Wednesday, May 25, 2016

New Mexico Apr 2016 Westward Ho! 8 A turn to the north Guadalupe Mountains

The landscape leaving Balmorhea heading west and then when we turned north was very much the same for awhile.  We drove along long stretches of road with buttes and mesas to the side, vast expanses of land and blue skies and then we began to see the Guadalupe Mountains ahead.


Rte 62/180 would take us north and we drove until we got to Pine Springs, site of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park visitor's center and campground.  A quick stop at the Visitor's Center to pay the whopping $4/night fee (we are old farts after all and younguns have to pay $8 a night) and we drove up to the campground.  It's basically a parking lot at the trailhead for several of the trails, including the one leading to the top of Guadalupe Peak and has no hookups but fresh water was available from the spigot so we put water in our tank and found a nice spot next to a tree where Cadbury would spend the next 4 days anytime he was free (on his tether) to enjoy the outside.

Can you say windy?  Man! The views across the plains and of the surrounding cliffs and peaks were spectacular, the air was lovely though the sign at the visitor center told us the haze in the air came from CA, but man oh man the wind.  I needed to send some emails and we had no reception at the site so I walked down the hill to the visitor's center and there got into a conversation with a guy about this blog.  He was traveling in a class B and needed gas so headed out after awhile saying he'd be staying in Whites City which is at the intersection 35 miles north leading to Carlsbad Caverns.  A few hours later Don and I noticed him parked across from our site and it turned out that while he'd gotten gas, the last miles he rode "on fumes", the RV parks up there were far more expensive.  He, Bill, was heading to Carlsbad Caverns the next day too but was long gone when we headed out at 9 the next morning.  (see Westward Ho! 8a Carlsbad Caverns National Park)

After our great day underground, the next day we decided to hike to Devil's Hallway one of the shorter hikes at GMNP.  We were not up to summiting Guadalupe Peak, although our friend Bill did, and we thought we would go to McKittrick Canyon the following day if our legs were up to it.  The sun was yet again bright and the skies blue and the hike was lovely.  First along the rocky ledge we then descended into the dry wash bed and finally came to an area where, once we climbed up a small ledge, we continued to the "hallway" a space between two towering cliffs.  There we sat and ate our picnic lunch before we returned to the campsite.  A lovely day but our legs were beginning to remind us that we had not been doing enough hiking.

Whether we would go the next day or not was decided by the weather.  That day had ended with clouds coming in and fiercer winds and the morning dawned with more clouds, more cold and more wind.  We opted to stay put and watched as young people came and set off up the mountain. Several who'd set off the day before, planning to spend the night at the top, had returned that afternoon but a number waited and came down the next morning.  They all looked like they'd spent the night in the cold.  Brrr.  I decided to get some computer work done down at the visitor center and drove down since it was so windy and cold.  While there I had an interesting conversation with a man whose wife had been bitten by a brown recluse spider, had to leave work, was no longer paying the bank their mortgage so losing their house, on SSI and it was all the government's fault.  After an interesting long talk with the ranger I then set out back to the campsite and the sky had cleared with beautiful blue sky and small clouds tucked into and on top of the mountains.

The clouds started coming in in the late afternoon

By morning they were heavier

Settling on the mountain tops

And then they lifted


There were a few stragglers hiding and sitting until the wind blew them away

We had a few hour drive the next day and wanted to stop in Carlsbad to "dump" and get gas so we were up and out before 7am.  On our way to Bottomless Lakes outside Roswell, NM.

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