While riding along the Texas plains, the Guadalupe mountains tower majestically into the sky. Landscapes are diverse, views are grand and enticing-backpacking/hiking mecca. There are ten back country campgrounds with 80 miles of trails to explore. Sixty percent of the trails are suitable for horses. Desert and canyon trails are less strenuous; hence, the Smith Spring trail, rated "moderate" was appropriate for us(2.3 mile loop). At the trailhead we met a UK visitor, Ian. The three of us set off to discover the sustainer of life for this parched land. The goal of reaching the lush streamside woodlands was realized our eyes took in the beauty of colorful deciduous trees. 1870-1880's ranch remains in tact at the trailhead. The spring waters collect at Manzanita Spring. Interestingly, the settlers dammed the water.
This national park was little known to us. It is a fine example of an ancient marine fossil reef. It is an eery feeling walking on grond that was a vast tropical ocean. The ground has left behind evidence this reef uplifted a mountain under the sea.
Imagine our surprise discovering a 4x4ehicle trail in a national park. Just what the Tracker is suited for...after checking out the gate key at park HQ, we took off on a 7.3 mile(one way) adventure. The road to the Williams' ranch follows the route of the old Butterfield Overland Mail Stage li The house was built in 1908. It is hard to comprehend rugged perservance just to barely sustain life in a seemingly God forsaken land!
For VERY good reason, our itinerary changed. The plan was to take in Carlsbad Caverns. Much to our delight a special rendevous came to be reality with little planning. We connected with Dee(Corky's son) and family(Kai; Naiomi). Dee is career Air Force soon deploying for Iraq. It was a special reunion!
The next entry is a trip to the wild west!!!