The Bowl (via the Tejas Trail)
Starting up the Tejas Trail from Pine Springs
The starting point for this walk is the Pine Springs Campground very near the Visitor Center for Guadalupe Mountains National Park. We will do the Tejas Trail until we meet the Bowl Trail, then follow the Bowl Trail and do that little extension to takes us up Hunter Peak. Then we do the rest of the Bowl Trail loop, and go back the way we came. A week later we come up Bear Canyon instead (see link below) and then make a left to take the Bowl Trail to the Tejas Trail for our descent.
The elevation change is about 2,500 feet, and the distance covered is about 11.2 miles, although it felt longer.
Here is a view from the highway just a few miles after crossing the Texas border, coming south from New Mexico:
The cliff at left is El Capitan. The big peak to its right is Guadalupe Peak, highest in the range and also in Texas. And across the valley to the right, that lone tiny peak, like a pimple, is Hunter Peak.
You are not impressed? Too bad. What I mainly wanted to see on this hike is "The Bowl," a pine forest at about 8,000 feet (above mean sea level) in the Chihuahuan desert.
To the right of Hunter Peak you see a sizable canyon. That is Smith Canyon, at the bottom of which is Smith Spring. Between Hunter Peak and Smith Canyon lies another canyon, not nearly as visible from this angle: Bear Canyon. We will do that route to The Bowl next week.
So, let's start on the Tejas Trail and observe the vegetation. We start out on a canyon bottom, relatively well watered and protected from the dessicating sun to an extent, so there is good vegetation here until we gain some altitude.
Directly after leaving th parking area we encounter running water!
Shortly thereafter I encounter my first Texas Madrone tree:
There are plenty more Madrones along the way (it was about 92-94 degrees F all the way, so that white stuff on the trail and on the mountain is limestone:
Sometimes you ancounter a spot where there must be a water seep:
Soon we get the sensation that we are actually gaining a little altitude:
But in terms of altitude, we have a long way to go yet, but the terrain is drier now, both in looks and in fact, because of rockier and steeper slopes angled toward the sun:
Wherever the trail meets a drainage channel, there is more vegetation (first a downstream view, then an upstream view):
Are we making progress at all, in terms of elevation? Yes, as you can see by looking ahead (Guadalupe Peak in the distance):
Looking back also gives a sense of having gained altitude (rising sun in camera makes for strange color effects)
We will continue this walk on the next page.
Go to the Bowl Part 2: Halfway up the Tejas Trail
Go to the Bowl Part 3: Meeting the Bowl Trail
Go to the Bowl Part 4: The Bowl Trail toward Hunters Peak
Go to the Bowl Part 5: Hunters Peak
Go to the Bowl Part 6: From Hunters Peak to the top of Bear Canyon
Go to the Bowl Part 7: From Bear Canyon to the Juniper Trail
Go to the Bowl Part 8: Moving through the Bowl
Go to the Bowl Part 9: Closing the Bowl-Trail Loop
Go to Guadalupe National Park's 'Bowl' via the Bear Canyon Trail
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