The Great Guadalupe, Carlsbad, Fourth of July Adventure (PART I)
PART I Devil’s Staircase, Guadalupe Peak, and Geologic History
A long delayed follow-up to this post from about 4.5 years ago.
I finished up my internship at Giddings Physical Therapy on Friday June 26th and then headed to the airport in Austin to pick up Apryle. We spent the evening at Nancy’s house in Austin and then hit the road for Guadalupe National Park in west Texas late that night. We drove through the night and most of Saturday until we arrived at the Pine Springs Visitor Center late in the afternoon of Saturday June 27th. The drive across central and west Texas is always a unique experience. The roads are wide, the speed limits are infinite, and the landscape is eerily desolate, occupied mostly by low growing shrubs and open desert.
We set up our modest two-person tent at a developed campground at Pine Springs. Then we decided to go for a quick run to explore our new surroundings. This led us down the Devils Hall trail, which meandered through the Pine Spring Canyon. The conditions were perfect, the temperatures were cooling as the sun was setting and the trail surface was quintessential west Texas, rocky gravel single track. The end destination was an unmistakable narrow rock hallway carved from years of erosion. If nothing else Lucifer had good taste in flooring choice and wall design. We returned to the campsite after using every last inch of light to get back.
On Sunday June 28th we broke down the campsite and then practiced for our multiday backpack trip by schlepping the tent and gear to the campsite near the summit. We dropped all of our gear at the site and then continued onto the summit of the highest peak in Texas, Guadalupe Peak (8749 ft). We spent the remainder of the day enjoying the views from our spot and exploring the unique varieties of flora. We completed the day with a second sunset summit of the mountain.
Guadalupe National Park, has a fascinating geologic history. During the Permian Period (about 260 million years ago), modern day Guadalupe NP was under the Delaware Sea. Specifically, this region was the Capitan Reef, which was a hot spot for sea dwelling organisms. However, over time the water began to evaporate, creating alternating bands of mineral salts and mud, which covered the reef. Then about 80 million years ago, tectonic activity caused this long buried reef to once again rise to the surface and subsequently tower 3000 feet over the desert floor as the modern Guadalupe Mountains.
The rock in the park is referred to as Capitan limestone, which is massive fine-grained fossiliferous rock that was formed by the accumulation of plant and animal skeletons. Many of the little creatures that once thrived in the Capitan Reef are now preserved in the exposed rock faces and formations within the park. This makes Guadalupe National Park not only beautiful and unique on a macro scale but also a micro scale, as it is home to numerous well-preserved fossils preserved in stone.