The GPS said it would be a 7 and a half hour drive to Guadalupe Mountain National Park, so at least eight and a half hours for us. I realized I hadn’t eaten real Texas BBQ brisket while in Dallas so I wanted some before I left Texas. Guadalupe National Park is still in Texas but closer to Mexico so I wasn’t sure of my prospects. We stopped at Texas Cattle exchange which said Tuesday at noon is the auction, it was 12:30. We started in and I giddily ran up the steps into the auction stage bleachers. I’d seen auctions at 4-H events but nothing like this, this was real Texas auctioning. I giggled standing there watching the calves come up one by one but quickly left, knowing that Travis was smelling the brisket getting hungry. Our brisket barbecue was delicious, served with a side of green beans and sweet potato fries. Okay, now our big food spending was done.
As we approached Mexico, the gas stops and towns became more degraded. We left the interstate and were shocked at the desert landscape, complete with oil Derricks and flaming vent stacks. We steadily climbed into the mountains passing through deep chasms cutting to the sides of the mountains. We found the park with an hour left till sundown, explored the sites and pick #10 100 feet from the car. We set up our tents and Travis cooked dinner, chicken alfredo. We were at 5600 feet elevation and it was much cooler. We didn’t set an alarm, wanting to wake up naturally whenever we were rested. I ate oatmeal and Travis had Breakfast Essentials before heading to the visitor center to get some info on the trails. I left my tent up to reserve our side but Travis had to take his down because he needed his trekking poles. We set out for Guadalupe Peak Trail, an 8.4 mile round trip to the tallest mountain in Texas, 8749 ft. We ogled at the prickly pear and Cholla cacti along the trail. The trail was tough, a lot because we just driven across half the country, with no working out, and possibly some elevation acclimation. I was wearing my new long sleeve Sun shirt, hat, and capris to try to protect myself from this sun/heat. It was a little uncomfortable making me whine my way up the trail, eventually I got used to it and started noticing the views. We crossed a precarious cliff ledge, straight up on our right, good 5 feet wide Trail straight and down on our left. I wanted to do that my whole life. The fulfillment of my dream made me forget to feel any fear. We thought the mountain in front of us at the parking lot was the mountain, but it was actually one of five. The clouds started rolling in, making me think we weren’t going to make it to the top before the sky let loose. I wasn’t worried about rain but going down slippery rocks sure wasn’t making me leap for joy, I was worried about thunder and lightning. Clouds just kept rolling, giving us glimpses of the other mountains and valley that made them so much sweeter. Soon we turned the corner to find the monument marker high on the rocks above us. Immediately we dropped our packs and kept turning around, taking in The 360-degree View. Whew, we made it! I’d never have thought the highest mountain in Texas was this tall. There was a hiker box at the base of the pyramid or a geocache type box full of goodies like MREs, bandanas, coins, knives, a lighter, cards and a Piezo igniter. Most stuff we just sorted through but we took the igniter. I don’t like using lighters and this would never run out. My Achilles heel had been hurting slightly on the way up but had gotten worst the past 30 minutes. Travis wrapped it like he’d seen on YouTube as I rushed him because the Thunder and clouds were right there! As soon as he finished, I grabbed my pack and headed down. We passed people still climbing even as it started sprinkling. We put on our rain jackets and pack covers and continued racing down the mountain. Of course the sprinkling stopped and we got hot, so the jackets came off, down came more sprinkles. we passed loads of people going up even as we approached the car. I wondered if they would make it all the way to the top as the suggested completion time is six to eight hours and it was 4 p.m. It tookus seven and a half hours with all of our many breaks.
Travis got excited to cook dinner because he was going to make pizzas! That’s right, pizza with our four and a half inch frying pan on top of a Optimus Crux gas canister stove. He brought out the tortillas, tomato paste, pepperoni stick, mozzarella block, and parmesan cheese making magic happen. First cut the cheese and pepperoni, then make tomato sauce, combine into the middle of a 12 inch tortilla and fold like a Crunchwrap from Taco Bell. Heat until golden brown on both sides. Let cool, enjoy! Oh what a glorious meal to celebrate our hike!
Morning brought a beautiful sunrise even though the forecast was for overnight and afternoon thunderstorms. We got a late start to our 4mile desert hike through McKittrick Canyon. It was supposed to be mixed shade and Sun but of course was mostly sun. We bandaged our car in the reflective bubble wrap, reflectix, that Travis had specifically cut for each window, hoping that it would keep the car from getting unbearably hot. On our way to Platt cabin, we saw numerous lizards, a baby tarantula and a snake in the creek we crossed. We crossed a couple dry washes before reaching one with water flowing. Wallace platt had built a cabin there in the 1930’s because it was an oasis in the desert, the most beautiful spot in West Texas. It started barely sprinkling as we headed back, keeping us cool enough with an icy raindrop here in there. We ate a few bars for lunch before heading up the road to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.