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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.
Quote from: backpacker56 on October 11, 2019, 06:02:59 PMAs 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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