One of the reasons that my son and I went to west Texas and New Mexico recently was to hike up Guadalupe Peak
Guadalupe Peak is the state highpoint of Texas and sits 8,749 feet above sea level. My son is going to Philmont Boy Scout camp this summer so we thought this would be a good training hike for him
Getting to Texas’s highest point – Guadalupe Peak
The visitor’s center for Guadalupe Peak is located off of US Highways 62/180. The Guadalupe Peak visitor’s center is about 55 miles southwest of Carlsbad, NM if you’re coming from that way, or about 110 miles northeast of El Paso.
You’ll want to park in the Pine Springs Visitor Center, which is open 364 days a year (closed on Christmas Day) and is generally open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you’re there during those hours, you’ll want to go inside and purchase a Day Hike permit ($5 per adult 16 years and older). If you’re paying with a credit card you’ll need to do it inside the ranger’s station – if you pay cash you can just fill out an envelope and leave it in the drop box
Just keep in mind that like El Paso (and New Mexico) and UNLIKE the rest of Texas, the visitor’s center for Guadalupe Peak operates on Mountain time. Obviously time doesn’t really matter on the mountain (and the sun is going to rise and set the same time no matter what timezone you think you are in), so this is only an issue if you’re trying to get into the visitor’s center.
The hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak
The National Park Service suggests the hike to the top of Texas will take about 6-8 hours roundtrip.
After you park in the parking lot, the Guadalupe Peak trail along with the trail to El Capitan (another nearby mountain) start right off of the parking lot. We had gotten a bit of a later start than I’d have preferred – starting our Guadalupe Peak hike from the trailhead about 9:40 a.m.
Shortly after the parking lot, the trails diverge
The first mile or so of the Guadalupe Peak trail is QUITE steep – so if you’re not down for that, you can turn right and take the “horse trail” – this is about 1 mile longer but not nearly as steep.
It’s all fun and games till….
We started off hiking merrily along, but I don’t think my son realized quite how intense this hike was going to be and how he should have been training a bit more seriously rather than lollygagging it on “training” hikes…
Mentally, I was doing okay although physically I was a bit sore. My son, on the other hand, was having a really hard time. I tried to reach deep down into my Dad playbook to encourage him any way I knew how.
Finally, I had to start lying to him – promising potential ski lifts down from the top so we wouldn’t have to hike back down…
It felt like we were taking a 5 minute break every 2-3 minutes…
But…. we made it
About 2/3 of the way to the summit, I switched backpacks with him because I thought mine would be lighter. Then I took BOTH backpacks. Finally about 2/3 of the way to the summit, I was carrying his pack, my pack AND literally PUSHING him up the mountain. I was not going to let him quit because I was worried that he would remember that moment for the rest of his life.
Here we are almost to the top (you can see the obelisk at the peak to the left of the picture)
And a few pics of us at the top
And our log entries
And of course no hike would be complete without a few Youtube videos?!? 😀
The first one was my Leonardo DiCaprio attempt – “I’m the KING of Texas!!!!”, though you can’t really hear me due to the wind and me facing away from the camera 🙂
Then here’s the panorama from the top of Texas
Yeah that’s right – All you people from Texas – I own you. I’m better than you – unless you’ve been here too 🙂
Thankfully the hike down took much less time (about 2.5 hours) and had much less drama. We did end up having to hike the last 30-45 minutes or so in the dark, but that wasn’t too bad. Afterwards, my son took a minute to write down 6 hiking tips for first time hikers.
All in all, a great day spent with my son (though I could have done with a BIT less complaining) 😀
Got any good hiking stories? Or father-son outdoors bonding stories? Leave ’em in the comments