06 March 2006 Monday

Early morning start, heading for Emory Peak, 7,825 feet, the second highest peak in Texas (the highest in Guadalupe Peak, also on our list).  It’s about a four mile hike, but the last mile has a 900 ft elevation gain.  900 feet!  In one mile!  OUCH!!  We were feeling good about hiking today, despite hiking 10 miles yesterday.  When we got to the base of the peak, the last 40-50 feet was a rock climb.  It wasn’t hard from a climbing aspect, but the exposure!  Oh my god!  We were well over two thousand feet above the Chisos Basin, we’re on a rock outcropping that’s maybe 100 feet across, the wind was blowing and small birds called Swifts were soaring everywhere.  Holy #%@#, it was scary!  Ok, ok, we’re up here… take some pictures… GET ME DOWN FROM HERE!!   The climbing down was scary too, because you had to look down and you could see the entire basin two thousand feet below.  Yikes!  On our way down, again we run into our friend-who-looks-like-our-friend-Coyote.  With a full dose of adrenaline, we hiked 4 miles back to camp, rest a while and pack up to hike out.  On our hike out, we see more deer that didn’t seem certain about our intent.  We took our photos and went on.

We had scheduled to stay another night and even though we’d just hiked twelve hard miles, we opted to hike out early and splurge on a dinner at the Chisos Mountain Lodge, the only restaurant in the park.  Since we came out early, we had to get a permit to camp in the backcountry for the night.  When we got to the park office, we discovered that the park office in the basin closes at 3:30.  Surprise [:O]

We had to drive 20+ miles to the Panther Junction Office which stays open later, to get out permit.  The permits are free, but it does help disperse people and help in your camping enjoyment, but also let’s the ranger know where people are in case of emergency.  So, after getting our permit, we drove back to the Lodge and split a hamburger “Big as Texas” and did some serious damage to their salad bar.  And drank an entire pitcher of water!  We got to our camp for the night, stuffed our backpacks in the cab of the truck and fell asleep.  We’ll deal with unpacking in the morning. 

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