Chihuahua, April 2003

El Capitan Peak on the southern end of the Guadalupe Mountains, stands majestically in evening light.
El Capitan Peak on the southern end of the Guadalupe Mountains, stands majestically in evening light.
Gypsum Dunes, Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Gypsum Dunes, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

• 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.

Gypsum dunes at last light
Gypsum dunes at last light

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.

Agave lines the El Capitan trail.
Agave lines the El Capitan trail.
El Capitan with Wildflowers
El Capitan with Wildflowers

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 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; made some decent pictures, since I had my tripod.

Carlsbad Caverns natural entrance
Carlsbad Caverns natural entrance

I drove a long, lonely county road to Sitting Bull Falls in the Lincoln National Forest west of the Carlsbad area.

As I write this, I’m 39. The last time I saw Carlsbad Caverns, my parents were 39.

Sitting Bull Falls
Sitting Bull Falls

• Guadalupe Peak

Posing with Postal Service marker, Guadalupe Peak
Posing with Postal Service marker, 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.

After sunset, Pine Springs campground
After sunset, Pine Springs campground

Overall, I had an exceptional trip, and I felt like I accomplished all my goals.

Watch the Chihuahua movie here…

Additional images:

Stalactities and stalagmites, Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Stalactities and stalagmites, Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Carlsbad's famous "soda straw" formation.
Carlsbad’s famous “soda straw” formation.
Lone Gazebo on the road to Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico
Lone Gazebo on the road to Sitting Bull Falls, New Mexico
Contrails over Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Contrails over Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Sitting Bull Falls
Sitting Bull Falls
On the Guadalupe Peak Trail
On the Guadalupe Peak Trail
Putnam, Texas
Putnam, Texas
Looking South from Salt Flat, Texas
Looking South from Salt Flat, Texas
Looking Northeast from Salt Flat, Texas
Looking Northeast from Salt Flat, Texas
Postal Marker and Cirrus Clouds, Guadalupe Peak
Postal Marker and Cirrus Clouds, Guadalupe Peak
Abandoned filling station south of Whites City, New Mexico.
Abandoned filling station south of Whites City, New Mexico.
Air Power Museum, Midland, Texas
Air Power Museum, Midland, Texas
Air Power Museum, Midland, Texas
Air Power Museum, Midland, Texas
Gypsum dunes, Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Gypsum dunes, Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Gypsum dunes and setting sun.
Gypsum dunes and setting sun.
Light and shadow, gypsum dunes.
Light and shadow, gypsum dunes.
Yucca, gypsum dunes.
Yucca, gypsum dunes.
Grass and dunes as sunset approaches.
Grass and dunes as sunset approaches.
El Capitan Peak viewed from the U. S. 180 turnout, morning.
El Capitan Peak viewed from the U. S. 180 turnout, morning.
Looking west from Guadalupe Mountains National Park at distant mountains, sunset.
Looking west from Guadalupe Mountains National Park at distant mountains, sunset.
Fisheye view, gypsum dunes and Guadalupe Mountains, sunset.
Fisheye view, gypsum dunes and Guadalupe Mountains, sunset.
The gypsum dunes viewed from atop Guadalupe Peak, the high point of Texas.
The gypsum dunes viewed from atop Guadalupe Peak, the high point of Texas.
Hunter Peak.
Hunter Peak, which is across Pine Spring Canyon to the north from Guadalupe Peak.
Manzanita Spring and Nipple Hill.
Manzanita Spring and Nipple Hill.
El Capitan and Sky, Last Light
El Capitan and Sky, Last Light

 

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