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Seeking input on hiking options for day trip

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Offline Gustafson

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Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« on: November 18, 2019, 04:14:37 PM »
My 9yo daughter and I plan to spend a day next week in GMNP. We'll be staying an hour away and expect to reach Pine Springs around 8AM. I'm currently torn on which hike to cover in such a short time. If we have the energy, I was thinking of tackling Guadalupe Peak, and if we can't reach it due to winds or exhaustion, then turn around and - if time permits - do Devil's Hall on the way down and call it a day. The other thought was to instead spend the day in McKittrick's Canyon and do the extra hike up to the Notch. The reason this is my second option is because it appears we've already missed peak fall colors, but I am open to being convinced that this is the better option and go with it. Finally, if there's any other easy stop / hike that will mesh well with either option, I'd love to hear about it. Thank you in advance!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2019, 05:18:58 PM by Gustafson »

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2019, 05:58:12 PM »
So it looks like you're thinking of visiting both Big Bend and Guadalupe next week.  Sounds ambitious just because of the distance.  Maybe you're passing by the GMNP on your way to and from BBNP.

The weather forecast looks variable, as usual, with some nicer days later in the week.  If you've never been up Guadalupe Peak, it's probably a priority for you, so I'd just focus on that, assuming the wind cooperates and both of you are fit and motivated.  It's not that hard, and even if you turn back, it's still a good hike.  If beaten back by the wind or cold, you probably won't feel like making a side trip to Devil's Hall on your way down, but it all depends on your own stamina and desires.  Devil's Hall isn't really "on your way down"; it's a hike unto itself.

If the weather is windy, you should probably do McKittrick rather than Guadalupe Peak.  Keep an eye on the time and turn back in time to get out before they lock the gate at 4:30.  Don't forget the park operates on Mountain Time Zone.

Shorter nice hikes are the Manzanita/Smith Spring loop, or the Devil's Hall.  An alternative to Guadalupe Peak would be Hunter Peak via Bear Canyon, but if conditions are favorable for going up high, you'd probably choose Guadalupe over Hunter.
"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 Gustafson

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2019, 07:08:32 PM »
Thank you for the comprehensive reply! Were actually planning to visit both parks as a part of a road trip through West TX and Southern NM.

Its good to know that the hike to Guadalupe peak is not too hard, weather permitting. I had no idea that the park is on Mountain Time - thanks for the heads up. And thanks for suggesting making the choice based on the wind conditions. That helps tremendously. Thank you so very much!

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2019, 10:09:52 PM »
The time zone thing is kind of odd.  The park is almost entirely in Culberson County, which would put it in the Central Time Zone, except there's a little jog in the time zone boundary carving off the northwest corner of Culberson County where the park lies, and sticking it in Mountain time.  Maybe the reason was to keep the park in the same time zone as Carlsbad Caverns, for administrative convenience. 

But if you look at the bigger picture, all of New Mexico is in Mountain time, so the real question is why the boundary doesn't follow the more natural line and drop straight down from the eastern border of New Mexico, so that all of west Texas is in Mountain time, everything west of Fort Stockton, including Big Bend.

To further complicate matters, on my last trip I'm convinced my phone reset itself to Central Time after I'd manually set it to Mountain, so all my photos were an hour off in their timestamps.  So the lesson is to not depend on your smartphone.  Well, if you do get confused, at least with Central Time you'll be an hour early, thereby reducing the chance of getting locked in at McKittrick Canyon.

When I say Guadalupe Peak is easy, it's relative to your conditioning, and the weather.
"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 Gustafson

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2019, 06:28:18 AM »
Thanks for the heads up. Your point about keeping it consistent with Carlsbad Caverns makes sense. But if you have an itin that criss crosses time zones, its one additional thing to keep track of ... haha. Our itin has us driving up to the park in the morning from the south, so from the Central Time Zone. So the extra hour is welcome. However, we will have an earlier sunset (5pm) compared to what wed have been accustomed to in Big Bend (6pm) this time of year.

Im also grateful to you for the tip about looking into the weather. Turns out its going to be rather cold and windy in GMNP most of this weekend and early next week (40s/30s). Am almost thinking we might stay an extra day hiking Big Bend and skip GMNP and hike it another time, or consider it later in the week if it warms up and the winds die down. We were supposed to drive to SE NM after GMNP to see snow and go snow tubing - we might do that first,  given the (light) snow in the forecast, and perhaps catch GMNP on the way back if it has warmed up by then. Decisions, decisions ... lol


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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2019, 08:58:45 AM »
The snow recreation opportunity must mean Cloudcroft or Ruidoso.  I was in Cloudcroft the weekend before last, and there was no trace of snow anywhere, which is probably not unusual for this time of year.  The golf course was closed for the winter, which seemed a shame since everything was so green and pleasant.  Not that I'm a golfer, perish the thought.  I don't think good snow conditions can be expected until the dead of winter, although freak storms and wild unpredictability are more the rule than the exception in that part of the world.  I don't follow snow sports conditions, so I'm not the best source of info.  I believe they make artificial snow at the ski areas, but I can't see a good base being present this early.  I grew up in El Paso, and don't remember going tubing before Christmas.

That said, it's still mighty pretty, and the drive from Artesia to Cloudcroft is one of my favorites.  The tall timber around Cloudcroft is really nice.  I was thinking about posting something separately about my recent visit there, and I'm veering off topic here.
"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 Gustafson

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2019, 09:52:42 AM »
Yes, indeed. We were originally thinking of the Ruidoso Winter Park which promises to open on Thanksgiving, but its apparently going to snow in Cloudcroft this week (3-4") and a little next week (1"), so we might see if we can drive up and catch the snowfall. It's on my kiddo's bucketlist, so if we can time it right, I'll be the "Dad of the year", even if it's only for a couple of days  :icon_biggrin:

Any tips on accommodations in Ruidoso or Cloudcroft? I currently have a generic hotel booked for Ruidoso, but if there are more scenic / rustic accommodations like cabins or lodges (affordable, of course), I'd switch in a heartbeat. Thanks!

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Offline backpacker56

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2019, 11:53:44 AM »
I'm not too experienced in hired lodging, as I've usually gone backpacking.  I would just shop the internet.  When our kids were little we used to stay at the Ruidoso Lodge Cabins.  They were rustic, but nice.  Haven't been there in years, but I just checked on the internet, and the place looks the same.  We also used to stay at the Swiss Chalet, and enjoyed it. 

I've stayed in some cabins that were more like shacks, so it's a good idea to look before you leap.  I'll bet there are tons of good choices for people who know how to shop the internet.

On our recent trip to Cloudcroft we stayed at The Lodge, just my wife and me.  A primo resort, and worth the money just for the history and atmosphere.
"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 Gustafson

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Re: Seeking input on hiking options for day trip
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2019, 03:58:54 PM »
Thank you for the pointers on accomodations around Ruidoso and Cloudcroft. Will look into it further.

 


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