“It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” – Robert W. Service
Why This Mountain?
Guadalupe Peak is a special peak for a number of reasons for Tami. This mountain is the state high point for Texas and Guadalupe is a National Park. Tami has never hiked a peak in Texas before and is very excited for this to be the first peak. She is also joined on this hike by a childhood friend from Texas. Reaching the highest peak in her home state will be a highlight moment.
Mountain & Route Facts
Guadalupe Peak, also known as Signal Peak, is the highest natural point in Texas, with an elevation of 8,751 feet (2,667 m) above sea level. It is located in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and is part of the Guadalupe Mountains range in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. The mountain is about 90 miles (140 km) east of El Paso and about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The peak rises more than 3,000 feet (910 m) above the arid floor of the Chihuahuan Desert.
The peak can be climbed by a maintained stony trail (4.25 miles or 6.8 kilometres each way) at any time of the year. The trail is part of the network of hiking trails in the surrounding national park. The trail is approximately 8.4 miles with 3,000′ of elevation gain. The steepest part of the trail is the first mile and a half. After about a mile and a half, the trail will become less steep as it passes a cliff and then turns around to the north-facing slope. Here, hikers will discover a small forest of pinion pine, south-western white pine, and Douglas fir. After nearly three miles the trail will top out at a false summit. It is still a little more than a mile to the actual summit. After passing the backcountry campsite, the trail descends slightly and crosses a wooden bridge. After the bridge, the trail begins the final climb to the summit. After only a few switchbacks, the top of El Capitan will dominate the view to the south. Eventually you will pass the horse hitching posts and arrive at the summit, where on a clear day you will be rewarded with a tremendous view of the surrounding mountains and desert.
A stainless steel pyramid marks the summit. It was erected by American Airlines in 1958 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Butterfield Overland Mail, a stagecoach route that passed south of the mountain. One side of the pyramid has the American Airlines logo. The second side displays a U.S. Postal Service tribute to the Pony Express Riders of the Butterfield Stage. The third side displays a compass with the logo of the Boy Scouts of America. A summit register contained in a metal ammunition box is located at the base of the pyramid.
Historical and Cultural Information
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas and contains Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet (2,667 m) in elevation. Located east of El Paso, it also contains El Capitan, long used as a landmark by people traveling along the old route later followed by the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line. Visitors can see the ruins of an old stagecoach station near the Pine Springs Visitor Center. The park covers 86,367 acres (134.95 sq mi; 349.51 km2) and is in the same mountain range as Carlsbad Caverns National Park which is located about 25 miles (40 km) to the north in New Mexico. Guadalupe was established as a National park on September 30, 1972.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the south central part of the country, Texas shares borders with the other U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.
Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texan state flag and on the Texan state seal. The origin of the state name, Texas, is from the word, “Tejas”, which means ‘friends’ in the Caddo language.
In 1835, Texas started down the road of independence. Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna personally led an army to end the revolt. The Mexican expedition was initially successful. General José de Urrea defeated all the Texian resistance along the coast culminating in the Goliad massacre. Santa Anna’s forces, after a thirteen-day siege, overwhelmed Texian defenders at the Battle of the Alamo. News of the defeats sparked panic amongst Texas settlers.
The newly elected Texian delegates to the Convention of 1836 quickly signed a Declaration of Independence on March 2, forming the Republic of Texas. After electing interim officers, the Convention disbanded. The new government joined the other settlers in Texas in the Runaway Scrape, fleeing from the approaching Mexican army. After several weeks of retreat, the Texian Army commanded by Sam Houston attacked and defeated Santa Anna’s forces at the Battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna was captured and forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco, ending the war.
One Texan industry that thrived after the Civil War was cattle. Due to its long history as a center of the industry, Texas is associated with the image of the cowboy. The state’s economic fortunes changed in the early 20th century, when oil discoveries initiated an economic boom in the state. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2010 it shares the top of the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with California at 57.