Ascent of Guadalupe Peak on 1993-07-23
|Date:||Friday, July 23, 1993|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||8749 ft / 2666 m|
Ascent Trip ReportGuadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas. It was quite by happenstance that I climbed it, as I had no inkling of this fact until I showed up one July evening in 1993 and read about this fact on the kiosks at the campground.
When I was young, my dad was in the Army and we moved a lot. I was born in Oklahoma, then we lived in Texas and New Mexico, all before I was three. In 1993, I thought it would be fun to go back and revisit my old "homes". From Arizona, I drove east and visited our place on the White Sands Military Reservation in New Mexico first, then south to Fort Bliss near El Paso, Texas. These visits did not take long and I had no plan other than to stare at the old places for a few moments. The real fun was the driving and exploration.
From El Paso, I drove east toward the two National Parks out this way, Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains. I had no plan other than to camp. Since Guadalupe Mountains National Park was closer, I arrived here first at dusk. I rolled into the campground and scored the last space. Reading a kiosk nearby, I learned that Guadalupe Mountain was the highest point in Texas. On the spot, I decided to hike the peak, first thing next morning.
A year ago, I had climbed Mount Whitney in California, and had tried, but failed, in my first climb of Humphreys Peak in Arizona earlier this month. So I was aware of the idea of hiking state highpoints, but had done no research about the highest points of any other state. If I was successful here on Guadalupe Peak, I would double my success count in one hike.
The weather here, and all over the Southwest, had been very hot, no surprise given the time of the year. As a result, I began my hike as early as possible, on the trail as the sun was barely breaching the east horizon. At this very early hour, the conditions were pleasant, temperatures in the 60s. The sky was clear and there was no breeze. I was the only one hiking, and I made decent time, seeing a number of deer along the way.
I kept to the trail as it gained higher, in one place a small bridge was placed spanning a big cleft in the rocks. Past that, the trail becomes more "stair-steppy" as it scales the limestone rock, fractured over the eons into block-shaped slabs. And soon, I was on the summit, its topped marked by a triangular obelisk. I was the first one here today, not having seen a soul all day.
The views were amazing. To the south was the iconic El Capitan promontory, and in all directions was vast, wide-open West Texas desert. The one-way hike took me about two hours, maybe a shade longer. I had excellent conditions all the way up, but now, with the sun rising higher, I could sense today would be just as hot as yesterday. I didn't linger long, and started down after about 10 minutes.
The hike down went well. By now, a few more people were hiking upwards. One lovely woman was wearing a scant bikini, along with her beefy hiking boots. The excellent trail helped expedite travel, and I was back down before 9 a.m. I drove to the Visitor's Center to look at the displays and to cool off. Even at 9 a.m., temperatures were inching close to 90 F.
I decided to do some sightseeing heading east. I took backroads through the bustling towns of Orla, Mentone and Kermit, then dodged monster thunderstorms as I headed to Abilene, where I stayed the night in a hotel. The next day, I visited my birth city, Lawton/Fort Sill in Oklahoma. The rest of my trip was eventful, with forays into Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico again. I even scouted the highpoint of Oklahoma, gleaning this information from my Rand McNally Atlas. I drove by, but did not know where to park or where to hike. I would come back a couple years later to hike it, by then hopelessly addicted to this stupid hobby.
|Summary Total Data|
| Elevation Gain:||2900 ft / 884 m|
| Distance:||8 mi / 12.9 km|
| Trailhead:||5849 ft / 1782 m|
| Route Conditions:||Maintained Trail|
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