Well, the plan was to spend 4 days hiking in Guadalupe Mountain National Park, culminating in a climb to the highest point in Texas (Guadalupe Peak) on the last day. So much for plans….
We arrived at the visitor center late in the afternoon of Dec 3 and it was cold… and getting colder. The Ranger who gave us our backcountry permits reminded us that the backcountry campsites were several thousand feet higher than the visitor center (5,800′). Using the old rule of 5 0F per 1,000′, that would be 10 degrees colder than Pine Springs CG (where we were spending our first night).
We quickly set up our tent as the temperature plummeted from the balmy 45 degrees when we arrived. We ate a quick dinner in the car and were in our sleeping bags by 6:00 PM to try to get warm.
By morning our plans had changed. After a night of trying to sleep (wearing everything we had inside our bags) we realized that camping even higher would be a disaster.
We decided to do the ~8.5 mile (round trip), 3,700′ Guadalupe Peak climb and then skedaddle into town and a warm motel.
We started up around 7:30 (temperature had warmed up to 30 degrees or so). It is basically a 4 mile, 3,700′ climb that is pretty steep in parts. But the weather was great for hiking and the sun was out!
You can’t actually see the peak as you climb – it is always over another ridge. The trail is rocky but in good condition. At one spot there is even a bridge over a small chasm.
In the visitor center they say to “plan on 8 hours” to climb Guadalupe Peak. We reached the top in 2:45 after passing two couples. Much younger couples. Very satisfying.
There were only a couple of people on the top but more started to arrive so we only stayed for 15 minutes or so before heading down.
We were back down around 1:00. Thinking of a warm bed and a hot shower.