Saturday, February 24, 2018

ONE LAST HIKE…CHIMNEYS TRAIL

Thursday, February 15 – We hiked our last trail here in Big Bend National Park this morning. The weather report called for high temperatures this afternoon, so we hit the trail a little earlier this morning planning to be out of the hot afternoon sun. It did reach temperatures in the low 90's by late afternoon, but we were home relaxing. It didn't feel near that hot. It's a “dry” heat, you know!

Sunrise greeted us before our hike.
sunrise

We were hiking the Chimneys Trail this morning. The "chimneys" have always been an important landmark in Big Bend. It is rated moderate, but it was fairly easy in our opinion. It is a flat scenic desert trail to rock formations of an eroded dike.

The trail.
Chimneys Trail

Through a wash.
Chimneys Trail

More beautiful scenery on today’s hike.
Chimneys Trail

Chimneys Trail

Chimneys Trail

We love seeing the “purple” or “mauve” prickle pear cacti.
Chimneys Trail

We made it.
Chimneys Trail

As we hiked around the chimneys, we discovered a delicate arch. What a nice surprise.

Chimneys Trail

Chimneys Trail

Chimneys Trail

There are numerous Native American pictographs in one of the sheltered areas and awesome rock formations.

Chimneys Trail

Chimneys Trail

There is no shade so take plenty of water if hot weather is predicted. We traveled 5.21 miles with 14,868 steps with only 373 change in elevation. If you want to crawl around the mountain, you will have to do some rock scrambling at the end of the trail.

We enjoyed this hike, especially climbing around the mountain at the end of the trail to check out the pictographs and to take numerous pictures. We sat on some boulders and enjoyed a water break and a snack before returning to the trail head. As customary, we saw no one at the time spent on the mountain but did cross paths with three or four couples on our return hike.

Chimneys Trail

We have one more day here in Terlingua, Texas, and Big Bend National Park. Could a ghost town be in our future? You'll have to come back and see.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

MULE EARS SPRING…BIG BEND

Wednesday, February 14 – We continue to have wonderful weather here in Terlingua, Texas, and Big Bend National Park. We also can't get over the beauty of Big Bend NP, and the number of different environments in the various parts of the park. We experienced this changing environment and geography up close today on the Mule Ears Spring Trail.

Mule Ears Spring Trail

The Mule Ears Spring Trail is a desert hike to a small spring with spectacular geology and magnificent mountain and desert views. It is rated moderate in difficulty in the trail guide. There is very little overall elevation gain, 254 feet, but we were continually traveling up and down short grades the entire length of the hike. We traveled 4.4 miles with 12,811 steps according to our “Map Your Hike” app.

See the mule ears.
Mule Ears Spring Trail

Like most of the hikes in Big Bend the trail surface is quite rocky. This hike was unusual in that the trail surface changed numerous times during the hike. It started out with a rocky surface of rocks ranging from small to about 6” in size. It then switched to small sandy gravel, and later we had to maneuver over rocks the size of basketballs and then through an area of volcanic slate type rocks. And this surface changed back and forth throughout the hike. There were the ever-present trail stairs and numerous switchbacks.

Mule Ears Spring Trail

Mule Ears Spring Trail

Mule Ears Spring Trail

Mule Ears Spring Trail

What really surprised us was the change in geology. As we moved back in the mountains and closer to the spring, the plants appeared to increase in size and variety, numerous types of cactus, shrubbery, grasses, and small trees. And everything looked so fresh, green, and healthy. We were told that the spring continues its flow underground, and near the surface over a large area in this part of the park. It was so beautiful.

Mule Ears Spring Trail

Ocotillo

ferns and cattails

Ocotillos are beginning to bloom.
Mule Ears Spring Trail

Mule Ears Spring Trail

Mule Ears Spring Trail

The spring appears just past a stone structure used in the past as a stone corral. It is among some very large boulders and was trickling out of cracks in the stone wall of a mountain. It is surrounded by ferns, cactus and many beautiful plants, as discussed above. This is truly an oasis in this dry desert and mountain environment. We were very quiet and the sound of the water flowing over the rocks was mesmerizing.

Mule Ears Spring Trail

Difficult to see, but this is where the water trickles down.
Mule Ears Spring Trail

We paused here for a light brunch and enjoyed some cool water from our water bottles. It was getting pretty hot under the blazing sun, even though the temperature was only in the high 60's. Tomorrow we'll each carry a second bottle of water.

Mule ears.
DSC08032-1

Snack time.
Mule Ears Spring Trail

We then headed back toward the trail head. We were reminded why we like to hit the trail early as we passed numerous hikers just heading out. We joke that it must be getting closer to noon because the youngins are appearing on the trail. We really enjoyed this hike. Because of the changing geography and beautiful surroundings, we feel this hike was one of our most enjoyable hikes in the park.

Mule Ears Spring Trail

We have one more big hike planned for tomorrow so come on back and enjoy the day with us!

We are now back in Houston at the Elks Lodge. Because we didn’t have WIFI for ten days, we are way behind in our posts. We are going to continue to post our adventures as we experienced them. We will eventually get caught up.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

SANTA ELENA CANYON AND MORE

Tuesday, February 13 – We began our day here in Terlingua, TX, by heading back in the west side of Big Bend National Park. We had several stops planned along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. This is a 30 mile stretch of paved road taking us to Castolon/Santa Elena. It is known for some of the grandest views in the park. It didn’t disappoint.

 Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

 Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

 Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive

We decided to drive the complete scenic drive making Santa Elena Canyon our first stop. This hike is an easy trail of 1.7 miles hugging the mountain cliff along the Rio Grande River. It is amazing how the river carved this gorge through the mountain. These cliffs must be 300 feet or more high! After crossing Terlingua creek by way of a small board that probably wasn't even needed, we climbed a set of switchbacks and stairs to an overlook area about 100 feet above the river.

Marsha gingerly crosses the roaring Terlingua Creek.
Santa Elena Canyon

Time to climb.
Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

We then followed the trail back down to the river's edge until we reached the end of the trail about a quarter of a mile back in the canyon. A easy hike but full of amazing scenic views!

Santa Elena Canyon

End of the trail.
Santa Elena Canyon

A little beauty along the way.
Santa Elena Canyon

Looking back towards the Chisos Mountains.
Santa Elena Canyon

Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff was our next trail. Another easy hike of 1.1 miles.

Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff

Pretty easy trail.
Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff

Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff

Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff

The hardest part of this hike is the dry river bed we needed to maneuver down. It is tiresome to walk on the gravel in a riverbed, similar to a soft sandy beach.

Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff

Lots of debris from the rushing waters.
Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff

The trail ends at the bottom of the dramatic Burro Mesa Pour-off. This would be best described as a dry waterfall. It is where the mountain waters spill over the mountain edge to eventually reach the Rio Grande River. We imagine it's been some time since water was pouring over that cliff in this dry desert environment.

Because the mesa is capped by hard lava, the runoff sculpts a sheer
chute instead of a leisurely stream canyon. 100 foot pour-off.

Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff

Our last stop of the day was the Sam Nail Ranch trail. Another short and easy trial less than a mile in length. The trail runs through the brush back past a working windmill to the site of the former ranch. This is a popular birding area due to the combination of water and shade.

Sam Nail Ranch trail

Remains of ranch house.
Sam Nail Ranch trail

Sam Nail Ranch trail

Sam Nail Ranch trail

Sam Nail Ranch trail

View from the Nail’s front window.
Sam Nail Ranch trail

We then headed back to BJ's Campground to relax for the remainder of the day. Another enjoyable day with awesome views and beautiful weather with temperatures in the mid-seventies.

Y’all come back tomorrow to venture with us on the longer Mule Ears Spring hike.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!