Labor Day Notch
We decide to attempt the Notch again. Our last effort was cut short due to time. This time we left Van Horn at a reasonable hour. By the way highway 54 has been repaved and is nice and smooth. We arrived at the Mckittrick canyon trailhead at 8:00 a.m. mountain time. The fall colors in the canyon have not quite begun their fall ritual. However we saw some foilage just begining to turn color. No other people, we had the trail all to ourselves. The hike to the cut-off is about 3 miles. The creeks are running real nice. The winds blew through the canyon like a howling banshee. Kinda scary! Arriving at the cut-off we knew from the last time, we were in for quite a hike. This time we are determined to make it to the Notch. Books I have read ranks this as the toughest hike in the Guadalupe Mountains. Some of you may object to that. However I got a long shot of the Notch from just past the cutoff(right pic)this may give you a good idea of what you are up against.Switchbacking up the side of the mountain. With some degree of doubt and a greater degree of determination we begin the arduos trip up. This is a 1800 foot climb in a short period of time. You elevation hounds may like this one. The trail is very narrow and slick in some places. It is also very scenic.Just past the cutoff the trail takes a right turn and horseshoes back into the side of the mountain. This is a really nice shady scenic bend. From here the trail really begins to climb. When you begin to tire, the scenery drives you onward. The steep switchbacks never seem to end. Great caution is advised as you ascend. You can lose your footing and then you will have some serious issues to deal with. After 2 grueling hours we made it to the Notch. Stepping through the Notch is like stepping back in time.The scenery on the other side of the Notch will knock your socks off. It did for me.There are beautiful towering, huge limestone walls with steep high drop-offs from the trail. We hiked past the Notch and were floored as the scenery completely took my breath away.
Once you get here you dont want to leave. We had a snack sitting in the Notch just watching and our minds wondered back in time. What did the first explorers to this region think when they saw this? One can only imagine. The reality is, you have to return back to the trailhead. We knew we had to begin the long trek back. The total hike to the Notch and back is about 10.2 miles. Believe me a long 10.2 miles.My feet were killing me afterwords. Our total trip time was 5 hours. I highly recommend this hike to anyone who truly appreciates raw, rugged beauty.
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