We started our trek from Pine Springs Campground around 5:30 am with 4-7 liters of water each & ample snacks. The trail up to Guadalupe Peak was easy to follow with headlamps until the sun came up. We reached GP with no incident, and enjoyed a quick snack at the top (mile 4.2).
From here began the off-trail segment. The initial descent was steep and required some faith in places where we could not see a clear path forward. Using previous FKT writeups as a guide, we made our way across the NE ridgeline & down to the creek bed before heading up to Shumard Peak (mile 7.0). We descended Shumard through the trees, which made the route finding a little more difficult at times. As the trees cleared out we stayed just below the ridgeline to avoid the wind which had really picked up. One of us took the steeper but more direct line for the final ascent, while the other 2 worked our way around to the east ridgeline and followed it to the top of Bartlett Peak (mile 8.6). We could see a game trail descending from the Bush Mountain Trail so we steered toward that as we made the descent from Bartlett. The entire off-trail segment was very slow going on account of the thick brush & cacti, and we were all glad to be wearing pants & knee high gaiters. The path was never really dangerous, it was just tediously slow.
Once reaching official trail again (9 miles in 9 hours), things got much easier. We made our way to Bush Mountain (mile 9.8) then began the comparatively easy stroll toward Hunter (mile 13.9). The winds were quite blustery here and it was getting late so we didn’t linger long. Rather than backtrack, we decided to descend via Bear Canyon Trail. The switchbacks through the canyon were a pleasant experience and we made it to Frijole Trail as the sun set. Donning the headlamps once again, we finally reached the Pine Springs Campground (17.78 miles, 14:18 hours).
14h 19m 13s