Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deep in the heart of Texas.

Ok, not so much the heart, more like the tip of the ear of Texas. For Loren's birthday, we went to do the high point of Texas, Guadalupe Peak. We've been eying this one for a while. I don't know why, something about it seemed very interesting. It's very remote, one of the remotest National Parks. Guadalupe National Park is desert, with a big mountain. About 300 million years ago, it was under an ocean so the peak itself and El Capitan, a weird odd shape mountain across from the high point were once part of a huge reef. All these millions of years later, it still has an ocean feel to it, even the desert scrub seems like sea weed.
The summers are very very hot and subject to very high winds and thunderstorms roll in quickly. Fall seemed like the perfect time to go. Little did we know it was also when leaf peepers went. Ok, I fully admit as an East Coaster, this idea seemed silly to me. There are a handful of trees out there that turn and while yes, they are beautiful, it's just so...ok, I sound like an East coast snob. I'll just keep it at yes, they're beautiful and pretty cool to see in the desert.
We flew into El Paso on Friday, found the divest Mexican place we could find for lunch (amazing), loaded up on supplies and headed out. We got extremely lucky with the camp site. As I said, I had no idea it would be packed. There is 1 campground in the park (car camping that is, there are several back country camp grounds, but no water anywhere so schlepping in several gallons of water was not in the cards for this trip). Wally, the camp ground host, directed us to the last camp site in the park, a handicap accessible site a mile down the road from the main camp ground. It was nice enough, elevated so someone in a wheel chair could use the site pretty easily. There was one site next to us that was being used by 3 folks from a NM meet up hiking group. The 5 of us swapped stories and shared the picnic table.
Sat. morning we woke to a hard frost on our tent. One of the difficult things about fall/winter camping is the lack of sunlight. It's a lot of time staying warm and time in the tent. We made breakfast and got an early start up the trail. Guadalupe is a 8.4 hike that gains 3000'. We caught a beautiful windless day with lots of people on the trail. It was a truly beautiful day. Photos can be seen here (the last 25 or so). There are other pictures of the trip here.
Later that day, we did the Smith Spring trail as well.
Sunday we drove up to Carlsbad Caverns to see the largest cave in North America. There are trails in the cave that allow you to walk several miles through the cave. It's pretty cool.
We then drove to McKittick Canyon. This is a 6.8 mile hike, we decided to run it. It was a fairly flat though slightly rocky trail. By people's reactions to us, you'd think they never in their lives saw anyone running. The day was beautiful and this is rated "moderate" hike so the trail was packed with people. We had people laugh, call us tough, call us crazy, one guy offer us his water bottle. I really enjoyed seeing people's reactions to something that is so normal for me to be doing.
It was also Loren's birthday. Here are some pictures from the run.

So yes, I have been running! Not too much, mostly with the dog, but I am starting to ramp back up. My body has really needed this cut back. Ha, cut back. Cut back from running. Over the last few months, I've hiked over 100 miles and gone up and down about 40,000'. Even if my running milage is low this year (it will be) that counts for something! I'm looking forward to the winter ramp up and starting to train for Boston.

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