Guadeloupe Mountains National Park
Trip Start Nov 22, 2007
55Trip End Dec 01, 2008
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We camped at Guadeloupe for a few days. The first afternoon we took a short hike. Later on we stargazed and caught a few shots of the moon over the nearby peaks back at our campsite before planning what to do the next day. Since we hadn't been hiking in a while, I suggested a couple of the more moderate trails to warm up the first day or two and then head up the trail to Guadeloupe Peak toward the end of our stay. I mean, I knew I could scale the highest peak in all of Texas on any given day, but I was concerned about Bob, since he had knee surgery less than a year ago
The trailhead was about 100 feet from our campsite and we began the incline to scale the peak that we could see from our camp. Within first hour or so, we found a comfortable pace and soon were halfway up that peak that we had seen from camp. We seemed to be going very quickly-the guide said it would take 6-8 hours to do the trek to the peak and back, but here we were, seemingly halfway up already within an hour and a half. That's when the trail went around to the other side of the first peak and began to lead to the next peak. We were about ¾ of the way up and around the next peak and another 45 minutes in when we passed two hikers coming down. We chatted with them a bit and casually asked how far they thought we were from the top. We were pretty surprised when they said at least another couple hours! Well, it turns out we had to scale three peaks to get to Guadeloupe Peak, each higher than the first!
You will see some of the breathtaking views we saw on our way up and down, but our pictures won't do it justice
The next day, calves still aching from the Guadeloupe Peak adventure, we headed to another part of the park-McKittrick Canyon-for another hike. The trails here are very different from those leading up the mountains, and we saw much more wildlife on this hike. We took the trail leading the Pratt Lodge and the Grotto. This trail passes by an old river bed, then over a stream and eventually to the old Pratt hunting lodge and further to an old hunter's cabin just past the grotto. On the way, you pass a part of the stream where you can see some trout (look closely in the middle of the picture of the water and you can see one!).
Lots of different types of trees, including the ubiquitous Texas madrone (included in the pictures), huge mountain pines, and scrub pines, as well as cactus. In fact many of the cactus are in bloom this time of year, and we have taken quite a few pictures of desert flowers. We also saw some colorful birds that I hadn't seen before, including a spotted towhee, a yellow-rumped warbler, a Colima warbler (pretty sure, but they are not supposed to be common here), and a western scrub jay. This area of the park is supposed to be incredible for fall foliage viewing, and I believe it, but it also holds a lot of natural treasures to view in the spring. All framed by the majestic peaks of the Guadeloupes.
This is a newer and lesser traveled national park. It is quite large and varied geographically, and we only hiked a tiny portion. So if hiking is your thing, this is a great park to visit.