Spring Break 2001

Spring Break 2001

Being a cataloging of events from March 9, 2001 to March 15, 2001.

March 9

Picked up from College Station; we wound our way to Austin where we roughed it at a friend's house.

March 10

From Austin, a long drive to White's City, New Mexico; just outside Carlsbad Caverns. We set up camp at White's City, and acquired provisions from Carlsbad.

Our tent at White's City Our home away from home.

March 11

Off to Carlsbad Caverns. Among the many neat things they had at the visitors center was a nifty little CD-walkman you could rent for $3 for a self guided tour of the cave and the walk down. The neat thing about these was they automatically started the appropriate segment as you walked by the appropriate area. I was impressed...

At any rate, we opted to take the natural entrance; a 1-mile route descending @750 feet.

Natural Entrance Natural entrance. Also, at the right time of year, where the bats come out. Unfortunately, we were there at the wrong time of year to witness the evening bat flights.

Entrance, seen from below A view of the entrance, as seen from within the cave.

StalagmiteAs the audio guide mentioned several times, a mnemonic for remembering which is which between stalactite and stalagmite: "A stalagmite is on the ground, someday it *might* be taller. A stalactite holds *tight* to the ceiling."

The Witch's Finger The Witch's Finger. Neat looking stalagmite.

Random Picture I'll be honest. I don't know what this is supposed to be. I'm sure it was important though.

Rock formation Interesting rock pattern.

Big Room? I *think* this is a look across the Big Room. One of the lessons learned on this trip was that I desparately need to get a new digital camera...and take notes to correspond with pictures.

Hall of Giants One of the giants in the Hall of Giants. Without a frame of reference, it's hard to tell that this particular stalagmite is somewhere around 6 stories tall.

After we finished our tour of the caverns, we took a detour on a scenic drive past a few points of interest.

Random Picture 2 Again, I'm sure it was important at the time, but I have no recollection what this is supposed to be of...

Eric and a cave Eric in front of a small cave.

Also along the scenic drive was a trailhead for the Rattlesnake Canyon trail. We hiked along that for 3-4 hours. It was a barely marked trail, following a dry riverbed. A nice hike, and the ups and downs of it were good preparation for Guadalupe Peak.

March 12

We drove to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and hiked the 4.2 miles and 2,900 feet up to Guadalupe Peak. Trip up: 4.5 hours. Down: 2.5 hours. Gravity can be handy at times. 30-40 mph gusts most of the way up, and bitingly cold as well. But we survived; albeit with some nice windburn and sore legs.

Eric on trail Eric ahead of me on the trail. (I was pretty much the anchor which kept us at a nice slow pace so we could appreciate the view. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

Josh on trail Josh with backdrop. Note again the need for a better camera.

Snow on trail A look back at the trail, and the snow which was common as we neared the top.

El Capitan A view of El Capitan.

Guadalupe Peak Eric and Josh at the marker on the peak. One of the interesting things in the guestbook that was available to sign were complaints about how the marker was an eyesore. I suppose it's true that it isn't a natural formation, but I hardly think it's as bad as all that. Ah well. You can't please everybody.

Guadalupe Peak Eric by the marker.

Guadalupe Peak Josh by the marker. Incidentally that is not a laser; it's yet another little incentive for me to upgrade my camera. Sorta humorous though, eh?

Guadalupe Peak Me, by the marker. My hair was a frequent source of amusement in the morning, when it was in even more disarray.

And then, as mentioned, we headed back down. The only real problem encountered were the areas where the snow covered the trails and traction was minimal. More than one or two slips; and down was much harder than up had been at those points.

March 13

We broke camp and headed out to the Living Desert Zoo on the edge of Carlsbad. I learned the names (and promptly forgot a good 90% of them) of the various vegetation we were constantly seeing. The animal exhibits were well done as well, and Eric and I were inordinately amused by the prarie dogs. Although despite our rooting for it, the live trap in their exhibit claimed none of them while we watched. We wandered around the Zoo for 2-3 hours, including a really nifty exhibit of succulents of the world. Cacti are pretty much pointy the world over, apparently.

Back on the road again, we headed to White Sands, New Mexico. We arrived towards evening at the Oliver Lee Memorial Park campground. It is a *very* nice campground. Sheltered tables at the campgrounds, a lighted walkway to the bathrooms, showers, and cheap too. Recommended, should you be looking for a place to camp near there.

We pitched camp and zipped off to see White Sands at night. Unfortunately, we discovered that since Eric had last been there, they changed their hours, and we had barely an hour left before they closed the park for the night. So we made the most of it and wandered out onto the dunes. I had never seen White Sands before; it was extraordinary.

White Sands 1 Eric and Josh at White Sands.

White Sands 2 View of White Sands.

March 14

The Valley of Fire is an ancient lava flow. A path about a mile long loops through it. A nice touch is that you are allowed to wander off the path to examine any formation that catches your eye (at your own risk, of course).

 Valley of Fire 1  Eric and Josh atop a fairly large lava rock.

Valley of Fire 2 Slightly different view of same rock.

After the valley of fire, we headed to the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site. It is an area with approximately 21,000 rock carvings. We spent about 3 hours wandering among them.

To round out the day, we visited the Three Rivers Campground area, and spent a few hours hiking along a river (never did find out the name of it).

March 15

I got very little sleep the night before. The wind had picked up and battered our tent all night; bending it to the point where the poles bopped me in the head a few times until I shifted so it was just fabric hitting me. This kept up pretty much all night. We also ended up with a minor dental emergency, so we ended our trip a day early and spent the next 12 hours or so headed back to College Station and Houston. And that was pretty much that.