el paso

Legend and Lore of the Guadalupe Mountains

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.

El Capitan PeakGuadalupe Mountains

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.     

Guadalupe Mountains

     

West Texas Treasure

I recently returned from a weekend getaway with a friend while we traveled New York to Boston by train. I enjoyed the company and the scenery. I live in West Texas and trees are not plentiful here. I really enjoy green scenery and trees when I have the opportunity to visit other parts of the country. And yet, there is mysterious lure to me about the remote ruggedness of West Texas. I have hiked in just about all the mountain ranges of West Texas, and absolutely love the experience. You may question whether Texas actually has any real mountains, and the answer is yes. Not as tall as the Rockies at 12,000 to 14,000 feet, but more in the range of 6,000 to 8,000 feet. Let me share with you my latest excursion.

I live in West Texas but seldom visit El Paso. It is 500 miles away. The Franklin Mountains are near the city, which I had never hiked, so I planned a journey to do just that. I drove for hours, and made decent time as much of the way had a speed limit of 80. I spent the night in a small town out in the middle of no where. A beautiful old, but clean and newly refurbished hotel. The next day I arrived El Paso, and hiked the Franklin Mountains. It may be right next to the city, but I felt like I was on Mars. On one trail I was tired, very thirsty, hot, not a bit of shade for miles, felt lost, and was miserable. But I loved it. I did not see one person of the trail I was on, and always love getting back to cool water and shade.

Franklin Mountains

I spent the night in downtown El Paso at the Camino Real, another nice restored hotel. The next morning I took in a a few museums, all within walking distance. That afternoon I caught the Amtrak train going east to Alpine, Texas, about a four hour journey. Yes there really is a place called Alpine in Texas. A small friendly town nestled among mountains and not far from Big Bend, Texas. I just sat there looking out the window enjoying the mountains of Mexico across the Rio Grande and the Texas mountains out the window on the other side of the train. Of course the mountains are in the distance. Everything in West Texas seems to be in the distance. I think most people on the train were bored, plugged into their entertainment devices, but not me. I find the scenery mesmerizing. A little bit of Jack, a little bit of Coke, the view, and I was happy as a lark. I guess I am a very simple person. I hiked about a mile to the hotel in Alpine after departing the train. The next morning I was lying in bed when I heard a train whistle. I looked out the window expecting to see a freight train, but was a bit unsettled to see it was my Amtrak ride back to El Paso. I quickly dressed, checked out and took hostage a kind couple in the parking lot who were about to depart the hotel. Most folks in West Texas are friendly. They dropped me at the train station with a very genuine Thank You from myself. I loved the ride back to El Paso.

Next I drove to the Davis Mountains where I camped the night. Before arriving at the park I had parked the car at a roadside pic nic table. I saw three cars in three hours, listening to the gentle breeze as I looked at the mountains. they seemed to stare back at me.  The following morning I scuba dived in a huge pool out in the desert of West Texas known as Balmorhea. It is spring feed, and although it is not Cozumel, I still enjoy the little fishes and the sensation of being weightless.

Balmorhea pool

It was a delightful trip. No stresses, just me, myself and I. And……..the rugged beauty of West Texas. Treasure to me.