When it comes to adventure, it’s important to be intentional. That means planning ahead and having something hard or challenging to look forward to. Several months ago I set my sights on a new adventure, one that I know may take a while to accomplish — to make it to the summit of the seven named peaks in Texas that are 8,000 feet and higher in elevation.
Hiking or scrambling up anything higher than Enchanted Rock is a big deal for a flat-lander like me. That’s because I grew up in a place so flat that a fellow could see his dog running away for three days and maybe four if he stood atop a tuna fish can. That’s pretty flat! I have no doubt that God designed me to enjoy the oxygen-rich atmosphere of low places.
But I also know that God designed me for much more — for higher places. And venturing to higher places requires leaving the kind of geography where breathing is easy and our legs don’t burn or cramp up when we walk. One thing is certain, going up is hard. Elevation gain does not come easy. At some point it all starts to hurt. But if you keep at it, the payoff is definitely worth every painful step.
Two years ago I set my sights on making it to the top of Guadalupe Peak — the highest point in the Lone Star State. The hike is rated as strenuous and the elevation gain on the narrow and rocky trail is brutal. But, hiking at my own pace, I reached the highest point in Texas on December 2, 2014. I will never forget that day or the feeling of accomplishment.
Since then, I have learned that there are seven named peaks in the Lone Star State that rise more than 8,000-feet into the Texas sky. These seven peaks are a bucket list unto themselves, even for a flat-lander like me. In order of height, they are:
• Guadalupe Peak | 8,749 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Bush Mountain | 8,631 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Shumard Peak | 8,615 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Bartlett Peak | 8,508 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• Mount Livermore | 8,378 feet | Davis Mountains
• Hunter Peak | 8,368 feet | Guadalupe Mountains
• El Capitan | 8,085 feet | Guadalupe Mountain
So, a few months ago I started planning my latest adventure to the highest points in Texas. My friend Doyle Lowry agreed to join me on this first phase of the adventure to summit Guadalupe Peak, Bush Mountain, and Hunter Peak. This past Monday, we crammed all of our gear into Doyle’s pick-up truck and headed to Guadalupe Mountains National Park at 4:30 in the morning.
Over the course of three days we made it to the top of Texas and signed the register atop Guadalupe Peak. We also made it to the top of Bush Mountain. We hiked somewhere in the neighborhood of six miles up steadily rising switchbacks just to get to the trailhead to Bush Mountain. Bush Mountain was the least spectacular of our three summits but we were happy to check it off the list.
After Bush Mountain, we set our sights on Hunter Peak. Reaching the summit was the absolute highlight of our trip. The views were even more spectacular than we imagined. In our estimation, Hunter Peak is the hidden gem of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, boasting the most spectacular views of Texas.
We ended the week’s adventure by hiking McKittrick Canyon. Other than Lost Maples State Natural Area, this is the best spot in Texas to see and enjoy the Fall colors. McKittrick Canyon is definitely a Texas treasure.
As you look to the year ahead, be as intentional as possible in planning affordable adventures. Get outdoors and see beautiful places near you. Plan something hard that will stretch you and require that you do a lot of preparation ahead of time. God did not design us to stay indoors or to watch other people do hard stuff. He blessed us with the capacity for more than that.