Having spent the previous day delayed quite a bit in Arkansas bagging Signal Hill on Magazine Mountain, I was further away from Black Mesa than I wanted to be. I like to get an EARLY start whenever I go climbing, but that was not going to be the case today, and I paid for it later.
I should have been waking up in Amarillo, TX, if not Boise City, OK, instead I was waking up in Shamrock, TX. I saw a nice Texas sunrise, ate a crappy breakfast, and then I was off on the road. Quite an interesting drive for someone from NJ, I must say. I never had experiences like that driving, where all you see is just flat land as far as the eye can see. No trees, just NOTHING. And nobody. Not a cloud in the sky either. It really started to get awesome though once you get in the Black Mesa area. It just looks like the Wild West. I was really enjoying the scenery. I finally got to the trailhead. And it's high noon!
Yup, high noon, not a cloud in the sky, and the sun is BLAZING hot. Damn it, I didn't get my sunscreen like I was supposed to, so I know I'm going to get sunburned now. Well it's supposed to be relatively flat with only one really "climbing" part from what I read, so it shouldn't be that bad, right?
I had myself a gallon of water, and my aqua daypack. I poured all I could into it, which came to like 3/4 of the gallon jug. I was hoping that would be sufficient. Right at the trailhead you look up, and there's a pretty darn high mesa right there. And all in the distance you could see some pretty impressive mesas, and I'm out to get the highest! Actually I was just hoping I wouldn't come across any rattlesnakes. I don't like snakes! I was hoping also that I could get up and down quickly, without getting burned too badly. Right away I heard all these insect sounds, which got me all paranoid about the snakes, but there was two cars at the trailhead when I got there, so at least I knew I wouldn't be alone.
On the trail
So I was off on a quick pace. But any way you look at it, 4 miles is 4 miles (4 miles one way that is), and after like 2 miles I was feeling the HEAT, and I was getting red fast. Damn it! And one guy passed me coming down, so that leaves me with one other person or group. And the SUN. I'm a picture nut, so I was having a hard time not wanting to take hundreds of photos like I normally do. I took a lot of pictures, but if I was there under less extreme circumstances I could have taken more. I'm happy though with the 107 photos I took (That is quite a lot I reckon!)
Eventually I find myself at the climbing part. And I'm actually thinking I should go back, or I'm going to be too
sun burnt. I was having a rough time for sure. Today was the day to do this. If I go back, and come back tomorrow it throws off all the rest of my plans for the week. Plus I'm already burnt as it is. I might as well continue, right? I was debating like this for quite a bit there in this shaded part. Man it was just HOT! What if I get dehydrated or something? Or a horrible sunburn?
Then I saw the spark plug that made me go on. There was a family heading up the Mesa, not that far from me, and there was a little kid with them. If they could do it, I can do it! So I pushed on knowing I could catch them easily, and then pass them. So if I did succumb to the heat, they would be there to help me I suppose.
Heading back and conclusion
So I got a second wind in me, and I blazed to that monument marker. I really wanted to get my picture taken by someone there, but the family was just way behind me, and I wasn't going to wait around in the sun, so I took my own picture (which I hate doing.) I signed the register, took some more photos, ate a cliff bar, and headed back. I passed the family, we wished each other luck, I took a bunch of more photos, and I made it back.
Man was I RED though. I got a good sunburn all right. I'm still peeling skin from it, more than a week later. But I learned my lesson. I did Guadalupe Peak a few days later, but I started the climb at dawn, and I had plenty of sunscreen. Overall it took me 2 1/2 hours RT to notch Black Mesa under my belt. My advice to you though when you go is make sure you have time to really enjoy it. DON'T be going at high noon under the blazing sun.