As promised, today’s hike post will be completely different. Jason and I just got back from a nine-day road trip through TX and NM, hitting different state and national parks along the way. There were six areas that we explored, but one of them (Carlsbad Caverns) wasn’t really a hike, so I won’t cover it here. Here’s how the hiking portion of our adventure went!
47. Back in December, Jason and I were supposed to go up to this park for a little mini-anniversary getaway. We had an airbnb booked for a weekend. Then Morrigan got sick with possible covid, and the whole house had to go into a two-week lockdown. Anniversary plans canceled for the second year in a row, boo! Colorado Bend is only 2.5 hours north of us, so we decided to hit this park before finishing our trek northwards. Originally, we planned to hike the Spicewood SpringsTrail, but time constraints led us to the Gorman Trail instead. It was a short out-and-back, but the last part was straight downhill (and then uphill on the return) to get to the falls. Like, literally there were railings to hold so that you could get down, and there were places that were so steep that on the way back, I was literally hauling myself up rocks with two hands. Most of the trail was fairly easy, but that part was STRENUOUS. Pretty, though! [Hike 32/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
48. A few of my friends have been to this park, so I was inspired to include it on our itinerary. I didn’t realize that Palo Duro is the largest canyon in the US behind the Grand Canyon in AZ. It was so strange to come across it – one minute, we were driving through flat farm/scrubland, then the next, a canyon gaped open to one side. It was incredible, one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen in TX. Because of the strenuous hike from the day before, plus a very intense amount of sun, we decided to stick to a lower, flatter trail (Kiowa Trail) rather than the more challenging climbs. It was beautiful even without a big climb, though. We saw a wild turkey family and all sorts of butterflies and grasshoppers. [Hike 33/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
49. Every single place we visited on this vacation was completely different, and White Sands was probably one of the most unique. It’s not for nothing that this is a national park! It’s so gorgeous there. We picked the perfect day for it, drizzling off and on and in the 50s for temps. I never thought a barefoot hike would be in my future, but this was seriously like beach sand. I hiked the whole thing without shoes on, and it felt amazing. Plus, we saw a rainbow when we entered the park, and that’s always a good omen! [Hike 34/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
50. We didn’t have particular plans on this day, but our airbnb was not too far off from another mountain range – the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument. So we picked out a trail that led out to some ruins, and enjoyed our day off. The weather was again so beautiful, in the 60s max. We saw deer, tarantulas, grasshoppers, butterflies, and frogs. Jason really enjoyed the historical elements related to the different ruins. And I discovered what exactly they mean by altitude affecting your hike! Even though this was a relatively easy hike with a gradual uphill rather than a taxing climb, I was so out of breath! Couldn’t figure out why, til I discovered that I was hiking about 5000 feet higher than my norm!! [Hike 35/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
51. Gotta be honest here – this was the one stop on our itinerary that I least looked forward to. The mountains were beautiful as we drove through them on our way to Carlsbad, NM, but all the trails were either too long, too strenuous, or too short and easy. There were only two moderate trails, and one of those was partly closed off due to recent rain. We chose the remaining one, and set off for what was meant to be a five-mile round-trip. Only about a quarter mile in, the trail dumped us off in a dry river bed with no signage. We followed the bed for another quarter mile before we were surrounded by boulders on all sides. Doubling back, we couldn’t find any clue as to where we were supposed to be. Neither our paper map or the digital map I’d downloaded helped. Eventually, we hiked back to the start and decided to hike part of the other trail instead. Only by the time we hiked to that trailhead, we were already suffering from the sun, heat, and exhaustion. A week of hiking was catching up with us, and the horrible food options in Carlsbad, NM, were doing a number on our systems. (More on that in my vacation post!) So instead, we turned around again, and decided to call it a day. This was our only failed hike on the trip. [Hike 36/52 for my 52 Hike Challenge.]
So there you go. Probably the most interesting hiking post I’ll write in 2021. It was an awesome trip with a lot of awesome (for the most part) parks! Next time, I’ll be back with more of the same-ol’-same-ol’. Heh.