Miles for Charity: Tips for Hiking Guadalupe Peak Solo |

Sep 7, 2017

Miles for Charity: Tips for Hiking Guadalupe Peak Solo

At the top of Guadalupe Peak National Park
Guadalupe Peak National Park

Howdy, my Texas lovers, let's start with the basic, shall we? I suppose this recap of climbin' The Peak has been a long time comin'. Afterall it has been roughly six months since the excursion took place. Well, today, today is that day, Y'all!

What is Guadalupe exactly? One of only two National Parks in the great state of Texas. Big Bend is the other. But, we'll get to that one later in this post, and I'll share more about my trip there in November and why this post is in conjunction with Ronald McDonald House. Guadalupe Peak has over 80 miles of trails with The Peak bein' the crown jewel of them all. The Peak of Guadalupe sits 8,749 ft. The highest elevation in Texas also known as "The Top of Texas." Every Texan who plans to explore the backcountry of Texas has it on their bucket list.

March of '17 I spent spring break in El Paso freelance writin' for Amtrack. Salt Flat Texas is only a hop, skip, and jump away by Texas standards. Climbin' The Peak is on my Texas bucket list. By now Y'all get the drift. So, I rented a Chevy early Wednesday. Gassed up, munched on Whataburger and headed East to the mountains. Was on the trails by 10 am, and the rest is history. Or, a blog post. A blog post with tips for Hiking Guadalupe Peak Solo.

Hiking Guadalupe Peak National Park
 So, you've decided you want to climb The Peak, eh? Seen all the Instagram photos. Scrolled through Pinterest jealous. Don't freak! You're just like me. How can you call yourself a true Texan if you've never climbed The Peak?
The first thing you need for climbin' The Peak solo or otherwise: willpower. I know you are lookin' at this goin', "come on Texas blogger. Give me somethin' tangible. What is this useless advice?" Hear me out. When you are alone or even in a small group if you don't have the willpower to say I'm settin' this goal and I won't stop until I achieve it, or my body can't physically move anymore, you won't survive. I saw so many people quit half-way and even less than a mile from the top.
What you have to know about Guadalupe is you'll start from the bottom and continue until you've reached the highest elevation in Texas. That's a lot on your body.  The first mile and a half are full of switch back after switch back. You'll have hiked over a mile only to constantly look down and realize you can still pick out your car in the lot. That can be overwhelmin'. You'll up and see nothin' but rock father than you can crane your neck. Mentally prepare yourself from the jump that this is somethin' you want.
Once your mental state is ready, you need your body to be as well. While a tad over eight miles may not seem much, it is when you are constantly goin' up. I suggest a few weeks before your trip find a few trails to practice. When you are on the mountain don't be ashamed to stop as often and as long as you need to. I know I did. Just make sure you arrive to the trails early so you are not comin' down in the dark.

Guadalupe Peak National ParkYou'll be hikin' a strenuous mountain.  Make sure somene you trust knows where you are and when you expect to be down from The Peak. If you watched my video recap I did the mornin' I returned from Guadalupe you know that my friends almost called Park services among other things and tried to get in contact with my Airbnb. It had taken me a few days to secure a rental car, and I  was on the mountain longer than I anticipated. I didn't realize that as soon as I hit the HWY headed East, I'd lose cell service until that night. So, make sure your friends or family know your exact location and when they should send word if they don't hear from you. I texted friends sayin' I'd arrived safely and then promptly shut off my phone the entire day to conserve battery all the while not realizin' none of the texts sent.
 SideNote: If you plan on backpakin' you have to check in at the Visitor Center to see if space is available. It's on a first come first serve basis. I find its always best to check in at a Ranger Station or Visitor Center. Yes, you can pay in the drop boxes before the trail, but I prefer human interaction. Talk with the Park Rangers and staff. Get the lay of the land. Grab a map. Learn of anythin' alarmin' you need to be made aware. Was there floodin'? Are certain portions of trails closed? Has there been an increase report of animals and insects to be wary?

Packing for Guadalupe Peak National Park
I've found that whether it be for a day hike, backpackin' trip or even travel, what gear you pack is the most important thing for a fruitful and safe trip. Over the last few years, I've become 
sort of a minimalist in my packs. I'd love to be trendy and say it's because I love our planet, want to reduce my carbon footprint. But, I'd be lyin' if I made all those claims. The truth is simple. I'm tiny. The less I pack, the more room for camera gear.

A few weeks ago I went and got fitted for a new Liter pack for my upcomin' backpackin' trips. The poor girl at REI didn't believe me when I told her I was tinier than I looked and that it always took forever to fit me for anythin'. About an hour later I finally had a new pack. And of course, it wasn't on discount like all the others. I really wanted my new pack to match my day pack but all the ones that went along with my day pack didn't condense enough to fit me. Such is life I suppose.

But, on to packin' for Guadalupe or any day hike in general.

Clothin': What you wear for the intended terrain or weather is always the most important. For Guadalupe, I wore hikin' pants I got at REI and packed my Purple Columbia jacket. The pants have two side pockets that zip. This came in handy for easy access to snacks. You have to remember this is Texas. I hiked The Peak in March. In Texas, you never know if it'll be hot or cold still. And when you reach that high of elevation the wind starts to pick up. It's not pictured, but over my sports bra and under my Namaste in Texas tank top I had a NorthFace breathable tank-top that's dry-fit and made to soak water or sweat. And hikin' The Peak in March, Y'all know I sweated dang good.

Socks: I know the smaller, the better has become the norm for the average day but not for hikin'. Think of it this way: the taller and thicker the socks are the less chance your boots or hikin' shoes have to chafe you. The shoes I prefer are hikin' shoes from Columbia. I used to own a pair of hikin' boots. I wore them till I couldn't, but I was never fond of them.

Water: Next, to wearin', the proper clothes water is the most important thing you'll pack. Many of the State and National Parks on the Western side of Texas do not have places to get water on the trail. And the little water you find is not allowed to be touched as it's for the local wildlife. For The Peak, I packed two 32 ounces Nalgene bottles and 32 ounces of an electrolyte drink, and it wasn't near enough. I can not stress enough that water is not only vital but does no good if you don't drink it. The hikin' pack I brought has small slots on the sides. I attached a carabiner to my Nalege bottles and then attached them to the sides of the sack for easy access. The bottles you see in the picture I just purchased about 4 of them along with the few I already had for my trip to Caprock and ultimately Big Bend. We plan on carryin' at least a gallon daily. It'll probably increase as I continue trainin' and we do a few smaller hikes and see what's needed.

Snacks: Growin' up I spent years playin' the Flute, and I eventually joined the marchin' band at my high school that regularly competed at the state level. I spent years marchin' in the heat carryin' heavy things. Durin' that time I got to understand myself. Through college, I turned to runnin' to maintain some sense of movement. I'll be honest in that I'm not a massive eater when I'm exercisin'. It would always leave me weighted down and uncomfortable. That same feelin' and mentality carried over to my hikin', but I do my best to stop and eat. You are what you put into your body. And your body needs fuel. Especially when hikin' The Peak. I've found that light things, such as fruit and easy ways to consume mass protein work for me. I packed some oranges, jerky, Larry Protein Cookies, fruit leather strips, Larabars, and nuts. Personally, Epic Jerky has become my favorite. Jerky can get borin' and mundane, but Epic allows for variety. I suggest the Salmon and Bison flavors; If you do try them let me know how you end up likin' them.

MSC: As nice as it is to reduce your pack and travel light, there are always items that should come along. The small flowered case is a hard case wallet. I carry valuable information: insurance card, credit card, emergency contact information as well as a car key. You always want to be prepared if you become unconscious and found. A flash light, first-aid kit, medicine as well as somethin' that holds small scissors and a knife, etc. Chapstick, hair ties, bobby pins and hand sanitizer. Often I'll even carry my small leather travel notebook.

The very first time I went on a hike I was around 7 or 8. My mom was our troop leader. But, that's not why I'll never forget my first campin trip. We got lost on the trail and were in the woods for hours in winter without gloves. I'll never forget how cold it was. Well, cold for Texas. When in the backcountry or nature, in general, be prepared for anythin'. Have enough food in case stuck for a day, as well as somethin' to start a fire. That's why I always carry emergency items even on a day hike. 

Respect nature and she'll respect you right back. When I was in scouts, they always used to tell us, " A Girl Scout leaves a place cleaner than she found it." That motto has stuck with me even now.

It's ok to struggle and be nervous. If you don't, you're not human. But remember the result. The view at the top will be worth it.

I know Y'all  have been itchin' to know how this is in conjunction with Ronald McDonald House. I was first introduced to RMHC when I was 12. The elementary school I attended in Dallas had Beta Club. I was a member and a few times durin' the school year when went to our local Ronald McDonald House and played games with the children. Currently, I am a member of the Dallas Junior League. One of our 42 partner agencies that we provide service hours and money to is Ronald McDonald House. I love their mission- "Create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families. A world where all children have access to medical care, and their families are supported and actively involved in their children's care."

In 2016 alone Ronald McDonald House provided over 2.4 million kids with overnight stays so family and friends could be closer durin' treatment. 

In the video posted below, you'll not only be able to see a recap of my trip hikin' The Peak, but you'll be able to see the #JuggleForRaiseLove I was provided at the end of the video and learn a little more about my next trip and fundraisin' efforts.

I turn 30 Septemeber 29th, and if you've been followin' along on Instagram and Facebook, then you know that I've been trainin' to hike the Outer Mountain Loop at Big Bend. The other National Park in Texas on the western side of the state. 30 miles for my 30th birthday. The backpackin' trip will take three days as we'll do 10 miles a day. I'll be hikin' Big Bend in November when it's safer, and the Ranger Stations reopen. Even at the end of Septemeber it will be unsafe and advised against hikin' because of the Texas heat and havin' to carry your water.  The weekend of my birthday we'll be doin' some small trips at CapRock Canyon. Y'all it's my life's goal to camp with Bison, and now I finally will. I could cry from my excitement. 

So, not only will I be makin' a donation but I am challenin' all Y'all to join me in fun. Let's add another zero to that 30 and raise 300 dollars for a valuable non-profit. If you feel so inclined to; I call this effort "Miles for Charity."

You'll be able to keep up with all my progress via social media @glitzngrits and see the results in November.

To donate click this link. In the search just type #TravelinTexan Big Bend to find the team I started with my best friends who'll join' me on the trip.


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