That’s how we do it in Arizona, and it takes about eight seconds. In Texas, I’ve learned that it’s a totally different game; you’ve got to be prepared to share your family history with strangers. Coming down the trail, I met a nice man pushing 70 years old coming up the hill. He stopped and smiled at me like he was just sitting in a booth at a cafe waiting for me to sit down and order a cup of coffee.
“So! Where are you from?!” He asked.
I was so blindsided by this chipper guy the only thing I could do was be honest. I liked the break and the conversation, but I spent at least three or four minutes with every other hiker coming up the hill. One hiker trod his way up a switchback below me, looked up, and goes, “Hi! Are you Mark Stephens?” Again, so shocked I had to be honest.
“Uh, yes.” I reached out my hand. “What’s your name?”
“Oh, I’m Mike,” as if I was supposed to know it. He sat down on a rock like it could have been my front porch, and loosened his jacket. I felt as though if my manners were better placed, I would have hollered for my wife to fix us some lemonade or sweet tea. Darlin! We got comp’nay! But I still had no idea who Mike was, nor how he knew me by name. We talked about other mountains and peaks we’ve topped out on, the weather, where we’re from, how many brothers we have . . .
It’s no wonder that the National Park’s literature claims this hike will take 8 hours. Written by a big-hearted, chatty Texan no doubt. I could get used to this.
Perhaps an ancient surfer’s delight, the Guadalupe Mountains are an exposed limestone reef rising from the desert floor and displaying millions