Today I set out to climb Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. Over 8 miles (12.8 km) round trip, 3,000ft (914 m) elevation gain, and the possibility of 80+ mph (130 km) winds. I was ready. With the sunrise lighting my trail I set out.
5 minutes into the walk my knee began to hurt for seemingly no reason. With every push, the pain became more and more striking. Barely 15 minutes in I took a break to figure things out. Thus far, my left knee has had 0 trouble and has been taking the slack from the right. Any rest allows the knee to feel pain-free until it needs to push again. Thankfully, there seems to be a plateau of pain. It reaches it swiftly but doesn’t exceed that threshold. However, I do not wish to test that limit. At the moment going downslope offers to pain at all. With every step and every grunt of pain, the question burns in my mind. Do I turn back to summit another day? Or do I risk injury in the pursuit of stubbornness?
Almost 2 hours in and my knee is killing me. Although I’ve been learning how to work with it, pushing off with only my left leg. The portion of the trail I am on now is cold and windy but relatively smooth. I think I can see the peak from here. I am worried, however. There is supposed to be a campsite about 2/3 of the way to the peak, and I haven’t seen any mention of it.
3 hours in and I have finally hit the campsite. There’s still a good while to go.
I was never looking at the peak. It was hiding. Damn.
I made it. 8,749 feet (2,667 meters) up. I can look out in any direction and see for hundreds of miles. I can see New Mexico, Big Bend National Park, and thousands of other places I hope to visit someday. Right at the top, I ran out of water. I planned to make coffee but forgot a filter. I forgot a spoon for the beans I brought. My knee hurts with any bend and I am sweating like crazy. But I am happy. There is a beautiful view. I thought about quitting hours ago, but I pushed through. Here, I look over Texas and know that I am happy here.
FUTURE ME: I don’t know what was wrong with my knee. It still hurt when I got home and would flare up from even the most gentle of inclines. Now it feels better. Perhaps walking it off for 8 miles up a mountain helped?