Guadalupe Mountains National Park

We totally blew past Highway 137 without seeing it the first time on our way to Dog Canyon Campground in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Its around 55 miles to the campground and theres no gas whatsoever so regardless I would have needed to have gone the extra 14 miles past the turn to Carlsbad to fill up and backtrack. However, I was still trying to keep an eye for it so I’d know where to turn. It ended up being across from Brantley Dam on the other side of the highway with nothing else but desert scrub land for miles and miles. I guess we were to distracted by the only thing of interest in ages and missed our turn.

This is one of those New Mexican roads that you better be prepared for if you intend on going down it, as the numerous signs will inform you. I love how the signs roughly translate to warning eminent death ahead.

Theres the Beware of desert storms, Beware of flooding, caution poisonous insects, animals and plants and Make sure you have enough gas and water sign.

No gas, no water, no telephones, if you need help good luck!

Danger poison gas! They aren’t lying, when I worked in the oil fields we had to wear H2S monitors on our belts and the guy I replaced was paralyzed on half his body and now in a wheel chair after getting a lung full of the stuff.

Oh and by the way theres no fences either so beware of suicide cows šŸ˜‰ They should have had a warning for kamikaze birds too. A guy in a Jetta with his arm out the window waved to us and I went to wave back and caught a bird, beak first, in my palm at 40mph. Ouch! It landed in my lap and flopped around a few seconds before it fell off the bike. It left a hole in my glove and left a nickle sized bruise at the base of my index finger. I guess now I can relate to the John Travolta bird hit scene in Wild Hogs.

Having said that, the road is awesome. It’s secluded with very little traffic and winds through the bottoms of sheer rock canyons and some crazy hairpins and switchbacks in the mountains further in. One drawback was the best riding through mountains in the Lincoln National Forrest section the pavement was a patchwork of well patches with lots of bumps and potholes. Not exactly the best surface for canyon carving. Theres also numerous skid marks followed by splintered trees where previous drivers had taken turns a wee bit fast and couldn’t handle it. But for going slow and checking out the amazing vistas and scenery, Highway 137 is fantastic!

The pavement ends right at the NM/TX border. You know how most Texas border crossings have a gigantic welcome to Texas billboard? Yeah, this one just has a small Texas shape welded to the fence and a small border boundary sign tied to a gate. Thats when you know you are way out there, when the border to is just a few strands of barbed wire.

We chatted with the rangers for a bit, thankful that there were still 3 camp spaces left. I had been getting more and more concerned with the number of cars and trucks hauling ATVs we had seen on the way in.

Thats when the other ranger hobbled out of his truck looking like he’d just been through a meat grinder. Scrapes and blood everywhere! We helped him to a chair in the shade and he recounted his adventure of the day.

He was leading some other tourists on horses down the trails, back up through some switchbacks when his little mule lost its footing and went down to its knees. The mule came back up bucking and took off. While he was deciding whether to bail or not the mule went one way and he went the other right into a tree. He says he hit hard enough that his hat, glasses and radio kept going and flew off. OUCH!

We set up camp and went off down the trails on our own. This area is really beautiful. I took lots of pictures but they hardly compare to being there. I’ll do another post of just photography from there in a day or two.

We startled some deer and they didnt run very far. There was the doe and 2 very young little ones still with spots and a mid sized one, maybe a yearling? I like this picture, her eyes seem to be frowning and saying What are you doing here? I can just picture her tapping her hoof on the other side of the bushes.

It gets cold out here in a hurry when the sun starts going down and we had to get back. I’m so proud of my first successful night shots with the camera after finding a Cannon s5IS forum on how to use the manual and custom settings and Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School blog. Both have helped me improve enormously, look for more in upcoming posts.

Nice stars out here. This is one of our neighbors tents beneath the stars. This is a 15 second exposure to get enough light to show up, now I need to hack my camera to do longer ones and learn how to get some star streaks going.

In the morning our newfound friends we camped next to made us breakfast! Eggs and some maple flavored sausages and hotdog bun “ghetto toast” they called it. Much better than the Vienna sausages and deviled ham on hamburger buns that I had an hour earlier.

Heres the grillmaster himself. Supposedly he loves cooking out and has the big grill at home that hes always using.

And the rest of the family. They were from Carlsbad just down the road and getting away for the weekend. Peace and quiet and no cell phone reception. With a tent that looks like a motel room, the fancy grill and several coolers of stuff, plenty of amenities though. They were going to email me when we got back and I’ve not heard from them yet. I hope my spam filter didn’t trash the email or something.

They told us not to miss the Sitting Bull Falls on our way out. Which is good cause it wasn’t on any of my maps so from the tiny sign we passed I figured it was one of those hike for 5 miles to see a dried up creek bed that sometimes has a waterfall twice a year. I hadn’t intended on using 18 miles of my barely going to make it back range to find out. Thanks for the tip!

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