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Old 06-28-2013, 09:10 AM   #1
txplants OP
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A long ride just to hike to the top of Texas...

But well worth it!

So I arrived at Guadalupe Mountains National Park Thursday afternoon, June 6th. Spent the previous night at South Llano Rive State Park, but didn’t even unpack my camera.



Here is my little oasis in the high desert campground.



Friday morning, 7:15 AM, with three liters of water and an assortment of quick energy food I hit the trailhead at the Pine Springs Campground, a short walk from my campsite. The trailhead starts at around 5600’ I think. About 8.4 miles round trip, so I plan to spend the day here.



Not a human in site; my only company is an occasional curious reptile and lots of birds.



At higher elevations forests of pine and spruce began to develop on the shadier and cooler north-facing slopes.



A reminder I am hiking up what used to be a reef many millions of years ago!



When you reach this short bridge, you are just about 45 minutes from the summit.



Looking down at the summit of El Capitan and the vastness of West Texas beyond.



A few more switchbacks and I reach the summit of Guadalupe Peak... the top of Texas!



I sign the ledger...



...pose for a selfie...



...and enjoy...



...the view from the top of Texas!



So, after about a half hour, I start down. More cool fossils; probably algae...



...and the ever present gastropods.



I thinks this is the trail to "The Bowl"...



...but that's my trail, and one can see the trailhead and campground way down below. I ran out of water about thirty minutes before I arrived.



No showers at Guadalupe Mountains NP, but since nobody was around I striped down to the waist and had a heck of a refreshing spritz at this dishwashing station.



Next morning I spend a long day in the saddle headed for San Antonio to stay with family, then on to Houston the following day. This is Farm to Market Road 652 from just northeast of the park to a little one horse town called Orla… it is the loneliest most desolate stretch of road I’ve ever seen in Texas.



Thanks for looking!
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Old 06-28-2013, 11:46 AM   #2
RobN.
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Nice report

Thanks for sharing it. Love west Texas, hope to get back out that way one day.
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Old 06-28-2013, 04:37 PM   #3
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Cool photos! I used to work at Guadalupe Mountains NP. It was nice to see the old stomping grounds.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:29 PM   #4
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Awesome photos! Thanks for sharing your ride here.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:47 PM   #5
Beezer Josh
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When I was a kid, we would go to Carlsbad Caverns. My dad always pointed out El Capitan and Guadalupe Mountains (he grew up in El Paso), but I never even thought about climbing it...until now. Thanks for the pics and the post. Much appreciated!
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:20 AM   #6
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Awesome! I hope to make it out there soon for a couple days of hiking.
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Old 06-30-2013, 03:25 AM   #7
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thanks for sharing.That view is awesome!
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Old 06-30-2013, 05:53 AM   #8
Jarrod Weaver
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I didn't know that Texas had such a high peak. Guess I will need to go see it now...
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beezer Josh View Post
When I was a kid, we would go to Carlsbad Caverns. My dad always pointed out El Capitan and Guadalupe Mountains (he grew up in El Paso), but I never even thought about climbing it...until now. Thanks for the pics and the post. Much appreciated!
Thanks for all of the nice comments folks! Yes, Beezer, that first view of El Capitan as you are coming up Hwy. 54 from Van Horn is quite remarkable and certainly memorable! Here is a shot taken at a pull-off just a short distance south of the park entrance.

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Old 06-30-2013, 08:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veriest1 View Post
Awesome! I hope to make it out there soon for a couple days of hiking.
It is truly a hiker's paradise!
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:44 AM   #11
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Thanks for sharing, looks like I found another place I need to visit!
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Old 06-30-2013, 12:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by MisterDumps View Post
Cool photos! I used to work at Guadalupe Mountains NP. It was nice to see the old stomping grounds.
Cool! I would love to work/live someplace that remote. My wife and daughter... not so much!
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Old 06-17-2014, 09:09 AM   #13
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Amending this report...

...as back in May I returned to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I departed Houston on Monday (May 19th) and spent the night in San Antonio with family. My plan was to ride the GMNP on Tuesday, but severe weather in that part of the state (including some predicted wicked high winds) necessitated a delay, so I spent night two at Davis Mountains State Park...



Did some birding there...



...and departed early Wednesday for GMNP via Texas Hwy. 118 (below) from Fort Davis to Kent...



...then I-10 west to Van Horn, and North on Texas Hwy. 54 (below)...



...and made a stop to snap a picture of El Capitan!



For this trip, I opted to spend several days at the more remote Dog Canyon Campground. It is well worth the effort to reach. South of Carlsbad, I took NM 408 west to its intersection with NM 137 (Queens Hwy., below), then turned south and headed back to Texas. Both are fairly well maintained and offer some great views and fun ridding...



Before you know it, you're back in Texas and arriving at the Dog Canyon Campground!







More to come!

txplants screwed with this post 06-18-2014 at 06:51 AM
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Old 06-18-2014, 07:04 AM   #14
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The campground has only nine sites. You park and schlep your gear to a site, although they are all fairly close. I had the campground to myself, so I picked no. 9. It had a huge alligator-bark juniper for shade and a short trail to where my bike was parked. In general, all the sites were nice, but this one was like a corner lot!

 photo WH_14_zps868f0cbb.jpg

There are restrooms and a basin for dish-washing nearby. Back-country trailheads are also close. So I set up camp, and then set out on a hike.



This park is a hikers and naturalists paradise! Never seen such lush high-elevation grasslands...



agave...



sweeping view of Dog Canyon below...



and I even found marine fossils at 8600'!

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Old 06-18-2014, 08:36 AM   #15
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Great shots as usual txplants! Love your reports, thanks.

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