>South Rim in a Day

April 15, 2010 at 2:59 am (Uncategorized)


Casa Grande and the Basin from Laguna Meadows Trail

My last hike of the season here at Big Bend National Park was the 13-mile South Rim in the Chisos Mountains. I had attempted this in February with my son as a 3-day backpack trip but we were rained out (See “Worst Night of My Life” blog entry.) So on my Special Project Day I shouldered my pack and headed up the Pinnacles Trail. I made it to Toll Mountain campsite in 2 hours and 45 minutes. Not bad for an uphill climb of over 3 miles. This is where Ryan and I spent that fateful night in the wind and rain two months earlier.

The Chisos Mountain Lodge from Pinnacles Trail

Century Plants clinging to rocks

View from Toll Mountain campsite

I had earlier stopped at Juniper Flat to check on a couple of claret cup cactus I had seen, and was surprised to see one in full bloom!

Claret Cup cactus

Claret Cup single flower

I continued up Boot Canyon Trail, past Boot Rock…

Boot Rock

….past lichen growing in the shape of a heart

…past the oaks with their new red leaves…

…and into Boot Canyon with its huge evergreens. There I saw a rare Colima warbler and two painted redstarts. (See previous post.) This is truly an oasis in the desert. Some of the trees are remnants of a more temperate climate.

Oak leaf snagged on juniper bark

More hiking, and I finally made it to the stunning viewpoints of the South Rim.

Southwest Rim viewpoint

The views on the return trip via Laguna Meadows were amazing.

This is the site of the Blue Creek Fire in 1989

I will swear that the sign at Laguna Meadows that says it is 3.3 miles back to the Basin is wrong, wrong, wrong. It took me 4 hours to travel that distance downhill, and I’m guessing it was more like six miles. All told with the detours to photograph the backcountry campsites, I walked 15 plus miles.

Basin from Laguna Meadows Trail

Heart rock on Laguna Meadows Trail

It was a warm day with light, cool breezes and though I drank about 40 ounces of water and didn’t feel thirsty, I wound up dehydrated. (That’s why they recommend a gallon per day.) I also had to hike the last half hour with my headlamp, as it took me 13 hours for the trip. When I got home I felt awful. Warm flushed skin, chills, aches in the hips, knees, legs, back, shoulders. I drank two tall iced wine coolers and had some supper, even though I wasn’t hungry, then tossed and turned in bed for several hours with aches that Advil wouldn’t soothe. The next day I took my only sick day since I’ve been here and continued to rehydrate and replace potassium and sodium with V8 juice, broth, and a banana. By the end of the day I felt almost normal again. Lesson learned. I ain’t no spring chicken anymore.

I didn’t wear the Stetson on the trip – just the field cap

It was a wonderful way to end my tour of duty here at Big Bend National Park, in the great state of Texas.

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>Spring Birds

April 10, 2010 at 5:03 am (Uncategorized)


Spring in Big Bend National Park – it’s more than just flowers!

Black-tailed Gnatcatcher on Guayacan

We’re getting a new crop of birds migrating back from their winter homes, and some of the old standbys are singing and nesting. We have a lot of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers but I finally got to see a Black-tailed up close.

White-breasted nuthatch pair

White-breasted nuthatch

Painted Redstart in Boot Canyon – there were two of these beauties

They are much prettier than the American Redstart

The very rare Colima warbler in Boot Canyon

I’ve included several views to show the yellow under the tail
and the rusty crown

At most there are 150 of this species in America, all in this area of Big Bend

Tufted titmouse – they have black caps here in Texas

Pyrrhuloxia male staking out his territory

Phainopepla female in Green Gulch

Green Heron at Boquillas Canyon

Bufflehead pair Rio Grande Village

Stay tuned!

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