2/23/14: Cowboy camping on Guadalupe Peak!

Laying (without a tent, gasp!) at 8000 ft, awestruck by the scenery and stars…. Yes, despite the long water carries, I do believe I love hiking in the west! My first time cowboy camping came about from sheer laziness – the tent pads at the established campsite up here is very rocky, and stakes were a no-go. Instead of gathering up tons of rocks to pile on the guy lines, I decided to simply lay out my ground cloth and sleep under the stars as the weather forecast didn’t call for any rain. Definitely an adjustment, getting used to the fact I don’t need to assume rain and bugs in this environment.

The first hiking day of Joan and my much anticipated “Southwest Tour” of the next 3 weeks commenced joyously. Nancy and Neal (Joan’s lovely parents who so wonderfully invited me along to Muleshoe and to be our ground support for this adventure) sent us off from the trailhead with many smiles and pictures. Our goal for our 3 days and 2 nights in Guadalupe are to help get adjusted to higher elevation and hiking in hot dry conditions that we’ll encounter from Day 1 on the PCT in SoCal. Both of which were accomplished today, despite noticeable slowing down for me above 7000 feet. We were going slowly anyway, gawking at the views (and me catching my breath in a fond return to “shade to shade” hiking) but the last mile to the campsite was particularly frustrating for me. I finally got into a better rhythm of belly breathing, slowing down my pace, and stopping as often as I needed. Nowhere close to wheezing, so I count the day as a success! We only hiked a total of 5 1/2 miles, but that was enough for our late start and the elevation gain. Dinner on Guadalupe Peak’s summit was a particular treat! From the clouds there wasn’t a sunset, but the light was amazing.

Trying out new sun protection gear made our day silly at times – adjusting the umbrella (though definitely a no-go in high wind), pulling on the sun legs which now have a hiker-acceptable amount of dirt on them, and using the hand shades made for an even more ridiculous outfit than normal. But effective, no obvious sunburn here! I was pretty hot in the hat though, not breezy at all. Well, I’ll try out my visor in Muleshoe, maybe a bandana combo will work when needed and keep my head cooler. It was awesome to wear my sunglasses all day long – definitely needed with how bright it is. A new pair that doesn’t pinch my ears may be needed though – perhaps the last item to purchase before the ice axe!

How I love returning to my chosen lifestyle of living simply and enjoying being small in the midst of grandeur……

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