly switchbacks. 

Looking back down to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Visitor Center and Pine Springs Campground area.  I could see my brothers car from up here.  The little cone like peak towards the top is called Nipple Hill.

Looking to the south from the Guadalupe Peak Trail.  I believe we could see all the way down to the Big Bend National Park area.

My brother Tim climbing up a cool wooden step section built into the ground and rock face on the Guadalupe Peak Trail.

Another cool section along the Guadalupe Peak Trail that made you feel like you were walking along a cliff with a drop off on the side.

Possibly Bush Mountain from the Guadalupe Peak.  

Part of the eastern ridge of Guadalupe Peak.  For awhile, I thought the Guadalupe Peak Trail might cross this two bumps but it goes to the left of them.

There were several shaded areas along the Guadalupe Peak Trail where we sat for a few out of the blinding sun and heat of the day, especially coming down.

Possibly a cardinal flower.  I am pretty bad with my flower species.

Views of Hunter Peak and the eastern ridge of Guadalupe Peak.  You can see the Guadalupe Trail on the right side of the picture.

Pretty much the only wildlife I saw today where this lizards.  Tim and Melinda did see a rattlesnake when they were down at the bottom near the trail head.

Every so often I would look back towards where we came from as we started to gain elevation along the Guadalupe Peak Trail.  

Some other wildflowers.  If anyone knows what they are, do tell.

Like most tall mountains, the actual summit is usually the third or fourth summit (or false summits as they are called).  This is Guadalupe Peak dead center making an appearance.

An almost level section of the Guadalupe Peak Trail just before Guadalupe Canyon.

Finally, the summit of Guadalupe Peak comes into full view.  Its still about 700 feet of elevation gain from here to reach the summit.

This is the only bridge along the Guadalupe Peak Trail and it crosses Guadalupe Canyon.

Initially on my way up to Guadalupe Peak, I didn't get too close to take a better picture of Guadalupe Canyon as it goes straight down.

Looking west into Bone Canyon from the Guadalupe Peak Trail.

El Capitan starts to come into view.  It is the southernmost peak along the Guadalupe Mountains and is an ancient limestone reef.  It has cliffs on three sides and is rarely climbed because of the poor condition of the rock.

The last stretch of the Guadalupe Peak Trail as it winds its way up to the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

This stainless steel marker was placed here by American Airlines, which has a logo on one side.  The other two sides have a U.S. Postal Service and Boy Scouts of America logo.

The summit register for Guadalupe Peak (elevation 8749') is held in this metal ammo box.  This register was from the beginning of March and had a few pages left for April.  It just goes to show how popular this peak is.

My Guadalupe Peak summit selfie.  Rita is sitting beside me as she made it to the summit a few minutes after me.  You can see the U.S. Postal Service logo on this side.

Another Guadalupe Peak summit selfie with the steel marker.  

A view of El Capitan from the summit of Guadalupe Peak and looking south into Texas.

The Salt Basin Dunes to the south southwest of Guadalupe Peak.

Wind Mountain, Chattfield Mountain, Washburn Mountain and San Antonio Mountain on the New Mexico-Texas border from the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Shumard Peak and Bush Mountain to the northwest of Guadalupe Peak.

Cellphone panorama looking north from the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Cellphone panorama looking south from the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Heading back down the Guadalupe Peak Trail, another view of Hunter Peak and the Guadalupe Peak camp site (on the right, with the trail visible).

A better view of Guadalupe Canyon and as you can see, a fall here would be bad.

Looking towards where the Guadalupe Peak camp site is located.  It sits at roughly 8000 feet so its still about 2200 feet from the bottom to here and roughly still about a mile to reach the summit of Guadalupe Peak.

Another view of the Hunter Peak area.  You can see the Tejas Trail as it climbs to meet the Bush Mountain Trail.

The descent down to the parking area is just as strenuous as the hike up to Guadalupe Peak.  Its still about 2000 feet down from here.

One final picture of the RV and hiker parking area and Hunter Peak.

What can I say?  This was a picture perfect day to do this hike as there was zero precipitation and it was a comfortable 80+ degrees with a nice breeze.  It was almost seven hours round trip and both Rita and I managed to make it to the summit.  Tim made it just shy of 8000 feet and Melinda was about 7000 feet up.  Not too shabby for non-hikers (or hardcore ones like myself).  

If you get the chance to do this hike, you will not be disappointed.  The Guadalupe Peak Trail is switchback heaven so it breaks the steepness up into more manageable sections.  The only thing I would caution is to bring lots of water.  I brought three liters and I finished almost 90% of it by the time I was down (and I don't usually drink enough water). Otherwise, have fun and enjoy this one.