It is quickly visible that the Guadalupe Peak Trail is a well established and maintained trail. These log steps make climbing safer but really work on your thighs.
On the dark side of the mountain, there is still some pretty deep snow on the trail. In some places, the packed snow from people's trekking was so deep, it came to my knee.
This is El Captain from the north. The view from the south on the highway is a common view, but this one isn't seen by quite as many people. You can see the highway on the far left of the photo.
The peak is a good place to sit and think, so, I did. When I made it to the peak, there were quite a few people up there too, but after about thirty minutes, all of them left. I was the last one on the peak. Alone on the top of Texas...
All the rocks, sticks, and dirt was "highly protected" in the national park. A pamphlet I read strictly warned me not to take anything out of the park, so I had to take photos instead. There were shiny rocks like this everywhere.
This is a foot bridge between my camp spot and the peak.
Beautiful red leaves lined the trail side. I couldn't help but take a photo of the highly contrasting colors.
Before I packed, I decided I was going to be more minimalist than usual. This is what I came up with. A tarp with two trash bags taped together to make an ultralight bivy. Turns out, that bivy captures too much moisture inside and makes my sleeping bag wet. It was a good try though.
Which way does the wind blow?
After setting up camp, I hiked back up to the peak to take some sunset photos. Here is a photo of the nearly setting sun through some brush where I decided to hunker down out of the wind while I waited.
It was windy and cold on the peak at sunset, but well worth the view. I am trying to hide from the wind by standing next to the monument to American Airlines. It is shaped like a triangle, so it doesn't work great, but it helped. (Unedited photo!)
The sunset just got better and better. Here you can see the con-trail of an airliner leaving El Paso, Texas, shimmering in the sun's light.
The sun continued to get closer to the horizon, but didn't move fast enough. It was really cold. I think the cold makes for good photos though.
Self Portrait. I was keeping my hands warmish while watching the sun creep toward the horizon. I was eager to see is set so I could get walking back to camp and hopefully stop my near hypothermic convulsions. It was cold.
The sun finally made it to the horizon! Soon after this, I was booking it back down the mountain for about thirty minutes.
Here's my dark trail back to camp. Dusk was waning, the ground was freezing over, and I was booking it.
After a not-so-restful night sleep, I was greeted with a spectacular sunrise right outside my sleeping bag.
I like oak. :)
Here's a goofy looking plant I noticed while on my hike back down the mountain on Sunday, headed back to my truck. I don't know what it is, but it is definitely different.
I followed these deer down the trail for a short while in the early morning. When I whistled, they would turn around and look at me. Those are big ears! They didn't seem to care about the rules that said not to cut switchbacks. I think they will get away with it though.