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  • Steve Goldsby

Guadalupe Peak - "strenuous"?

It's hotter than seven Hells here by mid-day (100 degrees) so the best time to get started on this trail is EARLY! Some folks hike up to the campground on day 1 and then hike the peak the next morning. I passed a bunch of folks on the way up and they said the wind was brutal all night - upwards of 60mph - and they couldn't sleep because the tent kept coming undone.

I drove from Whites City RV park to the trailhead early and arrived around 0745 after a 40 minute drive. I was on the trail by 0800.

A few things about this hike. 1) It's rated "Strenuous" on the signage. This is not true. This trail is BRUTAL. 2) You start at about 5800 feet above sea level and end about 8700 ft above sea level. If you're not acclimated it can be especially challenging. 3) In the summer, even though the temperature may read 75 or 80 degrees in the morning, the clear skies and sun make it feel much hotter. You will start sweating soon. By noon it's 100 degrees. 4) The views over the valley are spectacular every step of the way. On the way up, just when you think the views can't get any better they do.

4.2 miles up doesn't sound like much, but given the incline and the technical nature of the hike (lots of loose rocks and odd steps) it's exhausting. There are a few places along the route where the path levels out for a hundred meters or so. Don't be fooled! This is a trap to build your confidence. The beatings will continue until your morale improves.

I found it amazing how in this desolate, dry, brutal environment that life finds a way. Lots of beautiful surprises along the way like the flowers.

I estimated I'd finish this hike in 4 hours. WRONG. Every time I thought I was making progress, I'd get to a view of the peak and.. .well, it just kept moving farther away.

Still, looking back over the trail every few minutes, gasping for air, was unbelievable. The visibility was amazing.

The last .25 miles was brutal because of the altitude and the 50 degree incline. I nearly turned back just a few minutes before then I rounded the corner and there it was.

Finally, at 2:46 I hit the peak. And the most incredible views you can imagine

Now check out THIS view:]

SAFETY: Bring a gallon of water. I took three liters since I was starting early I didn't think I'd need much more. I was wrong. I hydrated all along the route and paced my consumption by drinking 2 liters on the way up, but was starting to dehydrate by the time I got to the peak. Also, bring carbs and some way to get salt and magnesium back into your system. An apple and some Liquid IV or Gatorade is a good choice. I was cramping before I reached the peak and there folks all along the route struggling. My Garmin estimated I sweated out over 4L of liquid.

If you hump it you should be able to do this hike in 5.5 - 8 hours. Going down is even more technical than going up because gravity is helping you slip and stumble all the way down. But it is faster.

Here's some clickable telemetry if you're interested:


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Jun 18, 2023

Stunning photos, Steve!


Jun 17, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Mate! love reading your blogs of your adventures and seeing the pics.


Jun 17, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Way to go Steve, not sure I could have made the climb myself! Great notes and the pictures are amazing!! And I love the Hat!


Laura Michelle Lichoff-James
Laura Michelle Lichoff-James
Jun 17, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Don't be fooled! This is a trap to build your confidence. The beatings will continue until your morale improves. LOL Glad you are having a trip of a lifetime!

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