Some preliminary photos from the last ten days in west Texas.
Pinnacles Trail, the premiere backpacking excursion in Big Bend National Park. We hiked the Outer Mountain Loop, a 32 mile loop that circumnavigates the Chisos Mountains.
Stunning "fall" colors in December in the Chisos Mountains.
More Chisos leaves and rock.
Gretchen after summiting Emery Peak (7825 feet). The highest point in Big Bend Nat'l Park.
Looking south west from Emery Peak.
The Outer Mountain Loop leaves the upper elevations of the Chisos Mountains
and meanders across its foothills through scrubby desert
and up dry creek beds called washes or arroyos.
Nearing the end of the Outer Mountain Loop, Gretchen ascends one of
many switchbacks on the upper slopes of the Chisos on the Blue Creek Canyon Trail
before descending into "the basin" where our car is parked.
A 32-mile loop that took three days.
Gretchen looks at the Rio Grande and sees Mexico just beyond.
This sandy shore was part of the Marufa Vega Trail.
Marufa Vega Trail
Marufa Vega Trail
Looking out on the lower desert from a sandstone "hoodoo" in the Grapevine Hills
in the northern portions of Big Bend Nat'l Park.
The only skies that can compare to Big Bend were those I saw during my 15 months in Iraq. About half our nights have been completely cloudless and looked a little like this,
the milky way running diagonal across the frame.
Mesa de Anguilo Trail
Sunset from our campsite on "the mesa."
Gretchen took this photo of ocotillo and sunrise up on "the mesa."
Gretchen took this photo of a very fuzzy barrel cactus (I guess she took the photos of me too, but I didn't give her photo credits on those, figured it was self explanatory.)
The rock wall on the left is Mexico. I'm taking this photo from the shore of the Rio Grande in the USA.
The gap in the two rock walls is the exit of the Santa Elana Canyon.
Sunrise from our final backcountry car camping site, Ocotillo Grove. We spent three nights in these drive up sites, what they call backcountry car camping. Our other nights were backpacking.
The Chinati Hot Springs. This was not in the Terlingua, Big Bend area. This was thirty some miles up the highway from Presidio, Texas, and then seven miles up a gravel road into the Chinati Mountains. The caretaker told us the water was coming out of the spring at 109F
and the water in the soaking pool was 101F. I would argue it was less than 101F.
We weren't left with that internally warm, radiating heat feeling.
Hot springs in the national park near Rio Grande Village.
The springs filled what looked like an old stone foundation of a house, right on the banks of the river.
These springs were reported to be about 105F.
We've been here twice already and plan to visit a few more times.
While soaking several wild horses appeared out of the brush and drank from the river on the far shore. Feral livestock are common and frequently swim the river and
can be found grazing the open range around the national park.