Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Guadalupes

In mid-May, I spent a few days in the Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns to kick off the post-Masters era (let us hope that my affinity for blogging revives). Tom Barnett, with whom I traveled to Big Bend after the fall semester, joined me, while Professor William Doolittle came along in spirit.

Guadalupe Peak is the highest summit in Texas. Like the Chisos Range in Big Bend, its ecosystem changes with elevation, becoming far wetter and more forested as one ascends.

I hiked to the Basin shortly after we set up camp. It is the only area in the range high and flat enough to support alpine meadows.

We camped at a site called Pine Top, about 8000 feet high and across the valley from "Guad" Peak. I did not bring enough water and spent a rather parched night.

The next morning we descended and drove west, passing some salt flats.

On Googlemaps, I had noticed a lush patch of green to the west of the Guadalupes. It is Dell City, an isolated farming town of about 500 people. On our way through the outlying fields (all watered by pivot irrigation), we passed several abandoned cotton gin mills. Many fields lay fallow. But in most cases, the desert still blooms, and the enchiladas at the Spanish Angels cafe downtown were the best I have had in Texas.

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