Today's visit to Big Bend National Park will take us to a totally different area, different in geology and altitude. Yesterday's trip, altitude wise, was up a bit, down a bit. At Panther Visitors Center we were at about 3750 feet, near Rio Grande Village and our hike we were at about 1850 feet. Today we are going to explore the Chisos Basin area at about 5400 feet.
Here is a snap shot from their map, showing the Chisos Basin area we will visit. Thanks to the National Park Service for their great web sites and maps!
On our drive in. The scenery includes this interesting "hill", which from afar looks quite sandy.
This sign is just one of many with the bear and cat warning, not the last we will see, just the largest!
I did mention that we would be climbing to almost 5400 feet in altitude, right?? Well, to get there you must go up, up, up, sometimes with a steep curve or two. Believe me, 10 was NOT too fast.
Once at the Chisos Mountain Lodge we went into the restaurant and had lunch, it was the plan of the day, no picnic lunches today, we wanted to sit and look at the view. We are looking toward the "Window". Stay tuned for another view of the Window.
This is Casa Grande, at 7325 feet, it looms almost 2000 feet over the lodge area.
We walked a short distance to a viewing point for the Window, I gave the panoramic a try.
Along the way, I found these two very small cacti growing right on top of this rock. See them on the right side, they blend in quite well. Friend Linda, again to the rescue, tells me this little babies are Hedge Hog Cacti and that they don't get much larger.
We decided to give the Chisos Basin Trail a try, the map shows it, a circle. We had been told, the left side going in was the steepest and the hardest to traverse. Our plan was to tackle the left side on the way in as J has trouble walking down steep inclines. Yea, that was the plan.
So, we set off down (or rather UP) the trail, a typical trail, gravel, sand, steps up and down, plants galore, rocks galore, camera heaven, shutters snapping:
We walked and walked, errrr, hiked and hiked. Then we came to this sign and, well, we were a tad bit confused, and we did what we have done a number of times this trip, we turned the wrong way. We went up the right side of the trail. And, so, we tromped along, thinking we were on the rough/hard side of the trail. Nope, we were not. SIGH
Along the way we got this special view of the Window.
After some more hiking we came to the place where the trail says, Laguna Meadows Trail, and yepper, we started up that a way. At some point we came to a hairpin turn in the trail and we all decided that this just did not feel right and so, we did the smart thing, a U TURN! We turned around and went back from whence we had come.
When we approached the intersection of the Laguna Meadows Trail and the Chisos Basin Trail we met up with some other hikers. After discussing their path vs our path we realized we had taken the "easy" side of the trail, and they had taken the "harder" side of the trail.
All I have to say, if what we hiked was the easier side of the trail, I am sure glad we made the wrong turn and did not attempt the hard(er) side of the trail. Did you hear those loud GROANS???????? Yea, I know you did.
We hiked back to the beginning of the trail the very same way, back down the "easy" side of the trail. We were all sufficiently tired, ok, WHOOPED, from our hike up the wrong, err, easy side of the trail and back, believe me, we had no trouble sleeping this night!
So, today's hike will be forever remembered for the great views of Casa Grande, the Window, the best wrong turn we have ever made and the smartest U turn we have ever made.
The next day we will move the rigs from the northern entrance to the park to the west side of the park. Ya, the park is so large that it is advantageous to move two camping rigs about 60 miles. We will spend 2 more full days in Big Bend, hiking both days. Have to say, for us, the hikes just got better and better! (And, we did not make any more wrong turns! WOOT!)