Guadalupe Peak


March 2013

You won’t ordinarily find the Guadalupe Mountains on lists of “windiest places.”  And yet, the Guadalupe Mountains are known by some to be relentlessly windy.  How windy is it?

I think back to my telephone conversation with Ranger Hal.  I called him weeks before our trip to get some preliminary information.  It just makes good sense to have a reasonable expectation of the weather, trail conditions and any special considerations like trail washouts, annoying flying critters, whatever.  Upon query, Ranger Hal gave me the poop.  “The average high is 65°, average low is 41°, but here’s the thing.  It gets windy.”

“If it’s windy one day,” I asked, “will it be windy the next day?  Or does the weather change pretty quickly?”

“Well, here’s the thing,” Hal explained.  “We’re dealing with fronts here.  So if it’s windy now, it can be windy for days.  Weeks even.  Not too much rain but we do get the occasional thunderstorm.  They are brief but violent.  The mountains generate more severe weather than the plains.”

Okay, nothing particularly scary sounding, nothing we haven’t seen before.  Hal suggested that we “…check with NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) a few days before and if the weather is up, stick to the lowlands.”

Stick to the lowlands?  Um, we’re Highpointers.  You got any low high points out there?

“Here’s the thing.”  Hal had more useful intel for us.  “I’ve been up there [on the mountain] and it was in the 80s.  I’m talking about wind speed now.  “You’ll get knocked around a bit, but here’s the thing.  If you are in any kind of decent shape, you can handle it.”

Here’s the thing.  We’ll handle it.  But just how windy is it?

I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all.

—Robert Lewis Stevenson

I expect to see birds flying sideways.  Even my hair would be in disarray.

This verse came to me…

Had she been wearing a skirt,

Oh, had only she been wearing a skirt…

We will take our windbreakers, but if the wind is up over 40 mph, I surmise that our windbreakers might not be breaking too much wind, so to speak.

“Oops!  There goes my hat!” said Tom off the top of his head.

Here’s the thing.  It’s called wind because someone has to wind it up.

“I see,” said the blind man, peeing into the wind.  “It’s all coming back to me now.”

Some hapless visitor asked a west Texas rancher, “How do you stand the wind blowing every single day?”  The rancher said, “You learn to lean into it.  One day last fall the wind stopped blowing all of a sudden, and all the cattle in the Upper Rio Grande plumb fell over.”

The wind is like the air, only pushier.

No one can tell me,

Nobody knows,

Where the wind comes from,

Where the wind goes.

—A A Milne

Two farmers were boasting about the strongest wind they’d ever experienced.  “Out here in California,” said one, “I’ve seen the fiercest wind in my life.  You know those giant redwood trees?  The wind got so strong it bent them right over.”

“That’s nothing,” said the west Texas cowboy.  “Back on my ranch one time, we had a wind one day that blew so bad that one of my hens had her back turned to the wind and she laid the same egg six times.”

And why is it that when I wind up my watch, it starts,

But when I wind up this observation,

It ends.

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