April 16, 2012

On the Road Again and the Highest Peak in the World (in Texas)

Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and started off the day by eating a great breakfast with Brett and his grandma at the Old German Bakery. Afterwards, we drove the trailer to the nearest dumping station (Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, only $3 if you’re in the area!), and then to Wal-Mart to get the new tires put on the trailer. We also had the tires rotated on the truck, and threw in a new air filter.

After that we were On The Road Again (sing it Willie!). The drive on I-10 was that much more interesting this time because there was a high winds advisory for all of West Texas. Not only were there 18-wheelers flying by us doing 85m/h causing wind gusts as they went by, we also had to deal with random wind bursts from all directions as we drove through the narrow canyons on the highway. We did see the Patriot Run Across America on the highway though! We saw his van first, and then a mile later down the road we saw John Pyle himself, walking on the shoulder carrying the American flag. Way to go guy! He’s about half way on his journey across the country now!

As we were nearing Fort Stockton, all of a sudden the clear views we had of the surrounding mountains got murky, and a brown fog rolled in. What the heck? I pulled up the Weather Channel app on the phone and there was a new weather advisory for the area, a Sand Storm was rolling in! I put an exclamation point there because it was kind of exciting…we’d never been in a sand storm before! (Wait for the lame reference to the DaRude Sandstorm…I’m still working on it). So instead of risking it, we decided to pull over and overnight at the Ft. Stockton Wal-Mart parking lot. Here we are, packed in snuggly between an RV from California and an RV from Florida.

Snug as a bug in a Wal-Mart parking lot
The winds picked up overnight and we eventually had to put the trailer jacks down to keep Lucy from rocking and rolling. Yes, we broke the boondocking etiquette of looking like you are just casually parked, but I thinking the manager would understand.

In the morning we drove the rest of the way to our next destination, the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We took I-10 to the highway 54 Corridor. On I-10 we slotted in behind an Oversized Load truck in hopes of avoiding the wind gusts and getting better gas mileage:

Slotted behind a large load
On the Hwy 54 Corridor
We entered the Mountain Time Zone about 10 miles before the park entrance. The entrance fee of $5/person was waived because of our America the Beautiful pass. We bought an $8/night RV parking spot (no hook-ups) at the Pine Springs campground, parked the trailer, and started off on the Guadalupe Peak trail.

This trail is rated strenuous, and its worthy of its rating. You climb over 3000 feet of elevation to get to the top, and you do so in 4.2 miles, (8.4 miles roundtrip). The way up is all tight switchbacks, with a rocky terrain, and the air quickly thins as you ascend. The destination you are climbing to reach, the Guadalupe Peak, is the highest point in Texas (8,749 feet)!

On the Guadalupe Peak trail

We climbed to the top, signed the record book, and ate a quick snack. Down in the valley you could see the Salt Flats as well as irrigation circles, which looked really out of place in the desert. It was very windy at the top, and pretty cold, so we didn’t stay long.

Signing the record book at the top of Texas!
The view from the top, salt flats and irrigation circles
The hike back down wasn't horribly exciting, but at one point, we were walking along and I was blabbing about something, not paying attention, when Sky came to a halt and shushed me. My first thought was “oh crap..we’ve finally ran into a bear”. Not sure why that was even a possibility since bears don’t even live in Guadalupe, but with all the warnings we saw in Big Bend, it must have been on my mind. Thankfully it turned out to be a pack of deer out for their evening snack. :o)

Today we are hitting the road once more, and hope to reach our fourth state on this journey, New Mexico!

See more pictures of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park here.

Happy desert hiking!


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  1. What was in that record book?


    1. It was the names of everyone who's climbed to the top. Sky added us in. :o)