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Finding Connection within Desolation
July 7, 2017
High Point: Guadalupe Peak (Texas)
Elevation: 8,749 feet
Starting Point: Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Total Miles: 8.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,038 feet
Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas. It is a little over 100 miles east of El Paso and the border of Mexico. In my opinion, the northwestern region of Texas is the epitome of loneliness and desolation. I drove for almost 100 miles without seeing a single opened business. Most of what I drove past was flat nothingness and then every now and then I would pass what used to be a town (aka, a few dilapidated stone buildings). Guadalupe Peak resides within Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which is the most underdeveloped national park I have ever visited. There is a visitor center, a self-serve camping and hiking registration booth and a bathroom. That is it. It is amazing how calm and at ease I feel when surrounded by such simplicity. In fact, I felt less alone within this isolated part of the United States than I do in a bustling city of over half a million people.
When I am on the trail and surrounded by nature I feel spiritually and physically connected. I feel anything but alone. While hiking in the national park, I stumbled upon a female deer sunning herself in a dry ravine. I stopped and stared at her for a few minutes until my foot shifted and the noise startled her. In that moment, we locked eyes, something I would never do with a person, let alone a complete stranger. Most people are unpredictable and difficult for me to understand. Nature on the other hand makes sense to me.
Others who have the same appreciation of simplicity and the natural world tend to scare me less than the average human. This was the case for the wonderful people I met at the campgrounds in the Guadalupe National Park. While I was sitting on my crash pad coloring my “Color Me Calm” coloring book, I was approach by a 71 year old man who was also living out of his vehicle. He referred to us as free spirits that others think of as being crazy. In response I said, “I think anyone who can sit in front of a TV for hours every day are more bat shit crazy then we’ll ever be.” He got a good laugh out of that and wholeheartedly agreed. He was a former special education teacher in a small football focused community in Texas. It felt nice to connect with another human being within my element, especially one who worked in the same field as I do.
After our convo, I put down the coloring book and started reading. This is when a British woman approached me offering a book that she just finished reading. Minutes beforehand, I passed her and her husband sunning themselves next to their RV while listening to classical music and thought to myself that I wish I could get to know those people. Everyone has a story, which I am fascinated to know. However, I am particularly interested by the stories of those who are enjoying the same areas as me, but come from vastly different places. Regardless, we had a great conversation and I thanked her for the book. I had more interaction with these temporary neighbors than I have had with any neighbor I have ever had.
Anyways, I summited the highest point in Texas. It was a lovely hike. Some spots were a little exposed, but it was not technical or scary in the least bit. The elevation gain was gradual and it was just the right length. I enjoy hiking in the desert so much more than in forested areas. Sure I got burnt to a crisp, but I was granted with views of the surrounding mountains, wildlife and desert the entire time!
Food: I stopped at a small roadside Mexican restaurant on my way back to New Mexico and thoroughly enjoyed two Carne Asada tacos with shredded cabbage and green salsa with a side of rice and beans. I could eat Mexican food every day. Yum!