10 March 2013

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

10 Mar 2013--Went hiking in McKittrick Canyon on Friday, a section of Guadalupe Mountains National Park that is actually in northern Texas.  Here the Chihuahuan Desert literally meets the Rocky Mountains, so the landscape goes from stark desert to lush vegetation and mountains as you walk further along the trail.

The peak here is the highest point in the whole state of Texas, over 8700 feet, but the literature said it was a "strenuous, 6-8 hour hike" with an "elevation inclination of 3000 feet", so we took them at their word and decided to skip it.  haha  (Cathy actually thought we could do it, but I talked some sense into her, or at least my absolute refusal to even contemplate such an undertaking put that baby to rest!)

Early in our journey, Cathy broke the rules by going off the path and retrieved some fallen Yucca sticks that she prepared for us to use as walking sticks.  And they certainly came in handy...more than half the 4.8 mile round trip path was walking on these loose rocks, which roll and displace under your feet as you try to walk, so we were slower than we otherwise needed to be.

The literature said it was a 2-4 hour hike, and we came in right at 3 hours.  The path was overwhelming level, with an increase of only 200 feet in elevation, so other than the rocks it was pretty easy.

Most of the vegetation was green, as one would expect, but these items were interesting.  Check the purple in the cactus and even the trunk of what is called a "Texas Madrone" tree.  Really different!

The end point to turn around was this building, called the Pratte Cabin, built by a guy in 1931 to use as a summer home for his family.  He was told, and believed, it was the prettiest part of Texas, but clearly he had never been south to the Big Bend area.  Big Bend beats these mountains hands-down, and for my money even the Ft Davis area was much nicer.  This was nice, but nothing really in comparison to the Big Bend area.

We only stopped for about 20 minutes and headed back.  In no time at all, the dark clouds were chasing us out of there.  I was concerned about flash floods if we got caught in a downpour, so we hot-footed it out of there!  haha

Here is the drive home, a shot almost immediately as we left the park.  It is amazing to me that you can be smack in the middle of all those mountains and seemingly within yards of them nothing but flat land as far as the eye can see.

On our way home, back in New Mexico and as we drove through the town of Carlsbad, we stopped at Veteran's Memorial Park to see what was there.  Here are some pretty colored geese.

They have what they call a "River Walk", just a park with water in it, but check out these sea gulls.  When we first saw them, (2nd pic), it looked like they were standing on the water, but they are actually on the edge of the Baatan Dam...pretty cool looking, and makes you wonder why we have seagulls with no ocean?

Pretty and odd-looking ducks.

Sunset on Saturday at the RV park.

And sunrise this morning.  Totally gorgeous!

We are up and now getting ready to leave to go back to the Big Bend National Park area for another week.  We didn't see all of it last time, and with it being so far away from everything we figure if we don't see it now we probably won't go back, so off we go!  Stay tuned!


  1. The 1st paragraph under the 1st set of photos SCREAMS SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And, then when the clouds "chased" you out, years ago you would have defined your speed as "pell mell" lol

  2. Nice sun sets. Not much to see as far as rocks but what about the caverns?

  3. We only went to the caverns the one time...didn't you see the blog titled "Carlsbad Caverns"?

  4. Beautiful!!!
    What would you do if a flash flood had come????
    I would have be a nervous wreck!!! lol

    1. All we could have done was try to reach some high ground!!! Or if push came to shove, I could always get on Cathy's shoulders!!! hahaha