Deming to Guadalupe Mountains NP, TX
Monday, October 23, 2006 … 221 Camper Miles – Total 11,471
Bright sunshine, again, low 80s
Bill found his cappuccino at a local convenience store and WiFi in the Best Western parking lot. Then we packed up and left about 10:00. We had planned to head for Big Bend NP in Texas from here but decided against it. We wanted to visit friends in Dallas who are about to leave for a cruise and we’d have had to rush the visit to Big Bend in order to see them. We decided to stop at Guadalupe Mountains NP instead, which is right along the way to Dallas.
Continuing along I-10, we purchased some groceries in Las Cruces and headed off the interstate just before El Paso, toward the Guadalupes. The drive up to the park is quite impressive. Directly in front of you as you climb the mountains is this park’s own El Capitan and, of course, the 8,794-foot Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas.
We made a quick stop at the Visitor Center and set up camp in Pine Springs CG. We hiked Smith Spring loop trail which starts at an old ranch on the property and goes to a spring at the base of the mountains. The Guadalupes are an ancient seabed that has raised. They are mostly porous limestone and rate as one of best examples of exposed fossil reef anywhere in the world. The vegetation changes to a riparian form in the vicinity of the spring and the spring, itself, is quite picturesque.
Back at the campground we met a fellow named Roger. It turns out that he is from Mountville, right near where we live. Roger likes to hike the high points of the US states which was what brought him to this park. He travels pretty lightly, though, simply renting a car and sleeping in the car with no tent or cooking facilities. Of course, we invited him to share dinner with us. The shrimp scampi and veggie stir-fry we served was probably more inviting than a bag of pretzels and a container of yogurt. Small world, isn’t it!
Guadalupe Mountains NP to Lamesa, TX
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 … 200 Camper Miles – Total 11,674
Overcast, 70s, light rain
We started the day with a hike up the McKittrick Canyon Trail to Pratt Camp. Pratt camp is the vacation home of the geologist who once purchased the canyon, describing it as the most beautiful pace in the country. He later donated it to the government to make into a national park. Unique to this canyon is that the calcium carbonate-laden water precipitates out deposits that form beautiful travertine in one section of the stream bed.
“Sign” Along The Trail Makes For Interesting Reading
The two-bedroom, two-bath cabin is built entirely of local stone, including the roof! The setting is very pretty, though we agreed that we could probably think of a couple of spots in the US that we found more beautiful.
By noon we were packed up and on the road, bound for Dallas. We elected to get off I-10, traveling US-180, instead. It turned out to be a good decision. This excellent, two-lane road gets almost no traffic and there is only an occasional tiny town for which you must slow down. Since few people travel this road, there is no point of having billboards; and, that was a pleasant change from the interstates.
Through west Texas and the southeast corner of New Mexico we flew. The area is vast and dry. We saw a number of potash mines, oil and gas wells, evidence of current well drilling activity, windmills for both power generation and watering cattle and, later, massive, irrigated fields of cotton. The small towns are simply small centers that cater to oil, agriculture and cattle ranching.
Seeking an easy place to camp, Sandy found Forest Park in the medium-sized town of Lamesa. The community park provided water and electricity but no bathrooms. The price was right, though … FREE! We borrowed the bathrooms at the local MacDonald’s and had leftover chili over rice with salad for dinner. Afterwards, we updated our travel notes and Sandy wrote out a few cards and post cards.