Mackeys Meander the Magnificent, our Junior Ranger Adventures.
Somehow…I got it in my head that The Guadalupe Mountain National Park was actually a forest.
I see the words…
I presumed, we would be hiking through the woods…even though the words said to my head were totally different. Sometimes, my translator just doesn’t work! The Hairy One says mountains and I hear woods and don’t totally realize what we are doing until the adventure is a go. Case and point.
The easy part!
Check out that bark! Nothing gets by this kid.
The always lovely park ranger at the desk let us know the initial part of the hike would be mostly flat, the second half of the hike would be fun boulder climbing. I took a look at the pictures she displayed. I smiled. The information, to the naked eye, appeared to be computing…
“Are we heading up there, mom?”
Keeping spirits high.
We voyaged on with smiles on our faces and skips in our steps. It was hot (Obvs!), we were prepared. (So we thought…) The water was packed. The path was mostly clear…until it wasn’t.
Scouting the trail…or posing…
The Hairy One says, this is the part of the hike where we head to the river…which is now a dry bed and follow it all the way to Devil’s Hall. Cool! Yes! We love rock climbing. Let’s take some more pictures.
We’ve got you!
Good thing we packed our hiking sticks!
Alas, all seemed hunky dory until we realized that we had miles to go. And, the rocks we were climbing were just that, rocks. The trail primarily was made up of boulders…like…the really, really big ones!
Alright then nature…let’s do this.
We were through the “mostly flat” part of the trail and onto the rock climbing part of the hike…in the heat of the day…once again, in the Chihuahuan Desert. It was awesome! It was exhausting. It was lunch time…and I forgot the snacks!
Just keep climbing!
We thought we had already scaled the largest rocks nature could muster…until we met the home of the devil himself.
This is one of those things that feels much bigger IRL.
Following the lead of the fearless…without fully formed brains but lots of heart. We ascended!
Stuck in the mud?
Ladies, gentlemen and all others, now is the time in the blog where I remind you of a standard rule of physics…that I didn’t respect enough. What comes up, must come down.
Don’t worry! We had a “catcher” at the bottom.
They made it look easy. I’m not going to mention any names…but a few of us reallly struggled here.
Did you grub?
No! We didn’t. Not for HOURS! I forgot the snacks in the car. The 4 mile hike felt more like 40 since we were changing elevation so extremely and rapidly. I mean…we did have sandwiches at the picnic table in the visitor center parking lot after we survived the climb…but it really felt like a decade. Note to others: Do Not Do What We Did!
The gates of hell sure are lovely!
What did we dig the most?
Survival! I’m only kind of teasing. This climb on the whole was AWESOME! Sincerely, my favorite climb to date. It’s amazing how one small misstep (like not packing snacks!) can really humble a person and make the coolest climb feel like a fight for survival. There are no roads in the Guadalupe Mountains Wilderness, all travel is by foot or horseback. The amount of curious vegetation made it almost feel curated in its’ perfection. I never would have thought trees could naturally graft like that!
Those kids are cute but check out those TREES!!!
We saw tree trunks that were smooth, green, leathery, marbled, papery and red all within a few feet from one another. The extremeness of the climb required we take our time. The abundant rests between our trips up and down gave us ample time to gaze off, look a little closer, think a little deeper….or, not at all. We found all the flowers and shouted out the colors.
Pink! Someday we’ll learn all their names. 😉
Saw all the lizards and hustled to catch a glimpse even if was just the last tip of tail. And, we even found a few friends along the trail. (Human friends, that is!) We all kept track of one another and we knew who to shake down if our want for trail snacks ever became a need.
This trail was not for the faint-hearted. We are a pretty active family and it we really needed to dig deep to find our strength, our drive, our chutzpa. We stretched…in every sense of the word. We melted down, wiped off our tears and kept on going (after some tending to and hugs!). We took large leaps from big boulders and grew more confident. We took our kiddos hands when they asked and let them go it alone when they didn’t. We watched them do many dangerous things safely and it felt good. As grown-ups, we asked for help. We said our sorrys when needed…and there were some needed. (Here I go back to the snacks again!) We grappled. We cheered. We set out looking for one thing, found something totally different and declared it better. Our greatest challenge became our greatest reward.
Travel together for safety, friends!
Here are the up to date details. Have fun!