TR-Guadalupe Mountains NP Backpacking Feb-March 1986

I believe this was my first backpacking trip ever. I’ll have to go through my notes and photos to recollect exactly what I did, and will update this post accordingly.

Pretty sure the route was Pine Spring TH up to Pine Top for first night; thence to Tejas backcountry site after exploring over to Hunter Peak, then maybe back along Tejas Trail and over to Bush Mountain, then back to Pine Top again for the last night.

GUMO permit feb1986

TR-Guadalupe Mountains NP Backpack Sept 1986

Trip report written some thirty-four years after the fact, relying on photos, map notes, and memory.

GUMO permit Sept 1986

Starting from Pine Spring Campground, I got up to the crest at the trail junction near Pine Top where I met Ranger Craig. Turns out he was doing a backcountry stint, and we hiked together for the next two days. He was quite the naturalist and helped me identify a lot of flora and fauna.

We stayed one night at Tejas backcountry site, then over to McKittrick Ridge for the next night. Somewhere along the McKittrick Trail we came across an angry rattlesnake.

Rock rattler that surprised us along the McKittrick trail
1983 Trails Illustrated map of GUMO with notes from three 1986 backpacking trips. Lower section. Note that the park HQ was still in the old shed at Frijole. There are a couple of errors in my hand-written notes there; please hold your calls. The plane site says “B-29” and not “B-24” and it’s in the wrong location.
McKittrick Canyon
Above McKittrick Canyon

In the morning, Craig left for elsewhere, and I returned back toward the Tejas trail.

Now the details get a bit foggy. Having three different backpacking trips in the GUMO highcountry that year, one tends to misremember some things. Although my permit indicates Blue Ridge for night three, I’m pretty sure I’ve never camped there. My photos show I stayed in the Mescalero site that night. I also think this was the trip I tried to solve the “no backcountry water” problem by making a side trip to Dog Canyon to replenish my water supply.

1983 Trails Illustrated map of GUMO with notes from three 1986 backpacking trips. Middle section.

Looking back, I think Craig had convinced me that my original plan of going to Dog Canyon to refill my water bottles then overnighting at Blue Ridge was untenable, and what I ended up doing was overnighting at Mescalero instead. I think I dropped my backpack at the Tejas/McKittrick trail junction, took a fanny pack to Dog Canyon (said fanny pack was terribly uncomfortable for hauling water), then returned and set up at Mescalero. Looking back, my original plan seems pretty silly, as it’s a four mile (eight round-trip) hike to Dog Canyon from the trail junction.

The only vivid memory I have from the Dog Canyon water run is from the return hike, up near the Lost Peak summit, I got hit by a thunderstorm with lightning crash nearby and I tried to make myself small by crouching down along the trail.

1983 Trails Illustrated map of GUMO with notes from three 1986 backpacking trips. Upper section.

I got to the Mescalero backcountry site later that afternoon and set up camp. Nobody else was there. I was anxiously watching a large thunderstorm build out to the East, but finally realized it was much farther away than I had originally thought. I did get rained on later that night, though.

Campsite at Mescalero site
From Mescalero backcountry site
From Mescalero backcountry site
Mescalero backcountry site

I don’t recall now which trail I took on the return trip. Possibly sidetracked through the Bowl, but my few photos don’t indicate that. When I got to the rim near Pine Top I took a break and played around with my telephoto lens, at one point focusing in on the Guadalupe Peak trail across the way.

Guadalupe Peak trail from across the canyon

When I finally go to the trailhead I snapped a photo (you won’t find it this deserted these days) and headed off to points West.

Pine Springs trailhead

TR-Big Bend NP Backpack South Rim Feb/March 1999

This is a trip report copied almost verbatim from what I wrote in 2000.

I took this trip on what I figured to be the last non-busy week before Spring Break; however, it was already getting crowded in the campsites (the Basin was full). I had arrived the night before around midnight; seeing that the other campsites were full I simply napped in the cab of my truck. It was fairly chilly, probably around 35-40, so I bundled up pretty well. I did see a coyote exploring the trash cans once early in the morning.

  • Trail distances for Pinnacles Trail to South Rim, return
  • via Laguna Meadows (from Basin trailhead): 
  • 3.5 miles to Emory Peak trail 
  • 4.5 miles to Boot Canyon campsites 
  • 4.8 miles to Boot Spring 
  • 5.3 miles to Southeast Rim Trail jct. 
  • 6.3 miles to Southeast Rim Trail jct. at the South Rim 
  • 8.0 miles to Colima trail jct. 
  • 8.8 miles to Blue Cr. trail jct. 
  • 12.1 miles to Basin trailhead


A bit after sunrise I went on into the Chisos Mountains to the Basin and the ranger HQ to get a backcountry permit. The nice older couple behind the counter, apparently camp hosts, pulled out a notebook with photos of the various campsites in the backcountry to help me to determine where I would go. Seeing the full campsite status, I was more concerned with getting away from crowds than a scenic site, but finally decided on Boot Canyon #4 and SW #3 just off the South Rim.

Continue reading TR-Big Bend NP Backpack South Rim Feb/March 1999

TR-Big Bend NP Family Trip April 1968

I don’t have any notes saved from this trip. I was only nine years old. I really fell in love with Big Bend during that trip; actually, with the whole idea of deserts and mountains. I’d been to Colorado on a family trip a few years earlier and recall being amazed at the mountains and the abandoned mines we saw high up on the slopes; and the scary drives over the unpaved roads along the mountainsides. But for some reason, on our trip to Big Bend something clicked.

I know this trip was around Easter Sunday, in 1968. Looking at a calendar I see that fell on April 14 that year; I’m guessing we were there for the week prior. I don’t think we got spring break in those days, either at my elementary school or for Dad’s job at UT.

I don’t remember the long drive out there on highway 290, although I can assume I was probably getting bored. But to this day I have a vivid recollection of the drive approaching the Chisos, as we began to ascend up The Basin road, past some drums full of water for overheated radiators. I kept staring at the rugged cliffs and thinking “Wow, I wonder what it’s like up there! Wandering around up there would be the greatest thing ever!”

Turns out I was right!

Cabins in the Basin (April 1968)
Continue reading TR-Big Bend NP Family Trip April 1968