We reached a milestone in our marriage in 2020. We had been married for 10 years. We had dreamed of big plans to celebrate this accomplishment and then the pandemic hit. All was washed away and in the midst of it we were moving. We finally got settled and realized I was getting a 3 day weekend in October. I am not a “do things on a whim” kind of person but I felt we needed to get away. We travel often and we hadn’t been any where since January of 2020….10 months is a long time to not go any where. At least for us. So Victor and I dropped our kids off with the grandparents and set off on a road trip with no set plans except to climb the Guadalupe Mountain Peak. (Which we decided about 3 days prior to that!)
Friday night we drove until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. We ended up in Fort Stockton at a cheap motel. We needed to get up really early to make it to the mountains so it served its purpose. We got up around 6 a.m. and continued our trek. We had 2 and half hours to go before we hit the national park. We got to the visitor center at 9 a.m. and the parking lot was already full and we had to park half a mile away. We only knew the hike was about 9 miles round trip. Victor is pretty well versed in long hikes and I am pretty capable but the park ranger could tell we hadn’t read too much into it and recommended close toed shoes due to the rough terrain and rocks. He said it would take 6 to 8 hours. So we had to walk back to the car which made us end up walking a little over 10 miles that day. Haha
The hike was beautiful! The leaves were starting to turn and the views were like no where else. We made it to the top in about 2 and a half hours. The peak had never ending views and showed a part of Texas you can only find in the west. Guadalupe Mountain is the highest point in Texas. The wind was so intense at the peak. We stuck around for about 15 minutes. I know some people don’t realize Texas has mountains but we do. 🙂 We were stubbornly determined to make it to the bottom of the trail in less than 6 hours. What we were not anticipating was how much harder it is to go down than up. It took us about 3 hours to get back down. My lungs felt great the entire way down but my legs and feet were not used to the constant downward motion, so Victor and I had to stop and give our bodies a break. We ended up at the bottom of the trail at 5 hours 45ish minutes. If you are not a frequent hiker, plan for the 6 to 8 hours. You need time to give your legs and feet a break. Oh and by the way it was totally worth it!
The national park offers a multitude of trails and I recommend visiting during October-November to see the leaves change colors. If you are hiking in the summer months, I would highly advise going on the trail early in the morning. It can get very hot. One trail we hope to hike next time is Devil’s Hall.
Surprisingly, the closest town to the park was actually in New Mexico. We found an affordable hotel in Carlsbad and were pleasantly surprised at how cute and updated it was. One thing we found out in these desert towns is that things close early or not open on the weekends. We ate dinner, showered and crashed pretty quickly.
We got up early and headed out to the Carlsbad Caverns. We thought we would get there 15 minutes before it opened. From the main road you would think the park didn’t have much to see on the outside, but we came around this hill and were blown away by the rolling hills and rock cliffs. Thanks to COVID the park already had a LONG line! It opened at 8 a.m. and we waited in line for about 30 minutes to pay and get an entrance time. Our time was 11:30 so we decided to explore the surrounding area. We even saw some bighorn sheep!
We made our way down into the caverns and I thought I knew what to anticipate but it was so much larger than I thought! It was mesmerizing…down right breath taking. It was nice and cool in the caverns which was a nice change from the hike the day before. It is a lot of walking but you don’t notice because you are trying to take in all of the cavern.
We left the caverns around 2 p.m. and headed back towards San Antonio to hit one more hike before our trip was over. We hiked Lost Maples Monday morning and picked up our kids Monday afternoon. It was a lot of driving and a ton of hiking but it was worth every second! If you don’t take time to get away with you spouse kid free, I highly recommended it. It’s good for your marriage and your soul. 🙂