In my previous blog I discussed my recent excursion to the far reaches of West Texas, that is, El Paso. It was there that I hiked the Franklin Mountains and had a challenging but memorable experience. As I hiked I thought of the other mountain ranges of West Texas that I have enjoyed hiking including the Davis Mountains, the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend, and not to be forgotten, the Guadalupe Mountains.
I have hiked the Guadalupe Mountains almost a dozen times, and am always held in wonderment. The highest point in Texas is Guadalupe Peak at 8,700 ft. You can see for over a hundred miles in almost any direction. I have watched the sun set while at the peak, been at the peak when it is dark, and I have watched the sun rise from the peak; all enjoyable experiences. The trails are challenging and many are quite remote. You can hike for days in the Guadalupe Mountains without seeing anyone. The Peak trail is challenging but you will see a number of folks on that trail.
The Guadalupe Mountains from what I have read were formed differently than neighboring mountain ranges such as the Rockies. They are a distinct ecosystem unto themselves. One of my favorite treasure books I read this past year was Legend and Lore of the Guadalupe Mountains written by W. C. Jameson. He is a very well-known author of many treasure books. His treasure tales are captivating but what I really enjoy most about Jameson’s writing is his attention to history. I actually love his history stories related to the Guadalupe Mountains more than his treasure stories. I have read many of his treasure books but I think the Guadalupe Mountains is my favorite.
If you are ever on a venture to see Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, the Guadalupe Mountains are just 40 miles down the road. You will feel like you are out in the middle of “no where” and you would be right. But that is the lure of the Guadalupe Mountains. I will make it a point to reread his book before my next excursion to the Guadalupe Mountains. It will quite literally add to the adventure.
What is it that fascinates people about caves? A few weeks ago I saw the adventure movie Sanctum about some cave explorers that were on an extended expedition to Borneo that were spending weeks at a time underground. Heavy rainfall on the surface caused flooding underground and the plot thickens as they are trapped by underground rivers that swell with heavy rainfall. Their way of entrance and hopeful exit is blocked by underground passages gorged with water. Let me paraphrase here, “Oh no, what are we to do? Are we going to die down here? It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s wet, and I want to go home, but how? Maybe we can swim our way out, since we have our scuba equipment; anyone have a better idea? We are all expert scuba divers,….. well……., except for her.” I’ll let you see the movie for yourself to find out what happens. Supposedly the movie is loosely based on a true story. If that is true then the word loosely is getting more stretched all the time.
I choose to see the movie. I felt compelled to. I like adventure movies, and I like documentaries on caves. I also like to scuba dive. I wanted to support Hollywood if they are going to make films such as this. I actually liked the movie, but then again I am a sucker for these type of flicks. I scuba dived through a cave once. It was dark and I was not comfortable doing so. Fortunately, my cave dive was only at a depth of 110 feet and lasted all of ten minutes. Enough for me, I just don’t like diving in situations where I cannot come up if I chose to do so.
I have visited a number of caves open to the public and I always enjoy the experience. The Caverns of Sonora in southwest Texas have the most unique formations I have ever seen. It is a small narrow passage way as the guide takes you on the tour. I sort of like that confined felling, what I think most spelunkers experience. That is about the extent of my desire to be a true cave explorer. Well defined trails with someone guiding me. However, the big one, that is Carlsbad has such large trails that you do not need a guide. I especially enjoy Carlsbad since it has a two mile walk inside the cave as you traverse downward. An elevator brings you back up. It is a great family adventure. Spelunk is a cool word that I do not hear much anymore so I wanted to take the opportunity to use it print. Speaking of cool words, how about Blombos Cave?
My daughter was helping me find interesting places of adventure in Africa to place on the game board of TreasureTrove and when she found out there was a place called Blombos Cave, she insisted we include it in the game. In reality it is an archaeological dig that investigates an early civilization on the southern tip of that continent. It is interesting not only to archaeologists but also anthropologists. The findings seem to indicate that one of the earliest known human settlements was located in Southern Africa. A large stash of utensils and artifacts have created an intriguing site of exploration.
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