We left Big Bend riding the orangey waves that tucked us in and that greeted us the following morning. We were grateful for the golden light, but we were heading onward to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
Continuing northwest, we drove to the border of Texas and New Mexico. My eyes traced the long, monotonous stretches of the Chihuahuan Desert but were greeted by mountains ahead: Guadalupe Peak and El Capitan.
After taking our cliche national park sign picture, we checked out the visitor center to pay for our site, get the weather forecast, and ask for any recommended hikes. We learned the park was windy. The average gusts were 45-60 miles-per-hour. The campsite was at the mouth of a valley, so essentially a giant wind tunnel. This, naturally, led to a very comical scene of us trying to set up our tent. At several points our tent attempted to fly away, the wind billowing the rain cover like an unlashed sail. Some disgruntled words were shared as the stakes weren’t penetrating the ground, but rocks were found, and the tent was safely staked.
We had four to five hours of daylight, so we decided to complete a short hike on the McKittrick Canyon Trail to Pratt Cabin, a 4.8-mile round trip. The canyon hike led through a fossilized reef that was once under water millions of years ago. The trail featured white slabs and interesting desert vegetation. The Pratt’s stone cabin served as our stopping point. We honestly used it as a potty spot. Nicholas went one way into the brush, and I went another. As I squatted, I couldn’t help but remember the park ranger’s warning about the resident cats. I looked left and right with my bent knees paranoid that a mountain lion could swipe me at any moment with my drawers down.