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  < Back to Table Of Contents  < Back to Topic: Adventure, Discovery, Scenic & Interesting

article number 703
article date 02-08-2018
copyright 2018 by Author else SaltOfAmerica
Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains Winter/Spring Hiking Part 1, Smith Spring Trail
by Stu Moment
   

EDITOR’S NOTE: All photos with the SaltOfAmerica.com logo (those larger images opened by clicking the button below the photo) may be reposted without further permissions. This policy is for promotional reasons.

* * *

The Guadalupe Mountains are for real and provide hiking with views which will please. With Carlsbad New Mexico to the northeast and El Paso Texas to the west, you enjoy getting there too.

Our first trail is a simple one a few miles east of the major Guadalupe Mountains National Park entrance.

This shows a view from the ride from Carlsbad New Mexico. Nice scenery all the way.

   
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Nice road with few distracting signs . . . but these kind of signs are welcome.

   
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Greeting for our section of the Park. The Museum will be closed today.

   

Here is a map showing the Smith Spring Trail . . . today’s objective. Notice the trails an highway to the Visitor Center to the west (left). Our next and very different type of hike will be from that location.

   

Looks like the trail will be for hikers only.

   

On the way to the trail . . . facilities and museum.

   
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We find Smith Spring Trail.

   

Our Trail takes us up into these mountains.

   
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Plenty of greenery . . . the cactus looks healthy.

   
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We look back at an interesting hill located a half mile southeast at Smith Canyon.

   
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As we gain altitude we gain views of pleasing, rugged terrain.

   
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It’s February . . . you’ll find some snow on the path.

   
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We continue into the crevice.

   
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Steep peaks rise about us. A very satisfying climb.

   
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On the way down we again spot the distinctive hill . . . welcome home.

   
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We look across what was once a sea. The view, with hills so far away, puts a smile on any face.

   
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Back to the beginning of the path.

   
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The Ranch has a history . . .

   

. . . this sign (text of the sign follows this picture) tells a story.

   

FRIJOLE HISTORIC SITE

This West Texas ranch home is the most complete remnant of early farming and ranching enterprises in the Guadalupe Mountains. Two pioneer ranchers, the Rader brothers, settled here in the 1870’s with a few cattle. Their home, which consisted of the front rooms, is considered to be the oldest substantial building in the area.

The Smith family moved here in the summer of 1906. Although keeping some livestock, they made a living primarily from truck farming and a small orchard. They used the first hydraulic ram in the area to pump water for the house and farm use.

The nearest market for their produce was Van Horn, Texas, a dusty, jolting 60 mile wagon trip away. The family would leave in the evening, after covering the fruits and vegetables with wet paper and rags to protect them from heat, and arrive in time to meet the next morning’s customers.

During their 34 years here, the Smiths added the kitchen, two bedrooms and upstairs to the original ranch house. They also built the spring house, guest house, and double bath house. The red building to your left was periodically used as a bunk house, storage shed, barn, and school house for the eight local children.

All these structures were built entirely of native materials.

Over the years, this complex served as the community center for dances and other social gatherings and the site of the “Frijole” Post Office from 1912-1940, named by the local folks for their abundant diet of beans!

In the early 1940’s Judge J.C. Hunter bought the Smith’s “Frijole Ranch” and many of the surrounding ranches. He renamed his purchases the Guadalupe Mountains Ranch and covered the mountain with thousands of Angora sheep and goats.

Today, with its critical spring water supply, this homestead is a reminder of that intriguing chapter of history during the days of the pioneer rancher and the settling of the West.

* * *

The road takes us to the next park entrance and an even greater hike. This is tommorow’s hike. For now we’ll find a hotel and get a good night’s sleep.

   
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