April 26, 1998
Trailhead 1998 El Capitan 1998
Ten years ago, when I was 53 years old, we hiked Guadalupe Peak. The company I work for had transferred me to Texas. My partner and I belonged to a group of highpointers who hike the highest points in the United States. We had already hiked many of the eastern states and were looking forward to doing some of the high points in the midwest & west.
Seeing as we were now living in Texas it was a good starting point for our western highpoint adventures.
Texas had been our home for less than two years when we learned that friends of ours from northeastern Pennsylvania were moving to Tucson, Arizona. On their way there they stopped for a visit. We decided that we would get together and hike Guadalupe Peak.
On April 26, 1998 our friends, my partner and myself met at Van Horn, Texas to hike Guadalupe Peak.
My partner, John, had just turned 33 and was the youngest of our group. One of our friends that was participating in the hike was 62 years old. I remember thinking that I hope when I became 62 years old that I would be able to hike Guadalupe.
Guadalupe Peak is 8.4 miles hiking round trip. The elevation gain from the parking lot at the visitor center to the top is 2950 feet. It was my first hike that would take us along a trail with shear cliffs. At that time in my life I had a real phobia with heights. It was the scariest hike I had ever done. I really could not enjoy the sights because of my phobia.
I felt proud of myself that I was able to make it to the top. Once there I just wanted to be back at the parking lot and away from all the frightening height.
It took us six hours to complete the hike and I thanked God when I was finally back safe in the parking lot. Since Guadalupe we have hiked Mt. Elbert, Wheeler Peak, Boundary Peak and Humphreys Peak. Each of these peaks are over 12,500 feet. After each hike I became more self assured with my height phobia.
June 24, 2008
This year, because of the high gas prices, we decided not to take a vacation and drive back east. Instead we decided it was time to revisit Guadalupe.
On June 24, 2008 at 7:00AM we were once again in the Guadalupe visitor parking lot ready to start our hike. My birthday is June 29, I was doing the hike just days before my 64th birthday. The night before we had stayed in Carlsbad. On our way from Carlsbad to Guadalupe Peak we could see thunder/lightening off in the distance. We had decided that if it looked at all like a thunderstorm we would not hike the peak. By the time we got to the park the sky was clear. Temperature was 65%. A beautiful morning.
Fifteen minutes into our hike we came upon a very tame mule deer. It seemed to know that we would not harm it. A little further up the trail we came across several lizards. It was just a beautiful day for a hike. The bottom half of the trail has many switch backs. At every turn you are able to see more of the dessert and the surrounding mountains, new vistas and awesome sights.
About two and a half miles up the trail you hike through pine trees and agave plants. The agave plants were in full bloom. I thought they were the most interesting plants I had ever seen. We took many pictures of these plants. From what I have read about these plants only a few animals are able to pollinate the blossoms on the plants. We were gifted in that we saw a Scott’s oriole doing just that. I had my movie camera with me and tried to get it on camera, but in my excitement could not get the camera focused.
Three miles up the trail is the highest camping area in Texas. From this camping area it is only another mile to the top. The last mile can be the scariest as this is where the trail follows the side of a cliff with a sheer drop off. It seems to drop forever. This time I was able to look over the ledge and not feel paralyzed.
When you approach Guadalupe Peak from the main road there is a very impressive mountain, El Capitan, with cliffs that drop for many feet. From the road it looks very daunting. It is a massive mountain that seems to have been thrust straight up out of the ground. At first you think, “Is this Guadalupe Peak?”, but the peak is hiding behind this massive structure of rock. When you finally reach the peak you are able to look down on this massive hunk of rock.
We peaked at 9:30AM. Spent about 25 minutes taking pictures of the peak and visiting with other hikers. The views were beyond description. Every turn you took there was another view of the surround prairie and mountains.
On the way down you get a different view. Rather than looking up you are looking down on where you have to hike. It was the same views you see on the way up, just from a different angle, but just as impressive.
The last mile started taking a toll on us. John developed blisters on his toes. My calves had tightened up and it seemed like the visitor center parking lot was forever out of reach, but that is just a part of hiking. We reached the parking lot at 12:41. It took us 6 hours 31 minutes to complete the hike. Each hike has it problems. The sights and challenge of the hike far over shadow any inconvenience you have to endure. I was really delighted that we had revisited Guadalupe Peak. The second time around was far better than the first.
At the top of Texas John Signing Register