Guadalupe Peak
& South Franklin Mountain


Guadalupe is a peakbagger's trifecta. South Franklin was just dessert.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

I've been casually collecting state highpoints for some time, and Texas (#18) was one of the few left that was really appealing. So I piggy-backed a trip to Guadalupe Peak with a work trip to San Antonio. That meant flying in to El Paso and driving the 100 miles out to the mountain. It also meant locking into a specific day, and hoping that everything worked out.

Well, to quote Maxwell Smart, I "missed it by that much." A virtual summit log on SummitPost said yesterday was clear. For me today, not so much.


Low cloud deck, windy. sigh

But I'd come all this way, and this was my only day. Might as well get going.

The trail starts out tough. They have applied lots of gravel, so if you walk fast it rolls and spits out from under your shoes. And then there are the "steps", designed with uneven spacing to break your rhythm and and overly tall rise to stress your glutes.


But the cloud deck added a little 'je ne sais quoi' that reminded me of pictures I had seen of the Huashan Trail.


There are several sections of narrow trail with extreme dropoffs. I was moving pretty fast when I went past this sign, and had to go back for a closer look. On the first pass, I thought it read:

Riders dismount and leap.

I really needed to wipe my glasses.


Not exactly Huashan, but the fog does add something?

And I had taken off my glasses, because they were dripping from the fog. So now I was in Mr. McGoo mode.


I knew there was a camping area near the summit. Then I thought I smelled a campfire.

Well, it was fire, but it was more than just something burning in the campground. But they don't know what caused it. I wonder what broiled yucca tastes like?

A little higher and I got another surprise. I had worried about the heat, but instead got rime ice. The ice explained why, down below, I was getting rained on, but only when I was under the trees. Approach
The summit views were outstanding! Approach

On the way down, the cloud deck lifted just a bit. That's the campground and trailhead down there.

I got just enough of a peek to be really sorry I'd missed all the scenery. It looks like spectacular country!


It had been a fun outing, but I needed a little something more. As I drove back toward El Paso, I also drove out of the clouds. The day would not end just yet.

I had done a a little research for a Plan B, and now that would serve as dessert. There's my peak, South Franklin Mountain, courtesy of Danger Dan's Steering Wheel Photography.

When I got to the trailhead, I could tell it was my kind of peak. Approach
The trail is not well marked. As a consequence, it braids all over the place. You can also see a path going straight up toward the little pinnacle on the ridge. I could see hikers all up the valley, so I wasn't too concerned. Approach

The way I went was fairly horrible. Just follow the eroded, loose, bouldery water courses straight up. If you feel off course, just look for the jettisoned empty plastic water bottles. But this is looking back down most of that.

That's North Franklin in the distance. It's a 2PK, and taller, but I skipped it because the trailhead access wasn't obvious.

There's where I was heading. Here, all of the sudden, the trail was marked. There were an occasional nifty trail sign, and also blue dots on the rocks. And switchbacks! Approach

When you get up to the ridge, there are two points connected by a cement sidewalk with a steel cable hand rail.

I walked up this way to the higher point until I got to the sign.



Now you can read the sign, too.

Note the round thingy just to viewer's left of my hat. That's the top of the tramway. Also note: I did not hear any yodelling.

Nice view! That's western El Paso creeping up the foothills. If you click for a bigger version, you can also see some of the trail I followed. And some of the REAL trail, following the ridgetop. Approach

I followed the ridgetop trail on my way back. MUCH nicer.

It's a little thin, and because it was new to me as a loop, I had to do a bit of downclimbing here.

Instead of scree slides, there was a pretty decent trail, the Joe Coleman trail. Approach
And I can't do an entire trip report without at least one flowie shot for my wife. Approach

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