Monday, March 18, 2013

Big Bend

Last week was Spring Break, so we took off to Big Bend National Park. The first night we stayed outside the park since camping was all full. Spring break is the busiest part of the season, camping seems first come, first served. But there is always room at the Stillwell camp, just outside the northeast of the park.
The big draw of Big Bend is hiking in the Chisos Mountains, an old volcano with  stacks of interesting geology. You drive into the crater which is the Chisos Valley, there is camping there but it is very popular. The valley is at 5400ft so it is considerably cooler than the rest of the park.

Most of the trails start from the visitors center. We chose to hike up Emory Peak. At 7825ft it's the highest in the park and has awesome views all the way up.

There's also a fair bit of shade from Oak, Pinon Pine and Cedar on the walk - which won't stop you getting sun burned, but does take the edge off the heat.
It was a pretty easy walk up and back, there is a loop that adds about 3 miles around the far side, but we were a little short on time, wanting to catch the sunset back at camp.
We stayed down at the Rio Village camp, which was nice and toasty at 1850ft. Mexico lies across the ankle deep Rio Grande.

Sunset over Boquillas del Carmen, and the hot springs just this side of the river.

The hot springs were such a delight after the stroll up the mountain. We went back in the morning to see what they looked like.
We also took a wander around around Boquillas Canyon.
It's easy to see how this place can flash flood. Huge dessert expanses draining through these narrow carved canyons going from 4000ft to 2000ft in just a few miles.
Prickly cactus near sunset.
Another day another hike, just a short one this time... Right ? Again starting from Chisos Valley.
Well maybe not as short as we thought... Somehow one way distance got confused with round trip.
No matter it was still only 5 miles and the lost mine trail was spectacular.
I think the mine was for mercury, though there's plenty of iron too.
On our way out of the park we went by the Santa Elena overlook. This is where the Rio Grande emerges from the canyon.

Rafting is offered here when there is sufficient water. Its a 6 mile canyon, I've added that to my want to do list. We camped in Terlingua Ghost town, seeing some Petroglyphs in the morning. Leaving town looking right perhaps Terlingua Ranch offers some flying opportunities? The other cliffs I saw on the way to Alpine belong to Nine-point mesa Anheuser-Busch.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

February in Texas

It has been a relatively quiet February for us in Texas, mostly on account of a few pinched nerves in my back that seem to be hindering plans. I don't to this day know quite how I got them. Still We managed a nice tour along the Mission Reach trail south of San Antonio. Looking at the map, I'm not sure having north oriented other than up is a Texas thing or something I've only recently noticed, but I don't get it. It is as disorientating as having the sun in the north at midday.

Also went for a nice hike in Guadalupe River state park. It is a pleasant park but the entry fee is outstanding, $14 for two ! No wonder it was deserted. There are five loop trails in the park, it seems two of them are called loop 2, Sometimes you just gotta laugh.

We got a little dressed up for an Oscars party, that was fun, much more fun than watching it the show on TV ;) Big thanks to Kit's aunt Ruth, hostess with the most-ist (sp?)

We've also been exploring the trails in the San Marcos greenbelt.We stumbled upon this sundial. in the Spring Lake Preserve I've always been fascinated by orbital geometry, but not seen an Analemmatic_sundial before. I'm not sure this one takes into account daylight savings, but by standing in a calibrated position, the time can be read without any calculation or adjustment. It was accurate this day at 5:30pm anyway...

And we took a brief tour of Ex-President Lyndon B. Johnson's Ranch. Defininately a touristy spot, but free entry, and quite interesting. Apparently he did most of his work from this Texas White House. He also had a  beautiful runway and airforce one plane, a Lookheed Jetsatr VC140