DAYS 99 & 100 – 12/22-23/2012 Hiking Big Bend National Park

THE STARS AT NIGHT – ARE BIG AND BRIGHT -(clap, clap, clap, clap) – DEEP IN THE HAAAARRT OF TEXAS!

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I couldn’t resist adding that! Because, the stars really are big and they really are bright here in Southwest Texas. Of course, anywhere in the world the stars are bigger and brighter out in the country with little or no lights. But Texas is one of those Western states where the sky is really big; the better to enjoy the nighttime display.

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We camped at 5,400 feet above sea level in the Chisos Basin at Big Bend NP, the southernmost extension of the Rocky Mountains. All around us was the Chihuahuan Desert, arid and hostile to life.

The Chisos Range provides an oasis of sorts, protecting small scrubby trees and hardy plants and catching water from the infrequent rains.

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At the Pour-Off. Careful, it’s slippery and a long way down!

Arriving from Marathon in the afternoon, we set up camp and took a short hike on the Window Trail. The window refers to the Basin “pour-off” where rainwater drains out of the valley to the desert below.

Western bluebird, anticipating the falling of crumbs.

Western bluebird, anticipating the falling of crumbs.

The campground was nearly full. Camping for Christmas seems so odd to me but, I come from an area where it’s cold and damp in the winter, sometimes snowy.

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Here in south Texas, the days are in the 70’s to 80’s and the nights get only cool. So, camping at Christmas is a treat that probably takes them a little out of the holiday frenzy.

Next day, we took on the Emory Peak hike; 11 miles and 2,500 ft elevation. It took us six hours to complete the circuit.

Iris tags along

Iris tags along

The day was gorgeous and the people we met on the trail were delightful. Of course, everyone was on vacation, doing something fun and challenging so of course we were all happy!

At the top of Emory Peak, highest peak in Big Bend.

At the top of Emory Peak, highest peak in Big Bend.

Vista from the Emory Peak hike. The Tramper is down in that valley. If you squint really hard (or click on the pic) you may see a white dot on the valley floor, which would be one of the campers in the campground.

Vista from the Emory Peak hike. The Tramper is down in that valley. If you squint really hard (or click on the pic) you may see a white dot on the valley floor, which would be one of the campers in the campground.

There’s no mountain biking in the national park, so we set out for Big Bend Ranch State Park.

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You drive through the desert to get there, through tiny, sun-baked towns. We met a transplanted Marylander in a small grocery store in Terlingua. She and her Texan co-worker agreed that not everyone who decides to leave their home and move to South Texas stays.

Terlingua cemetery

Terlingua cemetery

It’s quite a different world. No shopping to speak of, no movie theater, no gym, no hospital, no big sports venues, no new car dealer, etc, etc. Baking hot summers. Isolation aplenty.

– Jane

4 responses to “DAYS 99 & 100 – 12/22-23/2012 Hiking Big Bend National Park

  1. Merry Christmas to both of you and wishing you more great adventures in the New Year. We have really enjoyed following your travels.

  2. Amazing photos. I will go there when I am in Texas.

  3. Big Bend Nat Park sounds like a beautiful place… “isolation aplenty.” The warmth and dryness looks pretty nice too. There’s about 2 inches of snow on the ground with temps about 30ish right now here in the NE.

    • We kinda miss that moisture. The occasional bloody nose from dryness is a minor thingy, but the real difference is the GREEN of the Northeast..in Maine if you drove 50 miles you’ll see 50 rivers or lakes..here they all are dry “draws”

      -David

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