On December 27, 201 at 8 AM, we arrived to the Guadeloupe mountain park
The original plan was to spend a night on a campsite in the park. But the cold night spent on dunes changed our plans. We slept in a comfortable room in Carlsbad’s Travelers Inn & Suites instead. It was nice to have a hot shower and wonderful dinner (at Red Chimney Pit Barbeque). For my opinion, Red Chimney Pit Barbeque is the place in Carlsbad where one could have a good dinner with a lot of good meat and a really fresh salad. Although I don’t eat meat myself anymore, I am still able to tell a good ribs from bad ones.
We did not climb the Guadeloupe peak, because the week before they had 2 big snowstorms there. A park ranger strongly advised us not to climb, because the peak was covered with snow and ice knee high. However, it was really warm down there at the Visitor center. It was about +12 C; and it was hard to believe that there is snow somewhere at the top.
We went to the Hunter peak, which is little lower. The trail that goes to the peak is on the sunny side of the mountain, which makes us hope it has less (or fewer?) snow.
Some sources said that Hunter Peak (2600 ft), is Texas’ sixth highest summit, the others insist that it is the second one. It is located on the other side of Pine Springs Canyon from the Guadalupe Peak.
Climbing Hunter Peak was relatively easy; even with the trail covered with ankle deep snow. Very soon, we became so hot that we started putting off all extra clothes, we put on that morning. And 1 gal. of water per person that we took remembering ranger’s advise also helped. Water is essential there, no matter of current weather.
There are 2 ways to climb the peak. One can choose a fast and steep ascent to the peak and a slow and smooth descent, or choose otherwise. We decided to go up slowly, and then use the fast way down. But it did not work, because we did not reach the top. We stopped 400 m before summit, mostly because the last mile of the trail was covered with snow that was up to Artem’s knees deep.
When we almost reached the top, we had to hike through the Bowl, which is a surprisingly dense conifer forest that is a remnant of a time when the climate throughout Texas was cooler and moister (which is about 20 000 years ago). This rare forest was able to survive in the higher and more water protected elevations of the Guadalupe area.
It was really amazing to see conifers and cacti growing together and both covered with deep snow.
The last 600 m Artem and Andrey were walking through the pine forest, without a trail, navigating only by GPS and animals’ trails. I stayed in the Bowl :-).
But it worth climbing. On our way down, we found a bone. I wonder which bone it was. They have mountain deers and mountain lions here.
It was a nice hike. All the way to the top we enjoyed spectacular views, some of them reaching up to 100 miles well into New Mexico and Texas. It took us about 6 hours to go up and went down.
On our way up we met a couple – a father and his teenage son, who told us that they spent a night in the Bowl. According to them, it was nice, but very cold and wind reached up to 50 mph.