Salt Flat, Texas – On August 2, 2018, Judge Robert Junell summited Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, for the 200th time at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This rugged, challenging hike is 8,751 feet above sea level and is a sought-after destination by “Highpointers” who seek to scale the highest points in the United States and around the globe. More than a million visitors to the park have hiked this 8.4-mile trail over the years, but none have trekked this arduous journey hundreds of times.
Judge Junell, a senior U.S. District Judge, who still serves in New Mexico and West Texas, began coming to Guadalupe Mountains with his wife in early 2003, when he first summited the peak. Shortly after his first climb, he began volunteering in the park and has been assisting park staff on the trails ever since.
For the last fifteen years “the Judge” as he’s known by staff, has regularly hiked to the top of Guadalupe Peak, opened the battered ammo box at the summit, then signed and dated the weathered, green bound journal. He has signed and dated this log two hundred times now, marking each journey to the top of Texas.
Now at 71 years of age, Robert Junell says he will continue to climb the peak and plans to hike it another one hundred times, just to make it an even three hundred. After turning in his radio to staff on the day of his 200th summit of Guadalupe Peak, Judge Junell commented, “I’m taking a break from the Guadalupe’s and headed to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for a much needed vacation!” He’s summited that mountain three times already and has no plans to slow down anytime soon. The Judge is an inspiration to all that meet him along the trails. He’s always happy to help others with information, a willing smile and a few words of encouragement. As a well-known and respected volunteer in the park, the staff look forward to his next visit to the Guadalupe Mountains.
For more information on the Volunteer in the Parks program visit https://www.volunteer.gov/ or to volunteer at Guadalupe Mountains National Park contact VIP Coordinator Brian Schwieger at [email protected] or call (915) 828-3251 ext. 2311.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national park units and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.