Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bush Mountain Overnight - 8631 feet, Second Highest Peak in Texas

The second highest peak in Texas. I wasn’t sure if my 10 year old was ready for such a strenuous overnight trip. She has done well on some pretty difficult day hikes, but never with this much wight on her back.

My 10 year old Daughter high on the Tejas Trail - Guadalupe Mountains National Park
My wife was out of town for the weekend leaving me and my oldest home alone. I knew we could spend the weekend watching TV or do something we would never forget. So we headed out early to the Guadalupe Mountains for a quick overnight trip.

This was the first time my daughter would get to use her new Deuter Fox 40 pack that Santa had brought last year. We had gone backpacking before, but she had always used one of my daypacks, which really didn’t fit her torso. This would be different in a lot of ways. Higher elevation gain, more miles, and a pack that weighed in at 15 pounds (a good 20% of her body weight.)

My Daughter and her Deuter Fox 40 pack, staring into the fog. 
I didn’t make her carry much. Just one liter of water, a sleeping bag, rain shell, jacket, some cold weather base layers, and a few snacks. I was carrying the rest, witch in dry, drought stricken West Texas was more then 28 pounds of just water. Its nearly impossible to go ultra light West Texas.

We got to the Guadalupes early, filled out our backcountry permit, and headed up the Tejas Trail. It would be 3.9 miles and over 2500 feet of elevation gain before we reached our campsite. A thick fog covered the Pine Springs valley as we set off on our hike. The red bark and berries of the Madera Tree really stood out against the fog. A few miles further up we began to see the edge of the fog slowly struggling to climb the same mountain as us. It lightly danced and played with the contours of the mountain in an erie sort of way. We stopped to eat lunch just above 6500 feet and watch the fog interact with the mountain. It slightly freaked out my daughter who wanted to continue before the fog caught up to us again. We continued to gain altitude until we could see the fog was actually an inversion layer extending out over the flat desert to the East.

A Madera Tree low on the Tejas Trail. The fog really made the red berries and red bark stand out. 
Fog filling the Pine Springs Valley below Guadalupe Peak
Fog in Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Starting to get ahead of the fog just before lunch.
Watching the Fog Play with the mountain.
Fog - Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Looking down the Tejas Trail covered in fog.
Looking out at an inversion layer covering the desert in the East
By mid afternoon the inversion layer had all but burned off. 
We made it to camp just before sun down. We spent the night at the Pine Top campground at 8250 feet, just 500 feet below Texas highest elevation. We ate dinner and played a few rounds of “There’s something in my fathers store.” before hitting the sacks early. The next morning we would continue another 2.3 miles to the top of Bush Mountain, The second highest in Texas.

Looking East from our campsite at sunrise
Sunrise in the Guadalupe Mountains
The Bush Mountain Trail looked deceptively flat on the map following a high ridge just north of Pine Springs Canyon. In Actuality it proved to be more than 4 or 5 ups and downs of about 200 - 500 feet each. The peak itself was rather anti climatic rising gradually over a long distance. And the summit itself was rather elusive. Looking at the map now I’m not sure we ever made it to the top. If we did we found no summit marker, no summit log, or anything to really distinguish the summit. We did, however, find outstanding views of Pine Springs Canyon, Texas’ four highest peaks, and the salt flats to the west. We sat on the top for a little over 30 minutes taking in the views. We couldn't stay long as we still had to break down camp and hike 6.2 miles back out to our car.

Hiking toward Bush Mountain.
Nearing the summit of Bush Mountain
On the Bush Mountain Trial Just below the summit
Summit View looking down Pine Springs Canyon
Salt Flats to the West
Bartlett Peak 8508 feet - Bush Mountain's nearest neighbor. 
As we finished out what proved to be a 9 mile day my poor 10 year old was very tired. She had really impressed me though. Having hiked such great distances and elevations with hardly a grumble. It was nice to get out of the house for a while and share one of my favorite mountain ranges with my daughter. I hope and pray she will continue to love the outdoors as much as she seems to now.

A small horned toad my daughter caught on the Bush Mountain Trail
Looking up at the Tejas Trail
The Hike:
Distance: 6.2 Miles One Way
Starting Elevation: 5734 feet
Ending Elevation: 8631 feet
Elevation Gain: 2897 feet

Resources:
I use both the Map and Guide book featured below when planning my many trips to the Guadalupe Mountains. I highly recommend them to anyone wishing to hike there. Purchase them through these links and help support MyLifeOutdoors.


Getting There: 
Trailhead:  31°53'47.95"N 104°49'42.84"W
Pine Top Camp: 31.918911"N 104.845963"W
Summit: 31.929693"N 104.879951"W




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18 comments:

  1. Definitely a better alternative than watching TV!

    Our 8-year-old son has a Deuter Fox 40 as well (and our 6-year-old daughter has the smaller Deuter Fox 30 - the 3-year-old only carries her teddy in a tiny backpack). We've had the Deuters for a couple of years now and they've been used regularly - not only when backpacking but also on train trips etc. Actually I carry a Deuter myself, too. I have a short back and their SL series fits my back excellently. We've been happy with our Deuters and I think they are of good quality.

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  2. I have a Deuter kid Carrier that I carry our 2 year old in. I love it. It was the main reason why Santa decided to bring the Fox 40. I am impressed with Deuter and will look into their adult packs next time I'm in the market. Thanks for reading.

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  3. What great memories you've made with your daughter. That's great to get your kid outdoors at such a young age. I love your photos of the fog.

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  4. Sometimes I feel I walk a delicate line between teaching her to love the outdoors and growing up to "hate the hikes my dad made me go on." as I have heard other people say.

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  5. What a wonderful and inspiring blog today filled with helpful information, photos, family fun, and a really nice map and chart. Perfect in every way just like your hike. Thanks for sharing with us all.

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  6. Misti @oceanicwilderness.comFebruary 21, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    Nice hike post! We camped at Pine Top on our last night of a Thanksgiving weekend excursion last year. Maybe next time we'll hit up Bush Mtn.

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  7. Have you ever seen Tejas Camp? It is one of my favorites. Deep in a valley, forest all around. I once had some deer practically attack me there one time. I have always wanted to go back.

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  8. Great post. I have a 10 year old daughter as well and would love to hike in the Guadalupes with her. Nice to know that yours held up so well on such a strenuous hike. How did you end up on your water? Would you take less next time on a winter hike? How were the winds?

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  9. Looks like a great trip. I love seeing the Guads enveloped in fog. Your daughter did a great job!

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  10. We took this trip in late October last year. I carried 5 liters (2.5 liters each) per day. She carried one liter and I had 9. I think we pored out 2 liters before hiking out, which means we could have gotten away with 8 liters total (or 2 liters per person per day) but I wanted to err on the safe side. Normally in colder months (and with no children) I would only carry 2 liters per person per day. This got me in a little trouble once on a early march trip in Big Bend where I and a friend ran out of water several miles from our car. The NPS recommends one gallon (3.8 liters) per person per day, and in hotter months I wouldn't take anything less.

    As far as the wind it wasn't bad this trip. The Guads are notorious for their high winds (with 100 mph gusts being quite common). I have hiked in the guads where I was literally blown off the trail or smacked in the face by my tent all night due to high winds. But the wind was quite calm this trip which allowed the fog to linger and play the way it did.

    If you end up taking a trip to GMNP I would love to hear about it.

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  11. Thanks, fog like that is rare in the Guads

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  12. What a great post! She's always going to remember this hike. You must be very proud of her. I loved the shots of the fog as well.

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  13. That reminds me of a group backpacking trip in Joshua Tree where I once carried 5 gallons of water along with all my gear. The desert can be brutal. It must be exciting to be able to share that experience with your daughter.

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  16. Great post! I have 8yo & 6yo daughters that have done some tough day hikes, to the top of Baldy peak most recently, and I've been looking at some kids' backpacks, so we'll check out your recommendation. Nice pictures, too. That tree with the reddish bark is a Madrone tree, striking when you see them!

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