Happy Birthday to ME!
This is my first time contributing to this website, so bear with me.
Well, my husband I found out recently we are pregnant! My birthday was at the end of the month, and I'd already arranged for my parents to watch our first child so we could go backpacking or something. My very first backpack trip was about 8 years ago, to Guadalupe Mountains. I never got to do the Peak that time, as a thunderstorm moved in first thing in the morning, when I'd planned to summit. This time, this early in my pregnancy, and this being the last "strenuous" trip I'd be allowed to do at least until next fall (by the time I can, it'll be summer and too bloody hot to move, much less with any weight on my back!), I thought it would be the opportune time to attempt this summit. So Friday, the 21st, hubby and I dropped off the kiddo, loaded up in the truck, and made the 7.5 hour drive out to the Park. We got there in plenty of time to set up camp, check in with the Rangers, eat some chow, and spend the rest of the evening taking pictures of the sunset and surrounding sights. We turned in early to get as much sleep as possible, and I was up just as the sun was peaking through the brush.
Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early, and were on the Guadalupe Peak trail by 7am. The sunrise was beautiful, and the weather was just perfect for backpacking--a touch on the cool side. I decided to try backpacking in my Mountain Hardware skirt, to see if it'd be easier to take potty breaks than the "traditional way" for girls. I have a funnel, but can't seem to find it right now, which means it's lost somewhere in the garage, amongst the pile of backpacking and camping equipment that is not quite sorted yet... Anyway, the skirt is awesome--it's water resistant and quick drying, not that this was a factor this weekend. But this has been useful when I've worn it for work a few times and it rained. The skirt also has drawstrings on the sides to shorten it a bit, making it easier to take big steps and manuever around the rocks.
On the trail, the sun rose quickly, as did the temperature. I had to keep stopping to take pictures of everything--the sunrise, the millions of yellow bushes everywhere, rocks, the trail, you name it. It's a 3.5 mile, 2000 ft. climb up to the primitive campsites. It took us 5 hours to get there--between picture taking, eating breakfast trailside, and snack breaks.
Upon arriving at the primitive sites, we set up our tent, and crashed for a 3 hour nap. Boy, was that a good nap! We had an amazing lunch of pepperoni, cheddar cheese and olive oil/black pepper-flavored triscuits. It's amazing how good this food tastes off-trail, but how purely heavenly it tastes ON-trail! Later, we feasted on Jamaican chicken and rice and had some s'mores, Backpacker's Pantry-style--that was RICH! More picture-taking, watched thunderheads build up and wondered when the storm would hit us, played cards until I got tired of losing, and we turned in early again.
Somewhere around 5am, the storm hit with full force. Thunder and lightning strikes were so close that the ground shook a few times, and we're pretty sure that at one point, we smelled something burning, but couldn't seen anything. The storm was just spectacular. The lightning lit up the sky like daylight, the thunder bounced off the surrounding mountains, and the rain lasted about 2 hours. Then, just as suddenly as it started, it stopped and the sun came out. Our packs were a bit wet, so we went ahead and headed up to the summit to allow our gear time to dry before we actually packed. We summited around 8am. The sky was a brilliant blue, mixed in with quite a few clouds. We felt a few raindrops on the way up, so we didn't stay up top for long. It was quite windy on the trail in several spots! Imagine, being that high up and it being windy... *sarcasm* Anyway, while I signed the summit log, Darrin set up his camera and took some pictures, including the obligatory couple's shot. The view from the top was amazing--all the mountains below, we passed the backside of El Cap on our way up and back down, several distant mountain ranges including the Sierra Diablos and some others that I can't remember names of now.
After summitting, we hauled tail back to the campsite, loaded up, and headed back down the mountain. Amazingly, we were back at the truck by 11am. We didn't stop to take many pictures this time around, as downhill is killer on my knees and I prefer not to stop too much.
All in all, this was a wonderful trip with perfect weather! I was so glad to get to summit the Peak this time--great last tough trip for awhile, and certainly memorable!