April 18, 2011

HATS Carlsbad Caverns & Guadalupe National Parks

Hugo of Houston Area Trails and More (HATS) organized a camping trip with us and his hiking group from the Bay Area (California).  Hugo and others drove in all of the cooking equipment and much of the food supplies from Houston.  Ardis and I flew into El Paso, spent a night in a comfortable Holiday Inn Express, bought supplies from WalMart and drove about an hour to Guadalupe Mountains National Park to set up camp.

We all drove into New Mexico to visit Carlsbad Caverns.  Lucky for us it was "National Park Day" and admission was free.  It was also late, the main elevators were out of commission and we had to hustle to the natural entrance.  

We headed down, way down ...
....  passing through room after room with amazing stalagmites, stalactites and other eerie sorts of formations (captured beautifully by my fellow campers).

Sadly, this was not bat "season" and we missed seeing a million bats exit the caverns at sunset. Instead, we relaxed back at our campsite.

Comfortable by day ...

 ... but a bit chilly in the evening.

The next day we got ready for our big challenge - hiking up Guadalupe Peak, the tallest mountain in Texas at 8,751 feet.  We "only" had to hike up a net 4,000 feet (8.4 miles round-trip in 4.5 hours).  

 Success (and sunburn) ! 

After a hard night of celebrating, we packed up camp and drove back to El Paso.  We drove along the Sonoma Mission Trail and enjoyed some Tex Mex before flying home.

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