Dirty Shoes

everything is more fun when you get dirty


2 Comments

Mount Massive

Mount Massive

Mount Massive from a distance.

Type: Out-and-back
Length: 13.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,371 ft.
Time: approx. 10 hours
Grade: A (For views, difficulty, and trail quality)
Parking lot

Three weeks ago I had an austin bunionectomy, meaning that I won’t get another good hike in for at least two to three months! With the upcoming hiatus, I spent 10 days in Colorado, where I did two great hikes to mountain lakes and two 14ers. The real highlight of the trip was the Great American Beer Festival — I spent four hours trying about 65 beers, most of which were of incredibly high quality.

2013-10-07 13.35.17

I’ve seen many hikers and trail-runners go to Colorado and do nothing but 14ers, which is a real shame — hikes to mountain lakes can be just as tough (and in fact, tougher), provide more variety, and have incredible views. But my favorite hike this trip was a 14er: Mount Massive. We did Missouri Lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness (An awesome hike and a close second!) and stayed overnight in Leadville, CO. We enjoyed post-hike pizza and wings at High Mountain Pies (The wings were very good — and from a Buffalo native, that’s saying something.), but everything else in Leadville, including the new distillery, was closed. That morning, we started off the day with breakfast and coffee at City on a Hill, this mountain town’s token high-quality coffee shop, and then we headed to the mountain for a long hike with a ton of elevation gain. Unlike other 14ers I’ve done, Mount Massive’s trailhead is not halfway up the mountain. The Mount Massive Trailhead is at 10,050 feet and about 7 miles from the summit. The road in was in pretty bad shape and I don’t recommend attempting without four-wheel drive.

Colorado: where you get this view on a PASS.

We used the book Colorado’s Fourteeners and the TI map for Mount Massive Wilderness.

We had hoped to hike the loop option from this trailhead, by turning left roughly a mile into the Colorado Trail and approaching the main massive summit from the southern summits, but this trail does not seem to exist anymore. Even using the GPS coordinates and my watch, we couldn’t find it. So, we ended up doing the out-and-back option. Since it was mid-week and in October, we only saw two groups of two to three people on the mountain and a few campers on the way down.

2013-10-07 16.38.55

The trees are so different from VA.

The directions for this hike are easy: Hike 3.3 miles from the trailhead on the Colorado Trail, turn left onto the Mount Massive Trail, elevation 11,260. Follow to the summit. But, I recommend to always be prepared with a topo map. The trail was easy to be found except when it was covered in a foot of snow, but that’s to be expected in Colorado in October.

Our day varied in temperature by 30 degrees; it was cold at the start, but once we were above the treeline, the warm sun made me wish I had a t-shirt on. The climb up the pass/saddle was long but not difficult, except for the patches of snow and ice. The BF and I discussed how this hike was so much easier than our mountain lake hike the day before. Then we hit the ridge trail and I saw just how much farther we had to go to reach the summit. Our earlier claim debunked, the half mile from the saddle to the summit took nearly an hour and a half. I’m sure in the summer, it’s much quicker, but the ice and snow made for a slow finish. There was hardly any snow on the mountain, but you know how snow lingers on trails.

2013-10-07 13.02.30

The ridge trail to South Massive from the saddle. Snow conveniently exists only on the trail.

There are several false summits and the views on this hike are hard to beat.

2013-10-07 14.02.54

SUMMIT

SUMMIT!

What a great climb. Lots of variety, great views of Leadville, Mt. Elbert, and the Mosquito Range. We didn’t linger at the summit because of how slow the footing was and we wanted to make it to the car before dark. That said, we ran into a few idiots on the way down who were a good three to four hours behind us and didn’t even bring lights. Seriously considered alerting forest service, but it was closed due to the government shut-down.

2013-10-07 14.02.48

View to the west of Massive.

All in all, one of my favorite hikes due to how long and challenging it was. When we finally finished, we stopped at Two Guns Distillery for a shot of whiskey — a proverbial tipping of the hat to VHTRC.

Staying in Colorado for a week? I recommend Quandry Peak for an easier 14er; the “Presidentials”: Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross, Missouri Lakes in Holy Cross Wilderness (an excellent 14 mile loop); and Deluge Lake in Eagle’s Nest wilderness.


1 Comment

The Wild Oak Trail (TWOT)

2013-06-29 14.41.29
 
Type: Loop
Length: 27.3 miles 
Elevation Gain: 7,238 ft.
Time: > 12 hours
Grade: A-
Parking lot

How long have I wanted to do a loop of TWOT? Years. In my first attempt, my friend Brian and I wanted to run it, and left DC at 3:30 a.m. When he started seeing double, we pulled off the highway and into a parking lot for a 10 minute nap, and then woke up three hours later. Whoops.

I had planned to hike it year after year around the summer solstice (knowing I’d need the daylight), but it just never happened! Finally, this year was it. The weekend of solstice I was ready to go with weeks of solid PT and running behind me, a rental car and hotel room in Harrisonburg booked… and then I got sick. But, the BF and I refused to put it off for another year and we were able to fit it in the weekend after solstice.

At 6:00 a.m., we picked up bagels from Mr. J‘s for lunch and then each had two McDonald’s sausage biscuits for breakfast. We used the Trails Illustrated map for Staunton/Shenandoah Mountain and went counterclockwise.

I approached this hike as I would approach an ultra: Screw time and mileage, just accept that I’ll be out there all day. I broke the hike up mentally by climbs: (1) Climb up Little Bald Knob and reach Camp Todd, (2) Climb up to Big Bald Knob and down the Dividing Ridge trail; (3) Climb up and over Hankey mountain; (4) Saddle over to Lookout Mountain and back down to the parking lot. (Is saddle a verb? I’ve decided it is.)

There is not one great view on this hike. No exciting summits await you to make it worth the climb. But, the country is gorgeous and the trails are grueling.

2013-06-29 10.21.04

Last time I climbed up to Little Bald Knob, it was midnight and I had just spent 6 hours running. It was really awful and I hated it. But this time around, fresh, it was quite wonderful. It’s a seven-mile climb (took about 3 hours), but it’s pretty undulating and at points, downright gentle. At the top of the climb, we ate a bagel and took our packs off. It was a perfect day and not yet hot. The three mile descent to Camp Todd/the North River was pleasant and easy. Here, I filled my extra bottle with water, though I never needed it.

The climb up and into Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness (one of my favorite places in VA to hike) was really steep and not easy — 1,775 ft. in roughly 2.5 miles. It was getting hotter outside, which didn’t help. But, it was so green and beautiful, we stopped for a bar and nuts and enjoyed the wilderness portion of the hike.

2013-06-29 12.56.43

So, I’ve done the Dividing Ridge Trail by accident in the past while trying to do a loop in the wilderness area. I know that one needs to look out for a left turn to get there, but I still can’t figure it out! I’ve even done the Ramsey’s loop in reverse and couldn’t figure it out. But, after  Big Bald Knob you’ll come to a pond, and the trail will go around the pond to the left, and then turn left to Dividing Ridge. I don’t know where the Ramsey’s trail goes from there.

Dividing Ridge is a really steep descent. I had two liters of water in my pack, and right about here is where I got low. We planned on filling up at Mitchell Branch, which follows the left on the trail. You will find a side trail to the stream between two mounds, or tank traps, on the trail, and it goes down to a waterfall of sorts. It’s said to be pretty dependable and it’s a great place to fill up your pack. A little over a mile later, you will cross FR 96 and start up Hankey.

The difficulty of Hankey mountain took me by surprise — it goes straight up, no switchbacks. It was also sandy (so, slippery) and longer than I expected. While the climb was hot, steep and grueling, we made up time on the fire road to Lookout. It was getting quite late in the afternoon, so we stayed quiet, hoping to see some wildlife. An adolescent black bear corkscrewed down a tree and took off within our sight!

2013-06-29 13.13.16

The trail has been re-routed around Lookout Mountain — this added miles and subtracted from the hike’s elevation gain. The signage to FR 95 was off with the re-route but until that point, the signage on the trail was correct. The new trail was a little too manicured for TWOT, and still rocky. We weren’t sure how many miles were added and I kept waiting for the steep descent to happen. Soon, the heavens opened and it poured and thundered for exactly one mile. I took off my hat, and held my head back — it felt incredible to have cool rainwater wash the day’s sweat and grime off my face. The rain slowed us down on this rocky section.

They’ve also added a bridge over the North River, which was unexpected, and after the rain, a nice surprise. The rain started up again as we made our way back to the side trail from the parking lot. We finished in 12:18 (my worst marathon time ever) and I felt really good. It was a fantastic day in the woods!

After, we went to Jack Brown’s and sat outside on the patio, downing burgers and beer. I had their Elvis burger with mayo, peanut butter and bacon — oh yes. It was SO tasty, almost as good as my Breck 471. If you pass through Harrisonburg without visiting this bar, you are really missing out.


2 Comments

Black Mountains: Mount Craig

20130525_150235Type: Loop
Length: 14.7 (including the out-and-back to White Star)
Elevation Gain: >5,000 Feet
Time: 9 hours, including lunch
Grade: B+
Parking Lot

I’ve hiked to the top of Mount Mitchell: A roughly 17-mile loop that approaches what is really a knob from the south. Once we reached 5,500 feet, we entered a fir and red spruce forest that blew my mind. The well-worn trail was surrounded by bright green moss and red spruce, giving the light a magical quality. I half-expected pixies to fly out of the trees and sprinkle more fairy dust (mica) onto the sparkly trail.

But once we hit the top, the trail exited onto asphalt. From here, if one is really tired, he or she can take a golf cart to the summit, where there is an observatory tower. Head down to road to find restrooms, a concession stand and a parking lot. I even overheard a tourist say that they “really ought to do something about this bug problem.”

The Black Mountains are the the highest on the east coast and can be really rugged. So, on this trip to Asheville, we really wanted to get onto the Blacks while avoiding tourists on our hike — we get enough of them in Washington! We decided on a 14.5 mile loop from the west, to Mount Craig, the knob above Mitchell, expecting to avoid the Mitchell traffic; but we were wrong. This is a real challenging hike with over 5,000 feet of elevation gain, but the ridge was crowded with ATVs and tourists who started at the Mount Mitchell parking lot. The tourists are the worst because most of them lack any trail etiquette skills. Yeah, if you’ve started from the parking lot, I’m judging you right now. So, solitude hovers right above 0 for this hike, but the crowd can probably be avoided if you choose to do this hike in the winter or on a weekday.

We created this hike using the Trails Illustrated map for Linville Gorge/ Mount Mitchell.

Before starting the hike, head to City Bakery in downtown Asheville. Be sure to get there roughly 5 minutes before they open, when a short line will probably already have formed. Get a bagel, easily one of the best bagels you’ll ever have, a cold sandwich to carry in your pack, and one or two of their fruit granola bars (we always get strawberry or raspberry). The best thing about visiting Asheville is how good you’ll eat/drink — even when hiking!

tumblr_mh0krdPznH1qlvie8o3_500

Colbert, indicating exactly where you’ll feel this section.

Colberts Ridge Trail

Follow for 3.6 miles. Turn right on the Black Mountain Crest Trail to Summit White Star Mountain (adds one mile) or turn left toward Mount Craig.

The trailhead for the Colberts Ridge Trail was roughly an hour from downtown Asheville via I-26 and routes 19 and 80. Turn right on Colbert’s Creek Road and the parking lot was on the right. There was only space for 4 vehicles. The yellow-blazed Colbert Ridge Trail is easy to follow, but it’s a difficult, steady climb with 3,000 feet in 3.6 miles. If you prefer an easy climb and steep descent, you can do this loop in reverse, but I’d rather work on the way up. From there, we turned right to summit White Star mountain. This out-and-back section of the ridge was empty and windy, we put our long-sleeved shirts back on — in May! White Star offered some great views, and it was only a half mile from the turn. This section offered an extra 500 feet of elevation gain, just in case 4,500 feet isn’t enough for you!

After, we returned to Colberts Trail but continued straight on the Black Mountain Crest Trail.

20130525_145755

Black Mountain Crest Trail

Continue 2.7 miles to Mount Craig. Retrace steps to Big Tom trail, follow and turn left to connect to the Buncombe Horse Trail.

The Crest Trail is not a a fast ridge trail: The footing is tricky and it’s the epitome of undulating. It’s also really crowded. Between Colberts Ridge and Mount Craig, there are several knobs to summit, which was really quite fun. Note the Big Tom trail on your left, which you will take to the Buncombe Horse Trail. We took the ridge trail all the way to Mt. Craig and then headed back to the Big Tom trail and turned right. The Big Tom trail was a very steep descent to Buncombe.

20130525_114048Buncombe Horse Trail

Continue 6.3 miles on Buncombe Horse Trail. Follow gravel road to Colbert’s Creek Road. Turn right and take first left to stay on Colbert’s Creek Road. Continue to parking lot.

This section of the Buncombe horse trail was, at times, very rough. There were sections through berry bushes and rhododendron that were super tight (Those berries might be a bit dangerous in the summer!), which made the trail slow. This was a long section, but a nice, gradual downhill. It’s a shame that such a  beautiful hike has to end on a road, but man will you be happy to see it!

20130525_171901

Done with the hike. Head to Jack in the Wood for a burger or White Duck Taco (call ahead, they have odd hours and can run out of food.) Then, I suggest drinking deer and eating chocolate until you’ve passed out. You deserve it.


Leave a comment

Signal Knob

After volunteering at Camp Roosevelt for MMT 100 for roughly 12 hours on Saturday, I slept in till 9 a.m. on Sunday and had a great breakfast at Little Grill in Harrisonburg. We (me and the boyfriend) had decided to do a fast hike on the way back to Washington. When choosing the hike, we were expecting to get a late start to the day while still wanting to fit in a trip to Target and get the rental car back in time. So, we decided on a 9 mile lollipop hike up to Signal Knob, the Little Passage Creek hike on Hiking Upward. It says 10 miles, but my GPS was only at 9.1 when we finished.

This was a fast hike, we were able to get it done in less than 3.5 hours, even with stopping for lunch. Since a lot of the hike is on forest road, it has very easy footing. I’ve only been to Signal Knob during Elizabeth’s Furnace 50k (trail directions here) and the views up to the knob from the parking lot are definitely better. We got a couple of nice views across the valley on this one, plus the overlook from the top, but that was it.

A nice, fast hike, but if you’re going to climb up to Signal Knob, this hike is way better!


1 Comment

Bear Church Rock

920075_970318696396_1876099838_o

I haven’t been on a group hike in ages and I should really make it out to them more! Last weekend, me and one old, three new friends drove out to SNP for a day hike. It was an 8 mile out and back with about 2,000 ft of climbing. We skipped the half-mile out and back to a cabin, but it is posted on hiking upward as an 8.5 mile hike.

The Graves Mill parking lot was a solid two hours from Washington and ended up closer to three with traffic on the return trip. There is a Sheetz close to the parking area, so we grabbed snacks (and returning, washed up) there.

The parking lot and trail were pretty crowded. There were several groups and couples on the trail, and so we rarely went 20 minutes without seeing other people. Since I was with a group myself, the lack of solitude didn’t really bother me. The trail starts out along a beautiful stream with gentle waterfalls and then starts climbing pretty good. The trail is fast and in excellent shape, very few technical sections. We got to see a bunch of wildflowers, but this hike is probably best in early summer when the mountain laurel are in bloom; there were quite a few laurel tunnels.

The forest was very young with skinny, short trees but also lots of fern and green underbrush–very pretty! And the view from Bear Rock was pretty fantastic. (See photo above.)

This would be a great running trail since it’s in such good shape and the climb isn’t too bad, with a few nice flat sections along the stream. There were some single-track sections, but also a lot of wide trail so that friends can hike/run side-by-side, which was nice! It was definitely an easy hike and great for groups and beginners. Even with a group of five, and stopping for lunch, we kept our average pace at 2 miles per hour — which is hard for group hiking. That said, we did take our time going up and then sped down the mountain. The non-technical trail made it a very fast return down the mountain.

I tend to avoid SNP because it’s more crowded, but it’s so much closer to Washington than most of the GW forest and it does have some great trails. I really should give more of them a try!

 


Leave a comment

Big Bend National Park: Emory Peak, Marufo Vega and Mesa de Anguila

MesadeAnguilar14

The third part of our trip, after a stop in Marfa, TX, was Big Bend National Park. We stayed at a lodge outside the park, just minutes from the western entrance. Each day, we ate at the Chisos Lodge in the park’s popular basin and then sat on their patio reading and drinking beer while the sun set. Life really doesn’t get any better than this.

suset

ChisosMtns3

Emory Peak

ChisosMtns9Emory Peak is the highest point in the park and there are several different loops from which to choose. We did a 15.5 mile loop after a two hour drive in from Alpine, TX that morning. We chose to take the Pinnacle trail from the visitor’s center/lodge, the spur trail to the summit, the Boot Spring trail, which became the Boot Canyon trail to the southwest rim, and then back via the Laguna Meadow trail. Overall, it took almost 7 and a half hours with a 20 minute lunch, and plenty of stops for photos and chatting with other hikers — we even met a couple from DC!

ChisosMtns8

I’m glad that we made it to the top of the park and the views from the rim were incredible and dramatic, but this was my least favorite hike in Big Bend. The trail was very manufactured: It was an easy trail (except that we did 3,500 feet of elevation gain), crowded, over-signed, and there were TOILETS. Also, looking down at the basin and seeing a hotel ruined the whole “being in the wilderness” thing. However, the spur trail to Emory Peak was pretty empty and there was a serious, albeit somewhat dangerous, rock scramble to the top. I recommend dropping your pack and hiking poles before attempting, and leave them at the bottom, not half-way up, or, like me, you may come down a different way and then have to spend 10 minutes looking for them. Whoops. You should get a TI map of the park to help plan your loop.

MarufoVega10

Marufo Vega Trail

This, my friends, is now on my list of top ten trails that I’ve ever hiked. At the extreme southeast of the park, it was remote and challenging. This 14.5 mile lollipop trail included over 3,700 feet of elevation gain — up canyons and down to riverbeds. It was undulating and very hot — I drank all 3 liters that I was carrying (twice as much as a normal hike this length in VA) and there was no shade. Zero. This was the only type of tree on the trail:

MarufoVega4

We started this hike way later than we should have and it was well over 90 degrees when we finished. I applied sunscreen every hour and a half as if my life depended on it, and that silly looking sunhat was a godsend. By the end of the hike, I was dying for some shade. Helloooo desert!

MarufoVega12

MarufoVega18The hike was very well-marked with cairns regularly placed on the trail. It started on a wash, which was the most difficult part to navigate. From there, the trail goes up-and-down canyons to the Rio Grande. Along the river, there was something bellowing on the Mexican side. After a bout of YouTube searches afterward, I think it was a cow that must have somehow injured itself. The bellowing echoed through the canyon and was very eerie, especially since we hadn’t seen anyone all day.

Also, this is as close as I’ll get to a Mexican beach on vacation.

We found the remains of a hoofed animal on the sand close to the river. There were mostly bones left, so it looked like the local mountain lion had quite the meal.

MarufoVega14

Once we climbed up out of the riverbed, we saw something hanging out below. As we got closer, we realized it was a donkey!

Apparently there is a rancher across the border who fails to keep his animals enclosed. This answered our questions about the remains that we found earlier. After climbing a steep, dramatic, canyon, we came across three more on the trail who just wouldn’t move! After some serious hollering, they finally took off and watched as we passed them.

This was a challenging hike and by the end I was ready for some shade and ice water. The 14.5 mile trail took 7 hours, 22 minutes, with a short lunch (hiding under a rock because it was the only shade). Be smart and start at sunrise. By the end of the hike, I had drank 5 liters of water that day and I’m 5’2″. I recommend starting the hike very hydrated and carry as much water as possible.

MesadeAnguilar2

Mesa De Anguila

MesadeAnguilar13This trail is located in the extreme western end of the park. It starts at, I’m not kidding, a golf resort outside the park. There is now a parking area for hikers and directions to the trail head, which is off the road a bit. The parking lot is on Comanche Mesa Drive in Lajitas, TX. NPS recommends a quadrant map for this trail, but we never used it. We did a 15.5 mile out and back, turning left at the one fork and walked until we saw a great view of Santa Elena Canyon. Once we decided that we wouldn’t get any new views, we turned around. There was just under 2,000 ft of elevation gain and the trail was well-marked and in good condition.

MesadeAnguilar7We learned our lesson and started this hike as the sun was starting to rise. It meant that I was very alert and on the lookout for a mountain lion, but we never saw one. After about a mile in the wash is the hike’s only real climb up the canyon, which is short but steep. After that we enjoyed a flat trail on the mesa, which was covered in bright and beautiful wildflowers! What a perfect time of the year to visit! At the fork, we turned left. The trailed winded around steep, dramatic cliffs and offered incredible views of the river. The early start made a huge difference and I wasn’t nearly as fried at the end as I was after Marufo Vega. It was a gentle trail, though heading down the steep canyon was very technical. We only saw two people on the hike, as well as a, uh… golf course… in the desert. WTF?

Solid hike, though if the wildflowers weren’t out it would have been a little boring.


1 Comment

Guadalupe Mountains National Park: Guadulpe Peak, McKittrick Canyon and The Bowl

The boyfriend and I spent three days day-hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park while spending the evening in nearby Carlsbad, NM.

Advice for Carlsbad: The lodges there looked grim, so pick a chain hotel (the Super 8 wasn’t bad but use priceline). Trinity Hotel’s restaurant is overpriced and the food isn’t great, but still the best place in town. I wish that we had gone to Yellowbrix for dinner the second night, but it looked overpriced. However, their gelato was quite good. The best thing in Carlsbad was Blue House Bakery and Cafe — great local vibe, good food, and surprisingly good coffee. Make sure that you get there super-early before a line forms or you’ll start your hike very late in the day.

Guadalupe Peak

This was a scenic, technical, 9 mile hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas (8,479′). There is a horse trail option to avoid the steep climbing in the first mile and a half: We made a great decision to take the horse trail on the return trip, which added about .6 miles to the hike, but also a great little trek along an arroyo. I’m also not a huge fan of steep descents.

In the first 4.25 miles, you’ll climb 3,000 feet — a great climb along cliffs with fantastic, ever-changing scenery. The trail was well-used (and more crowded than I expected) and very easy to follow, but there are trail directions available at nps.gov and there is a Trails Illustrated map of the park available online and at the visitor’s center. Speaking of which, there is a utility sink there to fill up your water bladder, clean bathrooms to wash up in, and a small store to buy postcards!

McKittrickCyn1

McKittrick Canyon

This is a five-star hike that immediately went on my list of favorites. It was a 15.5 mile out-and-back with a technical, challenging trail, a good climb, sweeping canyon views and variety. The incredible, dramatic views and cliffs made up for the fact that it was an out-and-back (my least favorite type of hike), crowded for the first three miles and nearly straight up, straight down (as opposed to undulating).

The canyon is in a “day use area,” meaning that the gates open at 8:00 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m. in winter at 6:00 p.m. in summer. We made the 6:00 p.m. close by 10 minutes, so keep that in mind when you decide where to turn around. The descent is so technical that it’s actually quite slow — do not plan on making up a lot of time on the descent.

McKittrickCyn15The first three and a half miles of this hike are flat but unfortunately somewhat slow due to NPS’s trail maintenance — apparently they thought small, round rocks would make for a good trail. Instead, your ankles will get quite the workout while you try to take this section quickly to make up time. You start immediately with dramatic canyon views — I have yet in all my internet-searching found a photo that does this hike justice. It’s also crowded for the first three miles, but once we passed the Grotto picnic area, we didn’t see a soul.

The climb to the ridge is long, slow and technical. This is a well-maintained, easy to follow trail, but very technical. The rock formations, cliffs, shark fins and narrow saddles are all dramatic and breathtaking. (Sorry if I’m laying this on too thick but I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere so beautiful!)

McKittrickCyn18We also never had any idea where we were going. I kept thinking we were at the top until we turned another corner. Once we got near the top of one mountain, we circled it, crossed a narrow saddle, and kept climbing up its neighbor. We passed our destined turn-around spot, a camp ground about 7 miles in, but decided to keep going in hopes of getting a new view. We decided to turn around at 7.7 miles.

As I mentioned, it was a slow descent that tested my IT-band and physical therapy, which I had been doing three times a week for two months at this point. I had to really focus on keeping my knees stable as I stepped off of rocks regularly for two hours. I highly recommend hiking poles for this part.

We had to rush through the last four miles to make it to the Jeep in time, but I wish I had more time to admire the scenery here. From the arroyo, the canyon is somehow more daunting and dramatic. Here again are the instructions from NPS, but will only take you to the Grotto. The TI map will take you further, but the trail is very easy to follow.

TheBowl7

The Bowl

Talk about variety! Here, you go from the desert up to a coniferous forest. Starting at the visitor’s center, where you should fill up your pack, follow the Frijole trail to the Bear Canyon trail.  There starts a 2500 foot climb up a canyon facing the dessert — it’s hot and steep but a good trail and not too technical. Once you reach the top, you can decide where to go.

We went around the “bowl,” turning right on the Bowl trail and curling left. And then we turned right to get the the Tejas trial to descend and get back to to the visitors trail. We only saw two other people on this hike and there were great views of the desert and of Guadalupe Peak. A solid hike!

TheBowl2

This was my first real desert hiking experience and I loved all the new flora: cacti, wildflowers, Madrones, and Juniper trees. (I made “my drones” jokes the entire trip: “What do you think make those indentations in the rock?” “Must have been mah drones.” I’m hilarious.)

I’m so glad we decided to do a hiking trip to Guadalupe — it’s a gorgeous, underrated park that I’m pretty sure includes the most beautiful part of Texas. McKittrick canyon ought to be as famous as Yosemite, but I’m glad it isn’t! The solitude made it all the more wonderful!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.