Highpointing: Guadalupe Peak, Texas

Guadalupe Peak is a favorite for many highpointers and after visiting it is easy to see why. It is a stunning area, unlike anything else in Texas. The peak rises up off the desert floor, a giant ancient ocean reef that looks like an massive wall in the distance. El Capitan stands like an indomitable sentinel in front of the highpoint itself. Guadalupe Peak is very photogenic; I wanted to just keep shooting photos of it the whole time. If I was more inclined to painting this could easily become a favorite subject, depending on the time of day the light just dances across it.

Created using GoArt at Fotor.com

We climbed and filmed this in the middle of December 2017. My buddy Brett Evenstad flew in from San Diego and we stayed at an AirBnb in El Paso for the weekend. We drove out there both days. The best part of this was the opportunity to get some great photos and footage of the peak at various times of the day.

On the day of our ascent we arrived at 6am. It was still dark, and the temperature was 26 degrees at the trailhead. We stepped off at 6:20 and used headlamps for about thirty minutes before the sun started to creep above the horizon. We were able to take in the sunrise off the shoulder, another cool sight to see. Frankly there was no shortage of scenic views on this hike. The trail was easy to follow though there was some ice patches on the parts through the ponderosa pine forest. We reached the summit at 9:30am and the wind was already kicking. At 8,750 it is the tallest thing around and the wind just whips across the summit. We had to keep a hand on the tripod and camera at all times to keep it from toppling over.

There was a lone scrub bush at the summit that served as our respite from the wind. The bush had clearly filled this role for many other hikers before. Despite the wind, the views on top Guadalupe Peak were amazing. The desert just stretches out before you to the south and looking to the north you get an amazing view of the park and the next three highest points in the state. On a side note, if you are flying to El Paso from the east there is a good chance you will also get a view of it from the plane. It is just as striking from several thousand feet up as well.

This episode is my favorite to date. Despite the challenge of the wind everything seemed to come together, script-wise, filming, and music. A ton of credit goes to Brett for how this was filmed. He really captured the feel of the place and the addition of the gimbal he brought added a whole other level to the production value of the episode. I do wish we had had more time there. Another day at a minimum would have allowed us to explore McKittrick Canyon and Devils Hall. Both locations would have been great additions to the episode.

Musically I branched out bit for this one. The first half of the episode is anchored by a piece called “Solitude of an Era” by Alexander Nakarada of Serpent Sound Studios. It had all the sweeping drama to accompany a dramatic location with a fascinating history. On the ascent section I wanted to ease off just a bit but still maintain that western feel. For that I turned to Brett Van Donsel and his piece entitled Rattlesnake Railroad. Reminiscent of Ennio Morricone’s Dollars trilogy music it brings the fun and flair I wanted to impart for the hike but still maintain that dramatic edge.

I highly recommend the hike up Guadalupe Peak. It is a beautiful place with a great history and some of the best views in Texas. Come prepared though because the desert can be merciless and there is no shortage of sun and wind. I look forward to getting back out there to explore Guadalupe Mountains National Park in more detail.

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