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Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« on: September 14, 2018, 04:37:22 PM »
Bad summer for our family, in which we greatly exceeded the RSA (recommended seasonal allowance) for funerals, mostly of old, close friends who died far too young, mostly of cancer. RIP. Not something we hope to repeat anytime soon.

We cancelled our regular summer trip to the beaches of Port Aransas, and instead convinced mom to join the Guadalupe Peak club. I've been there at least half-a-dozen times, and I got both our kids up there on backpack trips before they hit five-years-old. Wife, who's not a backpacker, was the last. We squeezed a two day trip up the peak between two killer thunderstorms and apparently just barely missed Wrangler88 up top. After getting mom to the summit, we headed toward Carlsbad Caverns NP (which mom was also the last to visit) and spent three days exploring the delightfully constant 56 degrees at 700 feet under the surface of the Guadalupe Ridge.

My absolute favorite picture from the trip is of my now-16-year-old daughter re-enacting the photo we shot when I first took her backpacking up to the summit as a 4-year-old.

Two weeks later I came down with West Nile Virus and yesterday was the first time I've been out of bed since.  I'll be back. #dowhatyouwantbeforeit'stoolate
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2018, 04:38:32 PM »
Summit shot.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2018, 04:39:37 PM »
We decided this would be our next album cover.  ;)
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2018, 04:43:41 PM »
It nearly killer her, but in the end, she thanked me. That's my ancient Mountainsmith pack she's using.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2018, 04:46:20 PM »
One of the favorite parts of our vacation was the ranger-led, lantern-only tour of the deeper Carlsbad Left-hand Tunnel.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2018, 05:03:08 PM by House Made of Dawn »
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2018, 08:07:38 PM »
   Condolences to you for all of your loses. It does make you feel fortunate to be around to have a few more adventures. And it looks like you all made the most of it.
   My wife and I did a similar trip a couple of years ago - the first time to Guadalupe or Carlsbad for either of us. We did the peak, Mckitrick canyon, Smith Springs, the Grotto and Pratts cabin, and the old ranch/farm house visit. We loved the cavern and the evening bat exodus. Unique experience.  Is the oil business still booming out there ? Lots of truck traffic and folks at the motels and restaurants back then.
   Sorry to hear about the west nile and glad you were able to beat it. It can be some serious stuff. Are you back to full
speed ?
   Any more pics ?
    Vaya con Dios,,     Alan

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2018, 10:44:47 PM »
   Condolences to you for all of your loses. It does make you feel fortunate to be around to have a few more adventures. And it looks like you all made the most of it.
   My wife and I did a similar trip a couple of years ago - the first time to Guadalupe or Carlsbad for either of us. We did the peak, Mckitrick canyon, Smith Springs, the Grotto and Pratts cabin, and the old ranch/farm house visit. We loved the cavern and the evening bat exodus. Unique experience.  Is the oil business still booming out there ? Lots of truck traffic and folks at the motels and restaurants back then.
   Sorry to hear about the west nile and glad you were able to beat it. It can be some serious stuff. Are you back to full
speed ?
   Any more pics ?
    Vaya con Dios,,     Alan

Thanks, Alan!

The petrochemical biz is bigger than ever in that part of the country. I was shocked at the transformation from my last trip several years ago. Sitting in our campsite on the side of the peak, below the summit, we could see hundreds, maybe thousands, of lights twinkling among the plain to the east of the peak. Looked like a small city, but it was all petro facilities. Trucks were everywhere - driving safely, actually-  but they were still everywhere. The roads were choked. My old standby shortcut out of there and back toward Dallas - the Black River Road - is now called "The Highway of Death" by locals because of the number of industry-related fatalities due to the degradation of the roadbed through overuse. Eddy County can't seem to find the money to repair it. Hotel prices in Carlsbad are through the roof - well over $200/night, some as much as $400/night, while the lodges down the highway in White's City are going for as little as $100/night off-peak. That's certainly new to me. The rangers at Carlsbad said it was because of company block-buys in Carlsbad for their temporary petro workers.

Plenty more pics were taken, mostly my typical terrible ones. Especially down in the caverns. But probably none that anyone else would like to see. I had hoped to take several scouting shots of the view from the summit toward the next highest three peaks, Shumard, Bartlett, and Bush. My original hope had been that I'd take the family up to the peak, then send them back to our campsite below the summit, while I bagged the other three during the rest of the day and spending then night in the Bush Mountain campsite, with all of us meeting up the next afternoon down at our vehicle. With wet storm systems bracketing our trip, the weather was incredibly mild and I thought I could do it. But one look down that vicious, brush-choked slope from the summit of Guadalupe to the top of Shumard disabused me of any such silly ideas. We all went back to our campsite together, and then headed down the next day as a group.

That was my last foray into the wild for awhile. I'm nowhere close to full strength. In fact, I feel like I'm 90 years old. We're watching my symptoms to see if the virus jumps the blood-brain barrier. If not, then I should be back to up to speed in a month or two. Fingers crossed.  :victory:
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Jonathan Sadow

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2018, 01:06:33 AM »
The petrochemical biz is bigger than ever in that part of the country. I was shocked at the transformation from my last trip several years ago. Sitting in our campsite on the side of the peak, below the summit, we could see hundreds, maybe thousands, of lights twinkling among the plain to the east of the peak. Looked like a small city, but it was all petro facilities. Trucks were everywhere - driving safely, actually-  but they were still everywhere. The roads were choked. My old standby shortcut out of there and back toward Dallas - the Black River Road - is now called "The Highway of Death" by locals because of the number of industry-related fatalities due to the degradation of the roadbed through overuse. Eddy County can't seem to find the money to repair it. Hotel prices in Carlsbad are through the roof - well over $200/night, some as much as $400/night, while the lodges down the highway in White's City are going for as little as $100/night off-peak. That's certainly new to me. The rangers at Carlsbad said it was because of company block-buys in Carlsbad for their temporary petro workers.

You should check out nighttime satellite photos of the area.  You can distinguish Midland and Odessa easily enough, but there's a mass of lights to the west of them where no city of any substantial size exists.  Most of that light comes from oil rigs and associated oilfield activity.  The park is trying to become certified as a dark-sky site;  hopefully, the oilfield light won't imperil that designation.

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Plenty more pics were taken, mostly my typical terrible ones. Especially down in the caverns. But probably none that anyone else would like to see. I had hoped to take several scouting shots of the view from the summit toward the next highest three peaks, Shumard, Bartlett, and Bush. My original hope had been that I'd take the family up to the peak, then send them back to our campsite below the summit, while I bagged the other three during the rest of the day and spending then night in the Bush Mountain campsite, with all of us meeting up the next afternoon down at our vehicle. With wet storm systems bracketing our trip, the weather was incredibly mild and I thought I could do it. But one look down that vicious, brush-choked slope from the summit of Guadalupe to the top of Shumard disabused me of any such silly ideas. We all went back to our campsite together, and then headed down the next day as a group.

One of my goals for a future volunteer assignment in the park is to go up to Shumard and Bartlett Peaks to check on their summit registers.  As such, I've checked out various routes to get to them.  Access from Guadalupe Peak is hideously bad, due to the fact that the topography demands that one lose almost a thousand feet of altitude descending from Guadalupe Peak and then gaining almost all of that back ascending Shumard Peak.  It's been done, but I wouldn't recommend it.  If you do want to bag Shumard and Bartlett Peaks, do them as a hike from Bush Mountain campground.  Bush Mountain to Bartlett doesn't look difficult;  Bartlett to Shumard is a bit more taxing, but both should be doable as a day hike from Bush Mountain campsite.

Sorry to hear about your illness;  hopefully, by the end of the year you'll be as good as new (or at least as good as you were before you got sick...).

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2018, 09:08:05 AM »
Sorry to hear about your health. Hope things start looking up for you.

Sounded like a good trip. The two picture next to each other of you and your daughter were really cool. I didn't realize how young she was in the first picture. I've thought about taking my son out there. I know he would LOVE it. But I've always worried about rangers or other people telling me he is too young. Glad to see you two up there together when she was that young. Do you still remember how she did on that hike at that age? My son hikes quite a bit with me and loves it but he's never done any major elevation gain.

Glad to see you posting again.

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2018, 03:37:42 PM »

One of my goals for a future volunteer assignment in the park is to go up to Shumard and Bartlett Peaks to check on their summit registers.  As such, I've checked out various routes to get to them.  Access from Guadalupe Peak is hideously bad, due to the fact that the topography demands that one lose almost a thousand feet of altitude descending from Guadalupe Peak and then gaining almost all of that back ascending Shumard Peak.  It's been done, but I wouldn't recommend it.  If you do want to bag Shumard and Bartlett Peaks, do them as a hike from Bush Mountain campground.  Bush Mountain to Bartlett doesn't look difficult;  Bartlett to Shumard is a bit more taxing, but both should be doable as a day hike from Bush Mountain campsite.


Thanks, Jonathan. I'm sorry we missed each other when our family was in the Guadalupes. It would have been so much fun to run into each other up there. I got to read a bit of your volunteer adventures after we got back, but I was too sick to really enjoy them. I did note that our family met the leathery volunteer ranger that had done 200+ summits of Guadalupe Peak. That was just as we were descending the peak.

My interest was specifically in bagging all of the four highest peaks in one day. I've been on top of Guadalupe and Bush before, but never the other two. If I ever attempt that quadrifecta, I think I might go Bush-Bartlett-Shumard-Guadalupe....just because then I'd HAVE to get up that godawful Guadalupe slope if I wanted to get out of there alive. The thought of starting with that monster is just too depressing.

I'm looking forward to really drilling down into your Guadalupe posts. Kudos for the volunteer work, my friend!!!!!!
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline Solo

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2018, 04:30:36 PM »


One of my goals for a future volunteer assignment in the park is to go up to Shumard and Bartlett Peaks to check on their summit registers.  As such, I've checked out various routes to get to them. 

My recollection from this April is that both had registers of the peanut butter can and notebook type.

My interest was specifically in bagging all of the four highest peaks in one day. I've been on top of Guadalupe and Bush before, but never the other two. If I ever attempt that quadrifecta, I think I might go Bush-Bartlett-Shumard-Guadalupe....just because then I'd HAVE to get up that godawful Guadalupe slope if I wanted to get out of there alive. The thought of starting with that monster is just too depressing.

You would rather tackle that uphill after being fatigued by the "easy" traverses and climb thereto?  Eat the big frog first, I say.  But, I also say don't do the four tallest route at all when you can do them in two lesser climbs.  It looks even worse from Shumard, so at least be prepared to backtrack to Bush or descend to Devil's Hall when you get there.
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, and robes the mountain in its azure hue.  -Thomas Campbell

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #11 on: September 17, 2018, 02:20:03 PM »
The two pictures next to each other of you and your daughter were really cool. I didn't realize how young she was in the first picture. I've thought about taking my son out there. I know he would LOVE it. But I've always worried about rangers or other people telling me he is too young. Glad to see you two up there together when she was that young. Do you still remember how she did on that hike at that age? My son hikes quite a bit with me and loves it but he's never done any major elevation gain.

Thanks, Wrangler! That backpack up Guadalupe Peak twelve years ago with my 4-year-old daughther remains one of the highlights of my life. I think getting a young 'un like that up to the summit is really a matter of their (and your) attitude, rather than fitness. I bet you and your son could do it - and enjoy it.  That was the third time I'd brought my daughter out to the Guadalupes. The first was when she was two-years-old, and we just camped and hiked the lowlands in Spring. The next year, we camped there again during spring break and tried to dayhike to the summit; but we got turned back about half way up by a very nice LE Ranger who warned us of a bad storm coming up from the west side of the mountain (my daughter STILL remembers that ranger and how nice he was to her). Finally, we came back in the fall and tried it as a two-day backpack when she was four-years-old. That did the trick.

A quick word about attitude: I have two kids (a 16-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy). They are COMPLETELY different in temperament and physique. Getting them through a backpacking trip are two totally different experiences. My daughter is one of the toughest human beings I've ever met. Even when she was a toddler, I was constantly amazed at her stamina and willpower. My son has ADHD and then some, and every experience in nature is about him throwing his body at anything and everything with wild abandon. But he also feels his body in ways that I don't. When he's hungry, he's incapacitated. When he's hurt, he's really hurt and has a hard time getting beyond it.

With my daughter, I point her in the right direction and she just goes and goes and goes. With my son, it's a constant exhausting challenge to keep him focused and motivated.  Every child is unique. But I do believe almost all healthy children can make it to the top of Guadalupe Peak with a little guidance and support from their parent or guardian.

A few things that have always proven helpful to me with ANY very young child on a tough hike: 1) the biggest tip is keep the kids well-fed and well-hyrdrated. Proportionally, they're burning WAAAAAAY more calories than we are.  Feed them well and often. Meals, yes.....but also snacks.  Things like trailmix, hard candies, even GU or chewing gum can keep them topped off with quick-burning carbs as well as distracting them from the pain of backpacking. I mix their drinking water with electrolyte powders. It keeps them healthily hydrated, adds important nutrients, and seems like a special treat to them (admittedly, the better ones are often not the tastier ones: e.g., NUUN vs. Propel). And the restorative power of a hot-meal cooked right there on the trail, and maybe finished off with some Peanut M&M's, is unbeatable.

Another tip: slow and steady wins the race. Don't rush. Take your time (hard for some of us adults). Let the kids set the pace and only encourage them or prod them when they lose focus or dawdle too much. I've always found it best to let the kids go first and I follow.  Their view is the better one, and I'm forced to save my energy for challenges up the trail (like carrying both my pack AND theirs for awhile, if they become exhausted). Perhaps help the time pass by playing some "I Spy" games, looking for various kinds of animals or plants or minerals.

Take LOTS of breaks. Snack when you break. Maybe even take a nap or two during the day. Or for the more energetic child, pause to play mountain goat, or to climb a tree. In my experience, getting young kids up a steep mountain, or down and back out of a deep canyon, or across a snowy-and-frigid or hot-and-blistering mesa, is often a give-and-take between goal-oriented pushing and laid-back play.

I say, go for it, Wrangler. You'll make one-of-a-kind memories for everyone involved. If you're prepared for the challenge, no one can stop you. 
« Last Edit: September 17, 2018, 02:34:47 PM by House Made of Dawn »
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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #12 on: September 17, 2018, 02:46:57 PM »
12 years ago. The day before the summit, at the summit, and the day after the summit.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #13 on: September 17, 2018, 02:56:17 PM »
It took her ten hours to carry her own pack the three miles and three thousand feet up to the campsite just below the summit, but she made it...all on her own steam.  Within five minutes of arriving, she was sound asleep. But we woke up to an unbelievably gorgeous sunrise in a crystal clear frigid morning. And we had the whole thing to ourselves.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

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Offline House Made of Dawn

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Re: Family trip to Guadalupe Peak and Carlsbad Caverns
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2018, 03:00:57 PM »
These memories last a lifetime and beyond.
"The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts."

 


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