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.
I like to hike, often alone, but I enjoy it more with friends or family. When our children were small we would take them camping. The hours passed easily as we messed around the campfire or threw rocks in the stream. We were always up for a short hike almost daily but would plan for one day where as a family we do a good hike of about four or five miles. It seemed for years and years I ended with one of the little ones on my back. They get heavy, especially if you are going uphill. I was younger and stronger then so I guess I found a way to manage. My favorite hikes occurred when we camped in New Mexico. The forests are beautiful, cool and refreshing. It is called the Land of Enchantment and rightly so. Our favorite trip each year is our annual trek to the mountains of New Mexico.
One hike I remember vividly in New Mexico started with a sign that said, “Lake, two miles.” That sounded doable, but let me tell you, I did not realize it was a steep two mile uphill hike. I had to carry my smallest on my back most of the way. My heart was pounding as we ascended, plus the altitude difference always had some effect on me whether we were hiking or just sitting at the stream. I was very glad to reach the top and since the sun was out we were actually hot. Once at the top we realized it was not much of a lake, more than a large rancher’s tank. The water was not as cold as I would have thought which tells me it was not too deep. Since the small lake was only about 100 yards wide I mentioned to my wife we ought to give this a swim. We were all warm from our trek up the mountain. I was pleased when she agreed to. The youngest fell asleep so we built an awning with our coats and tucked him under it. We walked to the other side of the lake and shed our clothing down to our skivvies. I quickly ran the clothing and shoes of all of us back to where we would finish our swim, where the littlest was sleeping. I barefooted it along the shoreline in the soft mud back to the family and was the first to enter the water. My daughter eagerly followed, she loves to swim: then my son, and soon the wife.
The kids have always been good swimmers but my wife is not exactly relaxed when swimming in water above her head. I fell back to keep an eye on her. The water was quite cool at first but not too bad for mountain water. The water was not as clear as I would have expected but it was a fun experience. It did not take too long to traverse the small lake. The little one was still asleep. We all laid in the bright mountain sunlight to warm up, eventually putting our clothes on, and just in time. A group of hikers from a trail that had started in a different location came walking by. I doubt we would have swam if we had known several trails crisscrossed this lake. It was fun and an adventure I will never forget it.
I am not much of a risk taker but I do love to experience life if the adventures taken are safe. TreasureTrove is board game that lets players travel the world collecting treasures. There is also an element of adventure as players traverse the world. Please visit our website at wwwTreasureTrovegame.com
I like the word enchantment. It conveys a sense of wonder or delight. An enchanted land to me would be an inviting place to visit. A place where I could escape the realities of the world: a time of no work, but rather relaxation, daydreaming, and viewing beautiful scenery. I have been fortunate to have such a place, a land of enchantment.
New Mexico’s state motto is “The Land of Enchantment.” It is certainly that for me and my family. We live in West Texas with open spaces, beautiful sunrises and sunsets, as far as your eyes can see. I like the rugged beauty of West Texas, however, each year I am ready to retreat from the summer Texas heat and visit the mountains of New Mexico. It is our favorite getaway of the year. We visit the Texas coast in late spring and usually have done a visit to a major city outside the state once a year, but we need our annual pilgrimage to New Mexico to rest, reflect and refresh.
As far back as the 1960’s I had visited New Mexico as a teenager to snow ski with my family. In the late 70’s my wife’s parents from Lubbock, TX took us to visit New Mexico. In the 1980’s my wife and I began to travel to New Mexico for a yearly camping excursion with our small children. We would search for state parks that provide camping with quite a bit of privacy. The four of us, and eventually five, would sleep in one tent.
The days were comfortably warm and the nights were quite chilly. We were always cold to be honest, often wearing four layers of clothing in addition to the blankets on top of us. I always looked forward to the warming myself by the morning campfire with hot chocolate. I also loved the hearty breakfast my wife would dish up. I always seem hungrier in the mountains. A good hungry if you know what I mean. We would lounge, goof around the stream, play with the fire, and read. We also would take some time to hike.
Our hikes were short, maybe four or five miles round trip. The problem was, I cannot recall a time when I did not have to carry one of the kids. It comes with the territory of being a dad. I was young and in good shape but found myself wanting to get back to camp and rest.
I enjoyed our camping in New Mexico. Of course I camped back in Texas, but it had to be in spring or fall, not the summer. There was a problem however with our remote camping in New Mexico. There were no toilets. The boys and I had no problem with being Daniel Boone out in the bush, but as the years went by my daughter became a teenager. She and with my wife yearned for a cabin. I had my doubts I would like a cabin but needed to be sensitive to their desires. After ten years of the wilderness they were ready for a change.
My wife arranged through a friend to rent a cabin that would meet our family needs, yet was remote. It was a large cabin with three bedrooms, a ping pong table, a kitchen, two toilets, big fireplace, and was isolated in the New Mexico forest. It had been designed for family reunions. No phone, no TV reception, no internet, no cell phone reception. Most days we would eat and walk a very short distance to one of several springs and read a book. We always allowed one day for a drive of a few miles to a larger stream with a great hiking trail. The trial traversed the stream, the type where you have to criss-cross the stream on rocks or trees. We had to cross the stream about a dozen times. The kids loved it. My greatest remembrance of our mountain stream hikes were the years we brought our dog that loved to snoop and play in the stream.
In the evenings we would play ping pong, work on jig saw puzzles and play board games. I have always liked board games and always will. If it was just the boys and myself we might play a strategy game like Risk. If my wife and daughter were open for a game it was often TreasureTrove. Our family played TreasureTrove for almost twenty years before I ever had it marketed to sell. It was a great game for a family because it only takes 30 to 40 minutes to play.
I found myself sleeping better in the cabin and had more time to relax without always building a fire in order to cook. I had liked my camping days but found myself enjoying the cabin. The years passed and we eventually became empty nesters. It has been some time since all the family was together on our mountain retreat. One time it was just my wife and I, and we had a very enjoyable time. A great time to share with no interruptions. My daughter often tries to come along as does my wife’s sister. The boys prefer the family vacation to beach, but for my wife and me, it is the mountains of New Mexico that will continue to beckon us. We hope to visit the beautiful state of New Mexico for the rest of our lives. The folks that graciously rent the cabin to us are a blessing, as is their cabin. The greatest blessing is seeing the beauty of God’s creation within the New Mexico forests. It is indeed a Land of Enchantment.