August 15th, 2010
Tom Triplett, Mark Woolley, and Ryan Cragun
We didn’t hike a state highpoint in 2009 as traveling to one from where we were all living was a bit too far. But due a recent move for Mark (to Arizona), driving to Texas to hike Guadalupe Peak made sense. Tom and I flew in on the 13th, spent the night at Mark’s place, then we drove to the campground at the trailhead on the 14th. Here’s a photo of Guadalupe Peak Mark took on the drive in. This is about 20 to 30 minutes west of the trailhead:
We spent the night at Pine Spring Campground, which is right by the trailhead. We had cell reception there, and I was even able to get internet access on my phone (which allowed me to download a Risk-like game for us to occupy our time in the evening – no fires allowed). The night was somewhat uneventful, but had a little commotion. We only had a 2-person tent, and Mark volunteered to sleep out under the stars. Temperature and weather wise, that probably would have been fine (and the lack of light pollution meant the stars were awesome). But bugs-wise, it was a bad move. Mark was getting eaten alive and it was too hot to slide all the way into his sleeping bag, so he ended up moving to the car in the middle of the night and spent the night in the car.
Mark woke Tom and I up fairly early, just as the first indications of light were peaking over the horizon (probably around 4:30 local time). We grabbed everything and threw it into the car, geared up, and hit the trail. Here we are at the trailhead:
The hike starts out fairly level, then runs into some switchbacks as you gain elevation. We were headed up the switchbacks when the sun broke over the horizon, necessitating us taking a few pictures:
We made decent time and the hike was not particularly challenging. Apparently the trail is horse-friendly, but there are parts that I would not want to take a horse on, as the trail is literally cut into a cliff face with rather steep drops, like this one:
We stopped a couple times to catch our breath, but the hike was actually moderate enough that we were able to hold a pretty good conversation up the mountain. We contemplated hiking out to El Capitan from the summit, but the trails diverge near the campground, so we opted not to. However, we had good views of El Capitan from Guadalupe Peak:
We actually summited in just over 2 hours. I tried to use my phone’s GPS to track our route, and it worked on the way up, but died just after we left the summit on the way done. According to my GPS map, our total moving time was about 2 hours and 10 minutes (which probably includes about 10 minutes of the descent). We spent over an hour on the summit. Here are some summit photos:
While we were on the summit, some clouds rolled in from the southeast. They didn’t look very menacing, and it was cool to be above the clouds, but they did prompt us to leave a little sooner than we would have otherwise so as not to get caught in a storm. Here’s a photo showing us above the clouds:
We took a few more photos on the way down, but I really liked this one of Mark as he was on a promontory and it looked very cool:
We were off the mountain by about 10 am. We saw just three other people on the trail on the way up, and they had hiked up to a primitive campground the evening before (we saw them heading out when we arrived at the campground). On the way down we probably passed 20 or 30 people who were on their way up. It was getting fairly hot at around 10 am, so I think we made the right decision to hike it very early, as we had great weather and the trail to ourselves.
Here’s the GPS map of the trail from my phone application:
View Guadalupe Peak in a larger map
I typically include a map to the trailhead, but the above GPS map shows where the trailhead is exactly, so you can use that.