Matt and Barb at Guadalupe Peak 2009This was Barb’s and my second trip up Guadalupe Peak, “The Top of Texas”. We don’t have our camp gear quite together yet so we stayed in Carlsbad, NM and made the 45 minute commute to the Pine Springs Campground/ trailhead. We arrived in Carlsbad late Friday evening and didn’t venture out until Saturday morning. We made the drive to Park Headquarters at Pine Springs and spent some time looking at the exhibits and talking the young man that was volunteering for three months down from Madison, WI. He was very knowledgeable about the wildlife and geology of the area and gave us the scoop on the formation of Devils Hall. With that being said we paid our $5.00 per person 7 day usage fee and hit the trail to Devils Hall and Staircase. We figured this would be a good way to get a little more acclimated to the nice dry air and actually hiking on something other than the fairly smooth trails in our neck of the woods.
Our early start didn’t exactly work out as planned not to mention you loose an hour crossing from NM to TX. We finally signed the Trail Registry around 10:30 and started up the trail. We noticed improvements to the trail almost immediately. Back in 2007 when we made our first hike, the trial looked like a storage area for baseball size rocks…………… they were every where. It looks like some poor soul spent some time removing these ankle twisting stones. They also added more steps to help fight erosion on the lower part of the trail. These steps were great going up but the will pound your knees into submission coming down. It amazed both of us as to how fast you climb out of the parking area which makes for great views. Just a word of warning…….. do not try to walk and site see at the same time on this trail…….. If you want to take in the view, you really need to stop……. It took us a little over an hour to make it from the parking lot to the parking lot turn (once you make the turn, you don’t see the parking anymore….). After one last look at the parking lot and the fantastic view to east, we continued on up. We went maybe fifty feet and heard rocks falling in the valley below us. It only took us a second to find the three large mule deer that started the small rock slide. We went another fifty feet and ran into the young man that was manning the information desk at the Park Headquarters the day before. He had told us he was going to get up at 3:00 am and sit on top of Guadalupe Peak to watch the sun rise. Looks like he made it. He told us to look for the Agave plants that were growing just past the meadow further up the trail. Apparently these plants, also call “Century Plants”, only bloom every 8 to 20 years and then die. We saw several of these plants with the flower towers already at four feet tall as we continued up the trail. We only ran into three more people coming down from the top. All of them said the views today were great. Onward to trudged. More switchbacks then finally we turn the corner from the northeast side of the mountain to the southwest side and get our first glimpse of the backside of El Capitan, a massive limestone formation that pioneers used as a landmark to navigate by. We knew we were getting close.
A few more switchbacks and there it was, the silver pyramid that marks the top.
The views were great in all directions. We took our pictures for the Prosper Press while being buzzed by a few birds that literally whizzed by you and by ladybugs that were just starting to arrive on the peak. You can see them buzzing around in this picture……
Last time we were here in August, the bushes on top of Guadalupe Peak were covered in Ladybugs. Have never seen anything like it. We thought they were just berries on the bushes until we took a closer look. Signed the log book. Took in the beautiful view then started the decent. We blew down the trail fairly quickly stopping briefly only to try to identify birds and eat a snack. We seemed to run into several people on the way up and really wondered if they would be coming down in the dark. Downward we dropped finally making the parking lot turn and knowing we would soon be back to our car enjoying an ice cold beer in celebration. Not having to deal with the ankle twisting rocks on the lower part of the trail made that part of the trail much more enjoyable than what we remember from two years ago. Made it back to the parking lot and signed the Trail Registry around 5:30pm. What a great hike.