West Texas

Hiking Guadalupe Peak by Kelly Garcia

HELLO, HEAVEN.

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Houston > Balmorhea Lake > Marfa > Guadalupe Mountains National Park > Whites City

After a good night's rest in Whites City, Brandi and I got up before the sun and loaded up the car. Not knowing where we would land after the Guadalupe hike, we checked out of the RV park with a fully packed vehicle and headed south towards adventure. 

We arrived at the park just as the sun was rising. The land, the sky, shadows and sounds were breath taking. My version of heaven. Kind of like a mini desert version of Big Bend. First stop was the visitor center restroom, so I could braid mine and Brandi's hair. For me, braids are the only way to keep the hair out of my face 100% of the hike and I can easily switch between hat/no hat on the longer hikes.

Our packs included a sandwich for the top of the mountain, 3L of water each, a film camera (still waiting to get developed), a digital camera, a Marigold bar each, our Manready TX caps, beanies (I brought my red John Prine beanie (which worked out nice for International Women's Day), chapstick, mace, sunscreen, etc... When it comes to water, I think it's better to too much than not enough because you never know what will happen.* I usually pack my 3L hydration pack as well as a Nalgene style water bottle, but this time I just took the 3L pack to make room for my camera in my pack.

The view got more and more beautiful each step of the way. There were a couple of places near the end that had my rear burning! After all, we were hiking up! Instead of complaining when we are out of breath and on a burn stretch, Brandi and I like to remind each other how lucky we are to have bodies that can hike mountains. That may not be the case forever, so we really take in every bit of our hikes. 

It was a clear, sunny day and it felt like the birds were singing just for us. We joked that they swooped in to sing when our bums were burning the most. Songs of encouragement. haha. When Brandi and I would pause to catch our breath and look down at what was behind us, I noticed something that I've never given much attention to before. Bird shadows. On a clear day with only birds in the sky, there's is nothing like watching their shadows glide across the land. Now it's something I look out for.

We spent close to an hour on that peak. We relaxed, took photos, and ate our well deserved sandwiches. On the way down, we kept passing and getting passed up by a couple who we eventually struck up conversation with. By the time we reached the bottom of the mountain, they had invited us to share a camp with them inside the park! 

To see more from the trip, check out #buenosjourneywest on IG

 **While we were out, this young kid came running after us panicking and said he needed water for his Dad. He was really worried because his Dad had ran out and wasn't doing well. Had I packed that extra water bottle, I would have just handed it over to him. It would have been a good amount to share. Sadly, I didn't have much to share. We found the Dad a little back on the trail and the poor guy looked awful and embarrassed. 

    

All photos by Brandi Bueno and myself.  

Buenos Journey West by Kelly Garcia

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If you have ever been out to west Texas, you know. The sky goes on forever and like the sea, you can't tell where the earth stops and the sky begins. You can see the shadow of every bird that soars between you and the sun. There are hot springs, cold springs, snakes, tacos, cacti, sand dunes, bears, mountains, cold rivers and swift shifting skies. Shaking out your boots is a routine part of every morning and you'll need a bandana handy for the next sand storm. It's a magical land where tumbleweed roams and you can see the start and end of a rainbow.  I could go on forever with details, but you just don't know until you go.

This whole adventure came about because my husband Seth booked a few guitar gigs in Texas. We are both from Texas now living in Tennessee so of course I invited myself along on his trip back home. It had been around two years since I had visited my favorite place on earth and that's unacceptable. I blocked out a few days to be in Houston with family before and after the journey west and starting looking at which destinations I could hit within 8 days. So many places, so little time! I wanted to hit a few new places and still reserve time to revisit some golden oldies. Once I had a rough idea of what I was going to do, I invited my sister Brandi to join me. We've been out west a handful of times, but never just the two of us. I warned her that is was a camping trip and my two person tent meant that we would be sleeping shoulder to shoulder. Brandi is constantly traveling (check out her blog here), so I fully expected her to say she was already going to be out of town or she needed time to rest between trips, especially with only three weeks notice! But she didn't. She was down for the 8 day journey west. 

The plan was as follows:

Sunday 3.5.17 .......... Houston --> Balmorhea State Park
Monday 3.6.17.......... Balmorhea --> White Sands, New Mexico
Tuesday 3.7.17.......... White Sands, New Mexico
Wednesday 3.7.17.......... White Sands, New Mexico --> Marfa, Texas
Thursday 3.7.17.......... Marfa, Texas --> Terlingua, Texas
Friday 3.8.17.......... Terlingua/Big Bend
Saturday 3.9.17.......... Terlingua/Big Bend
Sunday Terlingua --> Houston, Texas

But as things usually go, the plan went out the window due to some unfortunate events that took place during our first night in Balmorhea. Stay tuned for the full story and for our actual whacky west Texas route that spontaneously developed! 

In the meantime, check out Brandi's blog post about my desert hairdo, the triple braid.