We spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It was beautiful–remote, rugged, and very windy. On Saturday, we set up our campsite and went for a short hike. On Sunday, we opted for the 8.4 mile hike to the highest point in Texas–Guadalupe Peak. It was strenuous (2,900 ft elevation gain, which is a lot for people living at 48 feet above sea level in Tampa). We reached the top and enjoyed the views of the fossilized marine reef below.
We are staying at remote places where showers and toilets are not always available. This site had toilets, sinks, and water spigots, but did not have showers. We decided to invest in a privacy tent and solar shower. The tent is about seven feet tall (see above) and the solar shower is a 5 gallon bag with a hose. You place the bag in the sun and it will heat up. A hot shower after a long hike felt incredible.
Yesterday we did a shorter hike at McKittrick Canyon. It was neat to see flowing water and the former seabed.
However, it was very hot and very windy (gusts between 20-30 mph). We were both very tired and ready to relax for the rest of the day. It was a good reminder for us to slow down a bit. The desert is unforgiving and indifferent to human needs.
We left Guadalupe Mountains this morning for Carlsbad Caverns National Park, which is in New Mexico. Wow, what a park! So fascinating. The elevator to the cavern was closed, so we took the 1 mile Natural Entrance to the Big Room. This hike was steep and in dim light. It was refreshingly cool (the caverns are 56 degrees year-round). The calcified limestone creates columns and spires that were hard to photograph but simply amazing. It is a must-see if you are in southern New Mexico. We had never seen anything like these caverns.
We then drove to Artesia, New Mexico, where we are enjoying a little civilized life at a coffee shop. We will spend the night in Artesia and head to Cloudcroft, New Mexico for a few nights. It is a very different environment at 8,663 ft. Recent daytime temperatures have been in the 50s. Luckily, we have brought gear to get us through the high temperatures in the desert and lower temperatures in the mountains.
A few of the things we learned in our first week:
- Go slow. We spent most of our afternoons resting, which is what we needed to become accustomed to the altitude and heat. I pushed myself a little too much yesterday and I regretted it. We exercise regularly at home, but this is a different kind of exercise.
- On that note, we need more calories. We spend a lot of energy hiking, finding and hauling water, and completing daily tasks. We were eating our usual plant-based lighter diet and it wasn’t cutting it. We are stocking up tonight with calorie-dense foods (like Damien N’s full-fat Greek yogurt, yum).
- We can’t see and do everything, and that’s okay. We are doing a lot more just to have daily needs met (food, water, sleep) and getting to and from places, and that takes energy.
We really enjoyed our time in Texas. It is an interesting and complex state. We are psyched to be in New Mexico and plan to be traveling the state for the next 3-4 weeks. We are excited to have you along! We will update as we have wifi. Thank you all for your support, and Ranger says hello! May he keep running strong! 👍🏻🚐