Upper Sunset Trail – Franklin Mountains State Park

Yesterday was the last day of class for the summer, so to celebrate I decided to go hiking.  Out of all my hiking experiences in the Southwest over the past year, this was by far the worst possible day, but I’m going to write about it anyway.

Franklin Mountains State Park is located in El Paso and is the largest urban park in the country.  The day I came, I didn’t see an entire soul the whole time other than the park ranger.  It was a very serene atmosphere – there was complete quiet, so much so that you could almost hear your heart beating.

The trail I chose was Upper Sunset Trail; it was one of the shorter ones (1.3 miles) and offered some great views of the valley below.  The hike itself was semi-nightmarish.  First of all, it was over 100 degrees outside and there was absolutely zero shade, all of which I’ve hiked in before.  The problem came with the trail itself.  Normally on a gravel, rocky trail, the ground gets packed down from all the people walking on it; this particular trail, however, was very loose and it took me much much longer than normal to cover that distance so I wouldn’t fall and break something.  The extra time it took to hike really took a toll on me, especially in the heat, despite the fact that I drank several bottles of water.  Towards the end of the the trail I did slip and tweaked my ankle, but thankfully it wasn’t sprained.  When I got to the end of the trail, there was a covered picnic table I literally collapsed upon and lay there for awhile bringing my body heat down, drinking even more water and eating an apple.  It’s a good thing no one walked or drove by because I’m sure I looked like a wreck.

There was one good point during the hike: when I topped the last hill, there was a gorgeous view of El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.  In spite of my exhaustion, I took a minute or so just to appreciate the lovely sight.

Coming up: part two of my horrific afternoon.  To be continued…

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