Sunday May 19th 2019
Mission of the day summit Texas High Point! 8.5 mile roundtrip hike w/ 3,000 ft elev. gain
Early rise to beat the heat, hearty breakfast to prepare our bodies and the last bit of personal hygiene to hold us over till tomorrow night all happened before 7:30 am and we were parking at Guadalupe Mountains National Park by 7:50. Driving only a RV we had asked permission yesterday to park the RV in general visitor parking for the overnight hike. They allowed it as long as we placed our proper passes in the windshield.
As always on any hike we let the right people know we were starting, when to expect the next message and who to contact if things do not go according to plan. That person always seems to be my dad. This is a very important step to any hike and depending the severity of any situation that can appear this could ultimately be the reason you survive.
Now because we were starting at the Visitor Center and not the actual trailhead we will be tacking on an extra mile altogether. The short .5 mile got us extra pumped for the challenge that lay ahead of us, getting us primed for the landscape we would spend the next for sure day and a half in. Also brings you passed the pine springs campground and finally the trailhead where you must register before hiking.
It was here we were met with a ranger who seemed to be uneasy and voiced her concerns with us bringing Phoenix to the peak. She heavily warned us of the rattlesnakes, water situation, the heat and also wind that was coming in tomorrow. She also checked for our proper permit, asked about our water supply and despite doubting us helped us take a family picture and wished us the best. FYI we had about 35 pounds of just water alone one us plus all food and camp gear.
Little did we know what a phenomenal hike awaited us. Seriously 2nd to best hike I have ever accomplished. (Scarp Ridge in Colorado is just to hard to beat)
Guadalupe Peak Trail is all up, up and up making for one hell of a thigh burner. Our plan was to take our time hiking the 3.1 miles to the campground. Once there we would claim a spot, set up camp, relax in whatever shade we could find, eat a good meal then head for the summit with minimal gear.
Starting out we were all on high alert for rattlesnakes staying in the middle of the trail and tapping the ground before us with trekking poles. That nervousness eventually faded with the more people that passed.
The terrain was beautiful despite its rough parched exterior. The trail was all rock, challenging and downright sketchy in some parts. Phoenix however seems to do alot better ironically on the more difficult trails compared to a flat easy stroll. He stays focused for longer periods, hikes more distance and has fun with every step.
Taking frequent breaks in any shade possible was our plan of attack to conquer this mountain also flavored water packets to keep the water going down cause the heat was starting to creep in. We were passed by a handful of other backpackers, people out to see how far they could get and others who were literally trail running this whole thing. Props to all of them and almost all of them had some encouraging words for us and Phoenix. We were the only ones on trail that day with a toddler who was hiking himself. I don’t know how many high fives he got but he was loving it!!
Our first long break was before the start of all the switchbacks probably about a quarter mile before the stock junction. Stock junction is .7 miles from the trailhead. The view was flat land and sky messing for miles. You could actually see our RV that’s what Jason is pointing out to Phoenix in the video, granted our 28ft RV now looks like an ant.
One of the most sketchy parts of the trail other than always seeming to be on the edge and one rolled ankle from tumbling down a mountain side filled with razor sharp cacti and rattlesnakes was this part right here, the Around the Bend point of the trail. 1.5 miles in you will be rounding this bad boy with not a clue what lies behind. If riding up this steep rocky trail with a horse you are required to dismount at this point.
Once rounding the bend the trail became even more rocky but we were officially half way to the campground and entered the forested section of trail hopefully meaning a bit more shade cause at this point the heat was setting in and started to affect us. Our water supply was diminishing surprisingly faster that expected but not to a worry status yet. The forested section diverted our worries to mountain lions. It was along this section that we met one of the coolest siblings who I wished were backpacking so we could have just chilled and swapped life stories for the whole night. Our conversation was sparked with our shared longing for a cold one and wished a hiking drone service was a thing and could call for a ice cold one served with a juicy burger. That led into our whys, whats, families and travels.
FINALLY 5 hours in we see it, the simple post that pointed us off the trail to our home for the night.
It took another 15 minutes to walk back to and choose a campsite. First couple being occupied we ended up with a campsite that held not an ounce of shade. Ecstatic to drop our packs for the last time we did not press on to find a better site.
I stopped my garmin at 5hrs 16 mins with 4.3 miles completed. Jaw dropping time considering Phoenix (our 3 year old) hiked over half way up on his own two little legs in insane heat, extremely challenging trail with random sized rocks thrown everywhere, snakes, cliff edges and not to mention the over 2,000 ft elevation gain. How could we not be more proud of our lil man. He blows my mind day in and day out with what he is capable of and I cant help but be excited for his future if he keeps this courage and drive.
Since our only shade was to be found under our tent it was up in record time and all of us half naked, spewing off scents only loved ones could stand within minutes. Jason nor I had the energy to even think about making dinner but our hours were ticking to make it to the peak and back before sunset. Yes even thou we were completed exhausted at this point we still had to stick to the plan of bagging the peak today which meant 2 more miles of hiking unknown terrain and the grapevine whispers of some sections maybe being to risky to take Phoenix across.
As I mentioned before our water supply was being sipped faster than expected and still was so we had to start rationing. 5.5 cups were supposed to be used for 3 Mountain House dinners we used 2. Dinner was not spectacular or even fully hydrated but all 3 of us scarfed it down like it was the last food on earth along with some trail mix. Laid out in any form we could and rested for every minute we had before taking off for the peak.
The official state high point of Texas was just a little over a mile away from our campsite and we took off for it around 5pm hoping to be back before sunset. With no packs weighing us down I threw Phoenix up on my back, huge shout out to Piggy Back Rider I can go more in depth with this piece of gear in a later post but its the reason most of our adventures with Phoenix can even be possible.
Almost to the top you hit a very small section of trail that is sheer rock. No going around it or jumping across, you have to walk across it loose gravel and all. Warned by many on trail of this section and even told by some that they would not bring their own children across it I slightly panicked but told myself we would make the right judgement come time. Time came and I could understand the concern but also chuckled a bit cause it was really nothing to worry about when compared to what we all just hiked through. As for most everything in live slow down, be careful and you will be just fine like we were.
The boys stopped just below the peak as Jason was afraid of going any further and consuming more water. We had been hiking for longer than expected and still could not see the top. I kept telling myself we came all this way one of us has to reach the top. He waited in a safe corner that had a spectacular view while I pressed on to the peak which was basically up around the corner. I called to him to let him know but he was firm on staying put and I respected that.
Summiting Guadalupe Peak was a triumph. My little family just kicked this mountains ass and it certainly kicked back but we loved it. To challenge ourselves in such a way is a wonderful bonding feeling.
A triangle monument awaits your selfie with an ammo box that holds the signature book. The book was so full I had to sign the back cover. Signed 5/19/19 Wandering Nirvana!
Here I was on the top of Texas living my dreams. You honestly cant describe that feeling. Its only one you can experience first hand and its a high I will never stop chasing.
Making my way back down to the boys I felt relieved and could enjoy the scenery tenfold. We took a moment to take in a view that was by far better than the actual peak and relish in our accomplishment.
We made it back to camp before sunset and we were done. Ankles, knees and calf muscles all have had enough. We learned so much more about backpacking and ourselves on this trip. Remember this is our first trip having no access to filterable water. We laid down and despite it being semi uncomfortable my whole body yelled hallelujah! We ended the night reading through Phoenix’s junior ranger pamphlet for his nightly book. Did you know that horned lizard can shoot blood out of their eyes when threatened? Well Phoenix learned this little tid-bit and to this day tells random people that fact. Its quite hilarious at some points.
9pm rolled around without us. I awoke in the middle of the night to the wind coming in.
Check back for adventure of going down the mountain.
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