• Driving to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas, and Photographing the Gypsum Dunes
I left very early to make the nine-hour drive to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas. I arrived early enough to get the key to the gate that allowed me to photograph the gypsum dunes on the west end of the park. There are four keys to the gate, but I had the only one checked out, so I was entirely alone.
I set up camp in the Pine Springs Campground and discovered I had excellent cellular service, so I talked to my girlfriend Abby for over an hour.
With two deer right next to my tent watching, I made a two-hour star trace photo.
• El Capitan Trail and Smith Spring Trail
I hiked the El Capitan Trail, where I met a guy named John from San Antonio, who told me he was training for the Appalachian Trail. I hiked with him for a couple of hours.
I hiked the Smith Spring Trail in the afternoon, and made fair images on both.
Back in camp, I saw John again, who had noticeable sunburn on one side of his face. He told me, “The mountain won.”
I was warned of a forecast for 60mph winds for the night, so I broke camp and headed to Carlsbad.
• Carlsbad Caverns and Sitting Bull Falls
I took the Natural Entrance at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and made some decent pictures, since I had my tripod.
When I wrote this, I was 39. The last time I saw Carlsbad Caverns, my parents were 39.
I drove a long, lonely county road to Sitting Bull Falls in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico.
• Guadalupe Peak
I hiked to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. It was, as the Park Service claims, strenuous, ascending about 3000 feet from the trailhead to an elevation of 8749. It was hazy all day, but still very fun. I called Abby from the top.