Hiking down from the campground was a little treacherous on the icy snow, but we made it with no incidents. We took a long break at the Pine Springs campground before continuing what we thought was going to be a very tough hike. We had planned on going back up the other side on a different trail than the one we came down, a very steep trail, but we were disappointed to see a sign at the trail head stating that the Bear Canyon Trail was closed due to flooding. We then had to just retrace our steps from the previous day (plus some).
Even with two hours of breaks, we arrived at our campground by 4:00 pm. This night we stayed at Tejas Campground, which was in the snow-covered conifer forest. It was a lovely site, and the blanket of snow on the ground really made it feel like winter in a way that I hadn’t felt in the past month in Texas and Carlsbad. Two tent sites were dry, and several more were available but coated in snow, but once again we had the whole campground to ourselves.
Another cold night left the ground frozen solid in the morning. We had our breakfast and set out on the short hike back to the van.
In three days of hiking north of Pine Springs, we only saw two other people on this side of the park, who only hiked up to Pine Top because Guadalupe Peak campground was full. We had two really beautiful campgrounds to ourselves, on Friday and Sunday of a holiday weekend. Everyone else just wanted to go to the highest peak. Between our experience here and on Mt. Washington, I think I will start seeking out the second highest peaks; the views are just as amazing and the climb offers more solitude than the highest peaks that draw the crowds.
After we finished our Guadalupe Mountains National Park backpacking trip, we stuck around in the Dog Canyon Campground for two additional nights. I fell in love with this park in this time, in particular the Dog Canyon side. We almost had the place entirely to ourselves, though a neighbor did pull in late our first evening. The RV sites are close together, but it seems unlikely that there will be enough RVs there for that to be an issue. Ranger Holly, who issued us our backpacking permit and helped us with other information, was shocked when I informed her that we had neighbors – they get so few visitors that she was sure we’d have the place to ourselves. It is a beautiful and serene campground for a very low price ($8/night). After sunset when I would visit the shining clean restrooms, the campground was so dark and the stars so numerous that I would navigate by starlight. In the daytime I took advantage of the lovely hiking trails, and John and I both exploited the fast and free wifi.