On our second full day of being together in GUMO we got a move on in the morning in order to conquer the tallest peak in TX. Although its about 3 miles shorter than Emory Peak, Guadalupe Peak feels like it's about 3x as long. WOOF. I think I was in the best hiking shape of my life this summer and it was still ROUGH getting through that first mile and a half of switchbacks in the direct sun with no tree coverage. But WHATEVER because it's beautiful and exciting.
We got to the peak around 9:30AM and the FIRST THING WE SAW were *literally* SEVEN hot sauce TUBS right beside the freaking monument. Also, a tortilla wrapper and brown paper bag. We could only hope that someone had left the remnants of a burrito at their campsite and one of the 3-6 black bears/ mountain lions within the ENTIRE park found the trash and dragged it to the top of Guad Peak?? That sounds reasonable, right?
Both of us were in shambles picking up the trash when along came this nice man who was equally distraught with the amount of litter. He even said he had been collecting trash he found on the way up! Yay to trash collectors! We ended up salty snacking and electrolyting with a view over El Capitan when all of a sudden an hour had passed! As we packed up our things we got distracted looking for ladybugs! There were tons of little clusters of red bugs under the low shrubs so naturally we took multiple selfies with them in order to get a "Ladybug Social" pin at the Visitor's Center.
When descending we actually met up with the trash-collecting man and made him our hiking buddy! I'll never get over how wonderful, easy, and fun it is to meet people on the trail. On the way down we actually ran into a few problematic things. One of which was freaking graffiti! We found this colorful piece about halfway up the mountain! The next thing was a few rogue water bottles that had clearly fallen out of reach of the average (sane) person. I apparently was feeling supported and decided it was smart to shimmy on down the steep slope to grab the water bottle. Thank goodness it all was okay- but that is a fine line that I try to ride well. Is it worth picking up trash if it is placed in a dangerous position? Also, is it okay to go off-trail in order to pick up trash or is that act in itself harming the wilderness. ALL THINGS TO THINK ABOUT.