Today we hiked the Smith Springs loop in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
A gorgeous easy and short hike with the amazing payoff of a freshwater spring tucked away in the folds of the Guadalupe Mountains.
The beginning of the hike is though an unmistakably desert clime: low juniper, madrone, cholla and prickly pear cacti, dry washes and tall yucca. About two-thirds through the loop, however, you find yourself walking into an alternate world: oak and pine and maple, all nearly completely hidden from view in a little spring-supported oasis and in the final few days of their Fall reds and oranges and browns.
I was really struck when we all of the sudden found ourselves in such an alien feeling environment compared to where we set out. It was beautiful and breathtaking, and I just wanted to sit and breathe it all in.
The springwater bubbling out from the rocks, Fall leaves floating atop the downstream pools, the shady canopy and water-shaped rocks. It was otherworldly, like walking into Rivendell – but in the middle of a desert.
I rock-hopped downstream, accidentally getting my toes wet but too excited to explore to mind overmuch. I took pictures from this angle and that, and sat down frequently on large rocks to see it all from as many different vantages as possible.
On the hike out Sharaun and I both agreed that you really don’t get a proper feel for, or appreciation of, a place like this until you physically get out into it, tromp through it, feel it under your feet, hands, on your face and in your lungs. When that happens, when you take the time to let it happen, you truly get the magic of a place.
A great day, great hike, and a nice green check mark next to that goal of slowing down a little.