Guadalupe Mountain National Park. The highest peak in Texas at 8,657 feet. 87,000 acres of hiking terrain, made famous by the first Nevada Barr, Anna Pigeon novel “The Track of the Cat”. The first place we have ever found a Senior Ranger program to complement their Junior Ranger program. I love National Parks.
Guadalupe Mountain is peaked by El Capitan, a pre-historic reef that juts out from the Chihuahuan Desert floor. I always thought El Capitan was at Yosemite, but not true, it is very distinctive and forbidding here in west Texas too. 110 miles north east of El Paso along the 62/180 lies the reef known as the Guadalupe Mountains. Few roads pass through this area, this is a true hiker’s park.
We stopped off at Frijole Ranch and Josh and I hiked the 2.3 miles (what seemed like all uphill) to the escarpment that housed Smith Springs, an oasis surrounded by broad leaf maples and firs. A spring that bubbles up in to a small fifteen foot pond that is as crystal clear as you will ever find. Six springs are found in a three mile square area within the National Park boundaries, an area that was fought for by many over the years since water is such a scarcity in this area.
A return stop at the Visitor’s Center to spend a little bit of time with Hector and Sarah, Josh was out of there with his third Junior Ranger badge and I had obtained my first Senior Ranger badge. These are some of the best programs within the parks system, it’s all well and good to tour the parks and read the info, but if you really want to retain some information, do the programs. It’s a chance to really learn about the place. Not many of the parks have Senior Ranger programs, so I was happy to participate. The book was a little tougher than the Junior Ranger book, but not that much, just a way to get to know the park a little better. Try it, it’s fun.