We’ve been intimidated by Guadalupe Mountains for a while. Despite its beautiful Spanish name, the park is actually a vaguely menacing range of flinty mountains. We arrived on a mild December day to find a harsh wind whipping past the visitor center. We were blown around an embarrassingly short trail and then retreated to our Carlsbad hotel.
The Pinery Trail, though small, includes the ruins of a Butterfield Stagecoach Route station, from 1858. We have a big interest right now in the westward expansion of America. During this two-week road trip we read “A Lantern in Her Hand,” by Bess Streeter Aldrich, one of my favorite books!
The next afternoon we returned, determined to see more of the park and do something memorable. Bundled up to our ears, we set out on the Devil’s Hall trail, a strenuous climb totaling almost 4 miles. This was at the end of our trip and no one (except Greg) really felt like doing another hike. It was hard to get started but after a few minutes we rounded the side of the mountain and found ourselves sheltered from the wind. Morale improved when I started handing out animal cookies at quarter mile increments.
The landscape around El Capitan and Guadalupe Peak (the highest point in Texas) has a rugged beauty to it. As we hiked our first mile the scenery reminded me of The Sound of Music, but filled with spiky cactus brush.
I’m proud to say we made it deep into the rocky wash of Devil’s Hall! We turned around when the sun started to set, and had the usual issues to deal with as we hiked down – copious tears because of a stubbed toe, a baby who wanted to come out of her carrier, everyone quite ready for dinner. It was our most challenging hike of the entire trip, and the very last thing we did before starting our drive home to Charlotte.
The sunset as we drove away from Guadalupe Mountains was one of my favorites. I don’t think our iPhones captured half of the gorgeous colors streaked across the sky that night.