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Step by step, five hikers made their way up Bear Canyon at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Fifteen-year-old Ozzie appeared farther ahead after every switchback. Fourteen-year-olds Ben and Will stopped more often, to marvel at the widening view of the desert expanse below and to rest and wonder what they had gotten themselves into. Grownups Abby and Mina, bringing up the rear, wove in and out of bright hot sun and cool glades, chatting and admiring the kids’ progress. Ozzie never missed a beat. Near the top Ben and Will were really questioning the wisdom of their route choice - 2,000 feet up in 1.8 miles on a warm June day - but when we topped out on the high south rim they were ecstatic. Moving on through the open forest of The Bowl, the level walking was easier, and packs were already lightened from lunch and from drinking some of the 16-20 pounds (7-9 kg) of water each had, to start, for our 2.5-day waterless loop.


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