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Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019

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Online Jonathan Sadow

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #60 on: October 15, 2019, 08:51:46 PM »
As for surface water in the National Park, I think the official rule for quite some time, (though perhaps not highly publicized), has been that water may be taken from McKittrick Creek, but only at trail crossings.

You are correct.  McKittrick Creek is the only permanent water source in the park (which makes the regulations concerning water sources rather simple...), and water from it can only obtained at wet crossings (usually just the two easternmost crossings).  You cannot go off-trail to get water from it.

One of the things I've considered doing in my volunteer work at the park is to compile a guide for the visitor center personnel to use in educating visitors about the Guadalupe Ridge Trail.  To that effect, in 2018 I hiked the section from the end of Five Points Road (FS 540) to the park boundary and took photos.  I had planned to continue further along the trail in 2019 but have missed the entire year due to a herniated disk in my lower back which has kept me completely sidelined.  I hope to be recovered and back in 2020 (especially with the major honor the park is slated to receive) to continue this work, but in the meantime it's good that Minimal is working on something like it for general consumption.

I'm distressed to read about the water caches disappearing.  The stretch of the GRT that goes from the intersection of 201 and 540 to the park boundary is, relatively speaking, one of the most-used stretches of Forest Service roads in the Lincoln NF.  You might find it hard to believe, but 201, 540, and 3008 are all open to vehicles.  Only the last roughly 1.3 miles to the park boundary, Trail 45, is designated for hikers only.  Besides receiving use during hunting season, the area can be a bit of a party spot on weekends;  you may have noticed trash and fire rings along the way, as well as the broken auto parts scattered along the easternmost sections of 3008 contributed by people who don't mind damaging their vehicles while operating them.  If there's any area in the forest where your cache might disappear, that would be it.  I'm as surprised as you are about your other cache vanishing;  that area receives little visitation, and it's mystifying as to why it disappeared.

One thing that your hike probably impressed upon you was the difference between USFS and NPS land.  Unlike NPS land, USFS land is managed for multiple uses such as cattle grazing, mineral extraction, hunting, etc..  That's why you had to spend so much effort dodging cows (and cowpies);  a substantial part of the Lincoln NF is leased for cattle operations.  At least you can camp almost anywhere, whereas in the park you have only the ten designated backcountry campsites.  It's also no surprise that you encountered a full Guadalupe Peak backcountry campsite;  it's the second-most used backcountry campsite in the park and is generally full or nearly so Friday and Saturday nights unless the weather is bad.

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #61 on: October 15, 2019, 11:16:37 PM »
As for surface water in the National Park, I think the official rule for quite some time, (though perhaps not highly publicized), has been that water may be taken from McKittrick Creek, but only at trail crossings.

You are correct.  McKittrick Creek is the only permanent water source in the park (which makes the regulations concerning water sources rather simple...), and water from it can only obtained at wet crossings (usually just the two easternmost crossings).  You cannot go off-trail to get water from it.

One of the things I've considered doing in my volunteer work at the park is to compile a guide for the visitor center personnel to use in educating visitors about the Guadalupe Ridge Trail.  To that effect, in 2018 I hiked the section from the end of Five Points Road (FS 540) to the park boundary and took photos.  I had planned to continue further along the trail in 2019 but have missed the entire year due to a herniated disk in my lower back which has kept me completely sidelined.  I hope to be recovered and back in 2020 (especially with the major honor the park is slated to receive) to continue this work, but in the meantime it's good that Minimal is working on something like it for general consumption.

I'm distressed to read about the water caches disappearing.  The stretch of the GRT that goes from the intersection of 201 and 540 to the park boundary is, relatively speaking, one of the most-used stretches of Forest Service roads in the Lincoln NF.  You might find it hard to believe, but 201, 540, and 3008 are all open to vehicles.  Only the last roughly 1.3 miles to the park boundary, Trail 45, is designated for hikers only.  Besides receiving use during hunting season, the area can be a bit of a party spot on weekends;  you may have noticed trash and fire rings along the way, as well as the broken auto parts scattered along the easternmost sections of 3008 contributed by people who don't mind damaging their vehicles while operating them.  If there's any area in the forest where your cache might disappear, that would be it.  I'm as surprised as you are about your other cache vanishing;  that area receives little visitation, and it's mystifying as to why it disappeared.

One thing that your hike probably impressed upon you was the difference between USFS and NPS land.  Unlike NPS land, USFS land is managed for multiple uses such as cattle grazing, mineral extraction, hunting, etc..  That's why you had to spend so much effort dodging cows (and cowpies);  a substantial part of the Lincoln NF is leased for cattle operations.  At least you can camp almost anywhere, whereas in the park you have only the ten designated backcountry campsites.  It's also no surprise that you encountered a full Guadalupe Peak backcountry campsite;  it's the second-most used backcountry campsite in the park and is generally full or nearly so Friday and Saturday nights unless the weather is bad.

Pretty wild to think that Guadalupe Peak wouldn't be the #1 backcountry site. I wouldn't think Pine Top would have more. It's insane the number of people on Guadalupe Peak Trail. And then you see nearly nobody in the rest of the park ...

The only thing about the 2nd cache near Dark Canyon lookout would be the people headed to the lookout and Cottonwood Cave. There were 3 cars there when we were there. I dont know exactly where the caches were hidden. So I dont know if they were hidden well. I do know they were clearly labeled.

It is easy to see the differences between forest management and park management. Although GUMO is a park with more rules, it seems wilder because of the lack of vehicles, trash, etc.

By McKittrick Creek being the only permanent water sources, what about Smith and Manzanita Springs? Or did you mean backcountry water sources? And if you can only access the water at Mckittrick Creek on the eastern portions on the trail, what would be the point? You either just came from the trailhead withwater, or you are very near being there. I've never seen the point in needing to filter from the creek anyway.

Thanks for all the comments. It would be awesome to see volunteers and rangers have more knowledge of the trail. Also for the park to streamline the process for booking sites several days in advance when doing the GRT.
Are you able to say what the major honor is that the park is receiving?
« Last Edit: October 16, 2019, 12:25:22 AM by wrangler88 »

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #62 on: October 16, 2019, 09:11:52 AM »
Maybe Jonathan meant the two westernmost crossings? 

There are seven crossings between the trailhead and the Pratt.  I've always found the 4th have good flow, and the 6th and 7th usually have some water. 

Above the Pratt, things get a little jumbled, but basically there are no more wet crossings unless it's been rainy.

It would be sensible to create a designated path down to the stream near where the trail leaves the canyon bottom.  Thus hikers could get water just before heading up, or just after coming down from McKittrick Ridge.  I've not needed to draw water from the stream, but the option ought to be available to hikers.  That far back in the canyon, there should not be too much of a threat from careless or unruly visitors.
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #63 on: October 21, 2019, 07:34:22 AM »
This is the third and final video to the GRT videos. This video covers form ththe TX/NM state line, through Mckittrick Canyon, and all the way across the park to the summit of Guadalupe Peak. This was by far my favorite section of the trail.


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Offline mule ears

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #64 on: October 21, 2019, 08:46:22 AM »
Like I said before, hell of walk the last two days!
temperatures exceed 100 degrees F
minimum 1 gallon water per person/day
no shade, no water
http://40yearsofwalking.wordpress.com/

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Offline AggieOO

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #65 on: October 22, 2019, 03:16:53 PM »
Thank you for posting the write-ups, videos, and addressing concerns.  I've thoroughly enjoyed reading/watching.  Happy to see some info on the trail, as I'm preparing to cover the route next spring.  This has been invaluable.

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Offline TexasAggieHiker

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #66 on: October 22, 2019, 10:44:10 PM »
Great trip. Great report. Thoroughly enjoyed the videos. Really cut into my productivity at work. Been a while since Iíve been to GUMO. This reignited the fire to go back and cover the last few sections of trail I havenít hiked yet.

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #67 on: October 23, 2019, 05:24:53 AM »
Great trip. Great report. Thoroughly enjoyed the videos. Really cut into my productivity at work. Been a while since Iíve been to GUMO. This reignited the fire to go back and cover the last few sections of trail I havenít hiked yet.

Haha! Tell your employer that I apologize.
The trip reinforced to me just how special GUMO really is. Even when compared to the rest of the Guadalupe Range. I'll be back out there over the winter. Hope you get to make it out there soon. I'd love to see more trip reports on the GUMO forum.

Thank you for posting the write-ups, videos, and addressing concerns.  I've thoroughly enjoyed reading/watching.  Happy to see some info on the trail, as I'm preparing to cover the route next spring.  This has been invaluable.

Thanks a lot for following along. Glad it helped out. If you have anymore questions feel free to ask me or Todd (Minimal on this thread). Good luck with your hike!

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #68 on: October 24, 2019, 05:51:41 PM »
Finally got to see the last video report.  Really enjoyed your report!  This route was a great accomplishment.  As you point out, the last part was the best, with the superb vistas of the GMNP rewarding your efforts.  Do you think you could have done what you did in the last 2 days without having been conditioned by the first 4 days?

It makes sense to me that Pine Top would be the most heavily used backcountry campsite, because of its location.  The Guadalupe Peak campsite is isolated from the rest of the backcountry.  I've never spent a night there, not wanting to haul stuff up for one night, only to haul it back down. 

Similarly, Wilderness Ridge camp lies on a pretty daunting trail that doesn't connect to the rest of the park.

McKittrick Ridge is the longest and hardest slog, so it's not surprising that many would shy away from it.

The sites near Dog Canyon lose out, because so few people go to the back side of the park.

That leaves Pine Top as the closest site on the front side that connects to the rest of the backcountry.
"Ah, sure, I'm a gnawed old bone now, but say, don't you guys think the spirit's gone!"

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #69 on: October 24, 2019, 09:01:53 PM »
Finally got to see the last video report.  Really enjoyed your report!  This route was a great accomplishment.  As you point out, the last part was the best, with the superb vistas of the GMNP rewarding your efforts.  Do you think you could have done what you did in the last 2 days without having been conditioned by the first 4 days?

It makes sense to me that Pine Top would be the most heavily used backcountry campsite, because of its location.  The Guadalupe Peak campsite is isolated from the rest of the backcountry.  I've never spent a night there, not wanting to haul stuff up for one night, only to haul it back down. 

Similarly, Wilderness Ridge camp lies on a pretty daunting trail that doesn't connect to the rest of the park.

McKittrick Ridge is the longest and hardest slog, so it's not surprising that many would shy away from it.

The sites near Dog Canyon lose out, because so few people go to the back side of the park.

That leaves Pine Top as the closest site on the front side that connects to the rest of the backcountry.

I do think I could have hiked that far without having the previous 4 days as warmup. But I think that definitely helped. Makes me optimistic for even longer trips in the future. After pushing through the physical wall of day 4, I truly felt like I could have kept going, possibly with longer days after day 6. I just probably wont have the time off to attempt a longer trip like that.

I get the reasoning why Pine top would be #1. But as many times as you've been out there, you know how many people do Guadalupe Peak. And how few people are anywhere else in the park (besides front country trails such as Devils Hall, Mckittrick Canyon, Smith spring, etc.) I've never shared a campsite anywhere in the park other than Guadalupe Peak. I'd love to see some more in depth numbers on the actual visitations to each of the backcountry sites.

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Offline Flash

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #70 on: October 24, 2019, 09:13:31 PM »
Thanks, Wrangler, for that last video and all the prior ones to boot!  :great:

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Offline TexasAggieHiker

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #71 on: October 25, 2019, 08:19:44 AM »
The Tejas site has the best tent pads. Huge, flat, clean. The canyon itís in is real pretty, but lacks the big sweeping views most other sites have. Itís really protected from the wind as well.

Blue Ridge is remote. It really feels like you are in the wilderness. The views arenít bad. But most of the tent pads are in poor shape. Last time I was there one pad was completely grown over, I almost couldnít find it. Another was washed out so bad it was almost unusable.

Wilderness Ridge has nice pads and the GREAT view into McKittrick right by the campsite. Though not much privacy between pads.

Bush Mountain sites are nice and secluded from one another. The view from the western escarpment is right there. Been 10 years since I stayed at those.

Pine Top is Pine Top. Crowded, rocky.   Good views close by.

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Offline wrangler88

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Re: Guadalupe Ridge Trail Thru Hike - Sept. 2019
« Reply #72 on: October 26, 2019, 01:28:39 AM »
The Tejas site has the best tent pads. Huge, flat, clean. The canyon itís in is real pretty, but lacks the big sweeping views most other sites have. Itís really protected from the wind as well.

Blue Ridge is remote. It really feels like you are in the wilderness. The views arenít bad. But most of the tent pads are in poor shape. Last time I was there one pad was completely grown over, I almost couldnít find it. Another was washed out so bad it was almost unusable.

Wilderness Ridge has nice pads and the GREAT view into McKittrick right by the campsite. Though not much privacy between pads.

Bush Mountain sites are nice and secluded from one another. The view from the western escarpment is right there. Been 10 years since I stayed at those.

Pine Top is Pine Top. Crowded, rocky.   Good views close by.

I agree that Tejas has some of the best tent pads. I actually just posted a question on the GUMO Facebook page asking what backcountry site was everyone's favorite. While I was hoping for more conversation, everyone who responded said Mckittrick Ridge. I do really like those sites as the tent pads a good and all the fallen trees give plenty of places to sit. Plus it's in a fairly thickly wooded area. I also like shumard as its so different than every other site at GUMO. The views of the cliff walls at sunset are amazing.

I've been to all the backcountry sites. But never stayed at Blue Ridge. They aren't overly impressive. But I hope to stay there on my next trip just to say I have.

 


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