We awoke after a windy night to partly cloudy skies, and a hike in front of us. We were excited to stretch our legs and climb to the highest point in the park, Emory Peak at 7,832 feet. The six miles to the summit went surprisingly quick, as we switchbacked on trails from The Basin where we were camped to the top.
To get to the true top required a bit of a rock scramble, and I eagerly took my pack off to attempt it. Garrett questioned if I was going to be able to climb back down, which gave me pause- we didn’t need a cat in a tree situation. Fortunately he found an easier route up that thus would be easier down, and we met at the top. The views were breathtaking, but my legs were getting wobbly realizing how close we were to the edge so we took in the sights and scrambled safety down.
From there we made it to the Northwest Rim Trail, and followed it for a few miles gawking at Rio Grande and dessert before us. Along the trail we ran into a hiker who told us she had just seen a mountain lion with a fresh kill. She had been able to observe the lion from a safe distance until two other hikers startled the lion as they were talking hiking on the trail causing the lion to run off. We were excited by the prospect of seeing a mountain lion (from afar!), a creature neither of us has ever seen in the wild. We proceeded cautiously, but saw neither the lion or its kill. I thought I saw some drag marks off the trail, and later that day in the parking lot we ran into the hiker again who showed us the video she had taken. The lion was indeed in the middle of the trail with its kill (a deer); it must have dragged it off before we arrived to a less trafficked place. Below are some views from the rim:
The next morning we packed-up camp and headed towards Santa Elena Canyon in the southwestern corner of the park. We took a short hike alongside the Rio Grande and into the canyon where Mexico was just a stone throw away. We then headed out of the park, and had enchiladas for lunch at a small Mexican restaurant in Terlingua. Then we headed north for the four hour drive to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. More on that in the next post!