Monday, December 31, 2012

THE Trip, THE Encore' :: Shapes, Marvelous Shapes, Big Bend National Park.

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

December 1, 2012

After our hike at Santa Elena Canyon we continued our drive, first easterly, then, northerly along Ross Maxwell  Scenic Drive.  Best description, besides the ongoing huge and vast:

Shapes, its all about the shapes.

Below is one I can identify, Cerro Castellan, that fabulous structure to the left of the photo:

Ya, I had to try a panoramic of this one too, more vastness.

Almost like waves on the ocean, waves of sand and stone, pushed there by forces of nature and geology.  Look close you can see the waves cresting.

OK, this one is for my RVing friends, this is a campground.  Yep, flooding thanks to irrigation.  I have no idea why the are irrigating a campground, but there ya go.  This is the Cottonwood campground.  Nice if you have a very small camping unit and do not require power.  Plenty of water around tho - - 

In one area there was a lot of white, pure white, stone, almost looking like snow:

Lots of white stuff:

No idea what this is called, or if it even had a name.  Framed by brown ocotillo.

The two peaks on the far right are called Mule Ears Peaks, they top off at 3881 feet!

It is all about the shapes - - oh, and the textures - -

We all agreed this looked like a circus tent, real name, sorry, have no idea.

It was a long and wonderful day.  The next day will be our last in Big Bend, and unbeknownst to us, we saved the hike we all enjoyed the most till last.  Who knew??


THE Trip, THE Encore' :: Hike at Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

December 1, 2012

On the day that Jolly took us down the unpaved Old Maverick Road, we had planned to stop at the Santa Elena Canyon, which came highly recommended.  We had our lunch at the picnic area at the beginning of the trail, and then, we were off, with hiking sticks, bottled water and of course, cameras ready to snap!

Maybe the best is first this time, the view of the canyon as you approach.  That is the Rio Grande River, Mexico to the left, US to the right. There are of course, signs that you should not cross the river.  We did not, but, I'll bet there are some that cannot resist the temptation, eh??

Turn just a little and you see the "hiking trail", yep, up there!

Yellow, again, smiling at us I believe.  (Thanks to friend Linda, the ID:  Wild Tobacco.  Draws hummingbirds, oh,yes, I am sure it does draw hummers!)

Starting up the trail:

Flora grows anywhere it can get a foot, err, root hold.  Prickly pear and cacti, not sure, maybe those hedge hog cacti.

Those walls are stunning, overwhelming, and, mmm, TALL!

Yes, I will share growing room with you:

Turn and look out of the canyon, back towards Big Bend and Texas and the US:

Can you guess what kind of plant this might be??

It is kin to the pineapple.  It is called Hechtia, and it only grows in the Big Bend country.  How cool is that??

Man and the trail where it got a bit more "natural".  The first part of the trail was full of switchbacks and stairs.

A little panoramic, looking out of the canyon, big country, big photo!

Upon leaving the canyon friend D spotted butterflies, lots of them.  The photo is over exposed shooting into the sun, but, you can see the butterflies!  LOL

Our day had more stops and more to do, next time - -

Sunday, December 30, 2012

THE Trip, THE Encore' :: BIg Bend National Park, Jolly Goes 4-Wheeling, We Go Along For The Ride

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

December 1, 2012

Friends that had visited Big Bend National Park before us gave us advice on what to see, the "really gotta see this stuff" list.  One stop we were informed was a MUST was to visit and preferably hike Santa Elena Canyon.    J, D, Man and I looked over the maps and decided that since the roads were dry we would tackle a unpaved road called the Old Maverick Road and drive it from the west Entrance at Maverick Junction, south to the canyon, about 13 miles of gravel roads.  The tour would continue in a counter-clock wise fashion through Castolon, and north along the Ross Maxell Scenic Drive to the Castolon/Santa Elena Junction and then west once more back to Study Butte.  (You  can find the map at the National Park Service web site, down the left side, look for View Park Map.)  This was going to be a long day, so we packed our lunches, bottled water, hats, cameras, extra batteries for the cameras, hiking shoes/boots, hiking sticks, maps, and we were off:

I did mention, didn't I, how vast and barren and harsh this park is, right??

And, I did mention, didn't I, that there has been four years of drought?  The ocotillo in much of the park were leafless, just dull brown sticks reaching to the sky.  Interestingly, along the Old Maverick Road the ocotillo were green and even blooming!  We were delighted and jumped out of Jolly to take many photos, 3 cameras going full tilt!

Lucky enough to find one plant that was rather short, I was able to get some really great close up shots of those beautiful RED RED RED flowers:

The road was graded, dug out in fact, you can see it is fairly large loose gravel.  Jolly got rather dusty!

Another vista view and the geology, ravines, hills, different sizes and colors of stones/gravel/sand, or what looks like sand.  Not a lot of fauna here though.

A bit more fauna here, ever changing desert life.

Our first goal for the day, Santa Elena Canyon, yes, we will hike it, yes, you know who took a bunch of photos, coming soon to Reflections.


THE Trip, THE Encore' :: Big Bend National Park, Moving Day

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

November 30, 2012

We had determined that a move from Stillwell to Study Butte would be advantageous and helpful for seeing the west side of Big Bend National Park, today was moving day.

We started out trying to find a geo-cache, sighhhh, 'twas a fail.  Our GPS units kept telling us the cache was on the other side of that gate and cattle grate.  The Geocaching web site told us it was not necessary to go onto the private property on the other side of that gate.  We even looked in the palm trees.  Sigh, for the fail.

So, after the fail, we left the interesting Stillwell Store and RV Ranch and headed south into the park and then west to Study Butte.  The haze and distances at times create eerie scenes, reminding me many times of old western movies I have seen,  mountain ranges, almost in silhouette, outlined by light, or lack of light.

Add a few unusual shapes, mysterious, loving the layers:

I am not even sure what to say about this structure, other than it sure is unusual.

An interesting view as we come down in elevation, looking out over the tops, sandy looking, smooth boulders, variance in colors and shades.  Barren, lonely, vast, huge, would not want to be out there wandering around, dangerous, did I say, huge?

Almost looks like a chimney, almost:

We arrived in Study Butte to find a rather vacant but modern campground, very clean.  Study Butte and Terlingua are physically close to each other, but, about as different as can be.  Study Butte is well, alive.  Terlingua is known as a ghost town.  Terlingua is not exactly a ghost town as there has been some rebirth, they are drawing in visitors with the story and mystique of the ghost town.  Terlingua has a great cemetery!  I'll show you soon.

We drove over to Terlingua later in the day as the sun was setting.  Just one of many abandoned homes in Terlingua.

I have no idea.  Looks to be a dragon fly or bee.  Why??  Who knows, but, I do love folk artsy type stuff.

Terlingua in the dusk of the day:

The next day will be back into the park, oh, my, it was quite the day, hiking, flora, space, huge, more, more more.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

THE Trip, THE Encore' :: Big Bend National Park, Chisos Basin, Lunch and Hiking Oh, My

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

November 29, 2012

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!)