Big Bend National Park - Telingua, Texas

Texas Trails discussion.

Big Bend National Park - Telingua, Texas

Postby KF5ZXT » Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:59 am

http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/primitive-dirt-roads.htm

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CLOSEST TOWN:Study Butte
DISTANCE FROM HOUSTON: 658 Miles
DRIVING TIME: 10 Hours 4 Minutes

Primitive Dirt Roads

Glenn Springs Road
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16 miles (26km)
This road skirts the eastern slopes of the Chisos Mountains and leads to the Glenn Springs Historic Site. As the road descends from Glenn Springs to the River Road, it generally becomes smoother.

Pine Canyon Road 4 miles (6km)
From the Glenn Springs Road this short road leads to the Pine Canyon Trail.

Juniper Canyon Road 5 miles (8km)
From the Glenn Springs Road this short road leads to the Juniper Canyon Trail and Dodson Trail junction. This road is rocky and rough and usually requires 4-wheel drive.

Old Ore Road
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26 miles (43km)
Used in the early 1900s to transport ore from Mexican mines to the railroad station at Marathon, the Old Ore Road generally follows the route used by mule and pack trains a century ago. The road has excellent views of the Chisos Mountains across the Tornillo Creek drainage to the west. Ernst Tinaja, five miles from the southern end of the road, is a popular destination.

River Road
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51 miles (82km)
The River Road traverses the southern portion of the Big Bend. While generally following the course of the Rio Grande, the road usually runs a considerable distance from the river, especially in its middle section. Due to the length and usually rough condition of the road, allow a full day to drive from end to end. Numerous roadside campsites (permit required) are located along the road, allowing for an extended exploration. The west end of the road is lesser used, and generally in a rougher condition; the road crosses numerous washes, and is often impassable after rains.

Black Gap Road
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8.5 miles (14km)
This road connects the Glenn Springs Road with the River Road. This road is not maintained, and 4-wheel drive is required at all times. Black Gap Road photos (700k pdf) provide insight of this challenge.

History & Culture

Big Bend has many windows to the past.
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Simon Schama wrote:Histories never conclude; they just pause their prose. Their stories are, if they are truthful, untidy affairs, resistant to windings-up and sortings-out. They beat raggedly on into the future....


While Big Bend is famous for its natural resources and recreational opportunities, the park is also rich in cultural history. Native peoples lived in and/or passed through this area for thousands of years. Their presence is evidenced by pictographs and archeological sites. In more recent history (the last 500 years) Texas has been claimed by six different nations!

The Big Bend has been a home to people for many centuries, but knowledge of the Rio Grande among non-Indians dates back less than 150 years. Spanish people crossed the Rio Grande in the 16th and 17th centuries searching for gold, silver, and fertile land. Comanche Indians crossed the river in the 19th century, traveling to and from Mexico with their raiding parties.

Mexican settlers began farming on both banks of the river’s floodplain around 1900. Anglo-Americans joined in the farming after 1920, when boundary unrest ended. Cotton and food crops were grown around Castolon and what is now Rio Grande Village even after the park was established.

Today, you can drive your car along portions of the Comanche Trail, the same route that Comanche warriors once traveled on raids into Mexico, or you can visit the La Harmonia Store at Castolon where locals (and visitors) have shopped for eighty years. From archeological sites dating back nearly 10,000 years, to ranches and mining operations from the Twentieth Century, Big Bend can be a great place to "discover" history.

Did You Know?

There are eight National Register of Historic Places sites or districts in Big Bend National Park. They are Burro Mesa, Castolon Historic District, Hot Springs Historic District, the Mariscal Mining District, the Homer Wilson Ranch, Rancho Estelle, Daniel’s Ranch and Luna’s Jacal.

More than 300 graves lie within the boundaries of Big Bend National Park. Most of the dead are unknown. Some died of old age and a few were murdered. Though some early settlers exploited the land, their tremendous fortitude and courage can never be denied.



Address: Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
Phone number(s): (432) 477-2251
Website: http://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/primitive-dirt-roads.htm
PUBLIC LAND
STATE OFF ROAD VEHICLE REGISTRATION MAY BE REQUIRED
Vehicles permitted: ORV

Trail difficulty: EASY MODERATE DIFFICULT

Terrain: All primitve dirt roads may be rocky with areas of soft gravel or sand. Some road sections may require a high clearance 4WD vehicle, in four-wheel-drive, driven by a driver experienced in 4WD drive techniques to drive the road without getting stuck.
Hours of operation: The park is open 24 hrs daily, all year. The entrance stations and other visitor centers have variable seasons and hours.

Visitor Center hours of operation
Admission fees: 1-week pass: $20

Onsite camping: Available
Campsite fees: Click for info

Click here for a map

ADDITIONAL NOTES
While the isolation of Big Bend National Park is a drawing point for many visitors, it also means that your trip must be well prepared and carefully planned.

Big Bend National Park is located in southwest Texas, hundreds of miles from the nearest cities and transportation hubs. There is no public transportation to or in Big Bend National Park. You can drive your own vehicle, or take a plane, train, or bus and then rent a vehicle to get to Big Bend.

Several highways lead to Big Bend National Park: TX 118 from Alpine to Study Butte or FM 170 from Presidio to Study Butte (then 26 miles west to park headquarters) or US 90 or US 385 to Marathon (then 70 miles south to park headquarters).

Distances between towns and services can be considerable. Always be sure you have plenty of gas, oil, food, and water for your trip. The park has four camper stores, but supply and selection can be limited. There are also small stores in the communities outside the park. The last major shopping areas (grocery and hardware stores) are Alpine, Fort Stockton, and Del Rio.


astynax wrote:Great place to spend a week - or two - or more...

Plan on spending at least 4 or 5 days. The area's too remote and there's too much to see on a short weekend trip.

Ahh, you were wondering when I'd get around to it right? Ok I'm going start with generalities and get down to my favorite trails.

The most prominent feature in the park area is actually the Chisos Mountains. If you're a hiker (and I do hike from time to time) the rim is awesome. It's a desert alpine environment and fascinating.

Two other major features are Sierra del Carmen on the southeast edge of the park and Santa Elena Canyon on the southwest side. Both features are on the Rio Grande itself and spectacular during sunrise and sunset.

Where you will be wheeling, is the high desert floor surrounding the Chisos mountains. Big Bend is in the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert. This has some implications that I will go into later when we talk safety. You will see everything from rocks and dust to mud depending on time of year and when the last rainfall was. Many of the "trails" are really dirt roads. The park service grades them at least once a year and any high clearance vehicle can manage them if they are dry. All that changes if there's been any rainfall, however, when 4WD becomes a "must have" item.

An important note: driving off the established trails is strictly verboten and WILL land you in really deep brown stuff when you get caught. The landscape is pretty fragile and takes a VERY, VERY LONG TIME (as in decades if ever) to recover from idiots who think it's fun to cut donuts in middle of the desert.

Now to the trails:

Maverick Road - This road runs along the western edge of the park from north to south. Mainly a dirt road, you see plenty of desert. There is an abandoned town at Terlingua Abajo that is fun to explore. Warning, the creek that runs by it is highly alkaline from the local limestone. Don't drink from it.

River Road (west) - This road follows the Rio Grande river from Castelon to Glen Spring Rd. When the road is dry, you can drive it in 2WD the entire route. In the spring, however, expect frequent mud holes in the lower areas requiring 4WD and a firm but steady right foot. The "road" is narrow in a lot of areas so pay attention. There are several camp sites along this trail but please note that unattended vehicles and camps have been stolen from either by other visitors or from Mexicans crossing the river. Don’t leave your vehicle or camp unattended.

Glen Spring Rd - This road heads generally north/south from River Road to the paved road between Panther Junction and Rio Grande Village. Like River Rd, mostly passable by 2WD high clearance vehicles. There are a couple of areas where 4WD is very handy particularly near the abandoned down of Glen Spring where Black Gap Rd meets. This area is subject to frequent erosion and the rocky soil is unstable even when dry. Don't panic if your jeep starts to slide and what ever you do DON'T slam on the brakes. The road passes through some really cool boulder fields. There is an abandoned mercury mine (Mariscal Mine) that you can see but I wouldn't recommend tramping around up there. The area is contaminated and the shafts aren't blocked off. You'll also see the remains of an abandoned town (Glen Spring) and some of the nearby cattle pens.

Black Gap Rd - I use the term "road" because that's the park's designation. The park does NOT maintain a large portion of that "road" and it's anything but. This, boys and girls, is a real trail and you better bring some stones of your own to drive it. It runs generally north/south from the River Road to Glens Spring. The southern side starts out mild enough with a pretty wide, flat area going to Elephant Tusk Mountain and camp site. Once you pass that camp site, things get interesting (the park has a sign marking the end of maintenance; interestingly it's in the shape of a cross). You are driving on and amidst the remains of decaying hills and mountains for most of the center part of the trail


fulltimer wrote:Take Your Camera!

If anyone doesn't find something that they like in this park they are blind! There are mountains, deserts and lots of wild life. This is a very isolated park so be aware of that. You cannot pick up any TV stations on an antenna and for the most part radio reception is limited to night time AM stations. Unless you want Mexican radio!

The roads that we would be interested in will take you to some of the most beautiful places in the park. Places you cannot see from the highways. Take your time and be sure to stop and soak awhile in the natural hot spring on the bank of the Rio Grande River. As you all know, do not go out by yourself! This is high desert and mountains. You may not see anyone at all while you are out so if you are alone and break down you are in a world of hurt. NO CELL PHONE SERVICE!

Below I copied some road information that pretty much explains everything about the road types.

Current road conditions

Forty-five miles of the unpaved roads are classified as “improved dirt roads.” The improved dirt roads, like the Maverick Road on the west side of the park, are passable by most vehicles during much of the year. But the fact that a road is “passable” does not mean that this is an ideal road for today’s low clearance passenger cars. The terrain in Big Bend is extremely rocky and even a recently graded unpaved road can mean a slow rocky ride that can be hard on vehicles. Almost any amount of rainfall will produce a rough washboard surface on the dirt roads. If you are not willing to submit your vehicle to this kind of punishment, you are better off avoiding all of the unpaved roads in Big Bend National Park.

NPS\Big Bend National Park
In the "Black Gap"

The remaining unpaved roads are classified as “primitive dirt roads” and are considerably more primitive than the improved dirt roads. Most of the year, the primitive dirt roads like the River Road on the south side of the park are passable only by high clearance and/or four-wheel drive vehicles. Some of these roads, like the Black Gap Road, are not maintained and require determination and considerable driving skill in order to successfully traverse them.

The extremely rocky terrain and the changing condition of these roads means that even the strongest high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle will face a number of challenges while on these routes: boulders and washes, rough washboard areas, sandy areas that can quickly turn muddy after rain, and an abundance of thorns to threaten your tires. Occupants in a vehicle on these routes will find themselves extremely isolated and, other than whatever shade is provided by your vehicle, exposed to the elements of the Chihuahuan Desert. Because many of these roads are infrequently used and patrolled, you must be prepared to deal with any challenges or emergencies that arise.


astynax wrote:The first thing to understand about the Big Bend area is that it is REMOTE. As in it's 5 hours away from the nearest large city. You don't come here for a day trip unless you happen to be a local already. The other thing you have to realize is that it is BIG with all cap letters. Getting from one end of the park to the other may take an hour or more at least. Never mind seeing areas outside the park. That being the case, you want to plan a trip of at least a couple of days. For me, a week is about right to really appreciate the area and unwind. Believe me, you won't be bored.

One thing you should print and take with you is the following website. It has phone numbers to services you're most likely to need in the immediate area.

http://www.visitbigbend.com/necessities.html

Where to stay

The closest "city" is Alpine which is a little over 90 minutes from the closest park gate so knowing where to stay while in the park is a little more important than some other places.

Hotel/Motel - If you are one of those folks who can't stand the night air you have a couple of choices. In Study Butte (pronounced Stoody Boot) there is the Big Bend Motor Inn RV Park & Campground. The motel has 51 rooms. The regular rooms are what you'd expect; bed, bathroom and a TV with cable. The motel says they have suites but I've never stayed in one. The RV park and campground is well laid out and pretty easy to navigate. The campground has several shower houses and the water is warm and plentiful. You get some great views of Bee mountain in the evening as the sun goes down.

In Terlingua there is the Terlingua Ranch Lodge. I've never stayed there and am unable to comment on what the place is like. I'm including the link below for those who might be interested.

Your next option is to stay in the park itself at the Chisos Mountain lodge. I believe there are about 50 rooms total including some for people requiring disabilities access. The rooms are pretty basic, but just about every one of them has a window view of the Chisos so I've never heard any complaints.

There is also the Gage Hotel in Marathon (about 60 minutes away). This is one of those classic western hotels built in the 1920's and is completely restored. You can stay in one of the "old" rooms either with shared plumbing down the hall or with a private bathroom. The hotel has a number of modern rooms and suites that I haven't had a chance to stay in.

One final option is to stay in Alpine. I’ve stayed at the Best Western there a couple of times and the hotel is clean and comfortable. If you need to repair your rig, this is your best bet as the NAPA is only a couple blocks away.

Camping - Well, the sky really is the limit here but you have to decide before you leave what your bathroom/shower needs are. For those who can't stand "primitive" camping you really have two choices. Either the Big Bend Motor Inn or the campground at Rio Grande Village. Rio Grande villages campgrounds are literally right next to the Rio Grande river and you get a wonderful view of the Sierra del Carmen's at sunset and there is plenty of tree cover. Downside is that javelina do live in the area and you MUST lock up your food and other smell-ables in the provided lockers and plan on collapsing any tents when you leave. Also, the showers are in the nearby store, pay, and close around 7pm. On the other hand, if you don't mind a little extra work setting up a proper camp every night you have some options. Personally I think the camping area in the Chisos Basin is too crowded most of the year and I would rather stay either at Johnson's Ranch or Telephone Canyon #1.

Links:
Big Bend Motor Lodge
Terlingua Ranch Lodge
Gate Hotel

Where to eat and drink

STAY AWAY FROM THE GAS STATION FOOD OR GET FOOD POISONING! That's all I'll say on THAT subject.

Believe it or not there are actually several places that serve good food in the area and considering I'm from New Orleans that's saying something.

Chisos Basin Restaurant: It's in the Chisos Mountain ranger area in the building with the gift shop. Some Mexican, but things like burgers and other fare can be had. It’s not gourmet fare, but decent and there are these HUGE windows looking into the basin. I've never heard any complaints.

Chili Bean: For me it's someplace I HAVE to stop at at least once every trip. From the outside it looks like a hole-in-the-wall type of place but the food has always been excellent and the inside has a clean/cozy atmosphere the you never find in a big city. The food is Tex-Mex and well done. The fajitas are the best.

Cafe Cenizo: Another place I try to eat dinner at once a trip if possible. A little more upscale but they serve beer and other fine adult beverages. It's in Marathon so expect a drive if you're staying in the park. If I plan on hitting the road home early, I’ll stay at the Gage and eat dinner here.


Where to go for repairs

Repairs, expect to have to make some if you do a significant amount of wheeling on the trails

Big Bend park is about 90 minutes from Alpine which is the nearest town with parts and services. The store at Rio Grande village does carry some basic (and cheap) tools and fluids but it would be prudent to bring things like oil and extra antifreeze with you. Some basic tools and a spare belt and hoses wouldn't be a bad idea either.

If you find yourself with a dead machine, you can get help a little closer at either Terlingua Auto Repair or at Beechie's. Both places have decent mechanics who are also good guys but all parts have to be ordered from out of town so unless your problem is basic (belts, hoses, u-joints etc.) expect it to be at least a day to get it fixed.

Alpine has several auto parts stores including a Car Quest and NAPA. The NAPA is one of the old school stores and has a good selection and staff. They even managed to find me replacement bolts for my front track bar without too much trouble.

The town also has several auto repair shops. When I asked around after an incident with a boulder Buddy's Auto Repair and Bam Automotive were the ones mentioned.

Things to do and places to go when you are not offroading

The Big Bend area is an outdoorperson's playground. Here you can raft/canoe the white water of the Rio Grande, hike the desert and Chisos Mountains and mountain bike anywhere in the park. You can also explore the ghost town of Terlingua.

For those not as inclined toward outdoor activities, there is antique and curio shopping in Alpine, Marathon and some of the other towns in the area. The Gage Hotel also operates a high quality spa.

For those who are looking for a party, the first weekend in November is the National Chili Cookoff in Terlingua. Actually there are 2 that happen the same weekend (there's a story involved I never got it straight). The big one, however, is put on by CASA (Chili Appreciation Society of America). The society purchase a half section of land in the middle of nowhere and built a couple of permanent structures for entertainment and the beer concession. Friday and Saturday are a huge redneck Mardi Gras where large amounts of liquor flows and plenty of skin is seen. You have to see it to believe it.
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Re: Big Bend National Park - Telingua, Texas

Postby KF5ZXT » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:45 am

Westtexasjku wrote:black gap and old ore road are really fun unmaintained trails
i highly recomend them
they both take several hours bc you theyre long and youll prob stop for at least one meal as well as photo ops.
river road east is good too though its slightly more maintained - good views
the southwest side of the park has an amazing canyon that was inaccessible due to roads being fully washed out when we went
the canyon is called saint elena
the hot springs on the east side are cool too and are about a 1/4 mile hike from the furthest point you can drive to
you can chill in the natural hot springs that are right off the rio grande
every trail we've gone down has awesome views and the scenery constantly changes as your move around the mountains and caprocks
there are camping spots off nearly every trail and at all trail heads
the views at night are RIDICULOUS bc there is zero light pollution
there are semi primitive camping areas near the springs on the east and southeast side of the park that we have been to
its called village something or another (cant recall the exact name right now)
there is a gas station/mini convenience store near the ranger station at panther junction
they also sell beer and ice and snacks

the park is HUGE so seeing it ALL in a day or two isn't possible
espc if you run any trails
if your short on time you can just use the paved park roads and hit the scenic highlights and then run black gap
if i only had two days thats what i would do fo sho

the green vegetation isnt normal in the summer time- we caught it right after some rare summer thunderstorms/flashfloods
late spring/summers/and early fall will all be VERY HOT, espc in the valleys where the wind doesn't get to much
spring is crazy sniffing glue with hikers and scouts and photographers in seach of desert flowers and wildlife
we usually shoot for late fall but decided to roll the dice with this trip and got very lucky w the cooler weather
winters can be harsh, espc at night. it only snows a couple of times a year. its the cold wind thatll get you.
in the passes and canyons the windchill can drop the standing air temp up to 40 more degrees
this time we didn't camp, but instead stayed at the chisos mountain lodge there in the middle of the park (women out voted us this time!)
the lodge has amazing views and is a nice break from the trails to shower and get some warm food and a soft bed
we will camp next time when its cooler out

also be aware that there is a border crossing (boquillo i think) and the rio grande is not patrolled in the park and the entire southern border of the park butts up to mexico. the park is the 2nd largest natl park in the country and is by far the most remote. there is zero cell service and the border patrol nor park rangers patrol the park. its just too big and doesnt generate enough revenue to justify the manpower for them. rangers drive the main roads for their morning reports and thats about it. i ALWAYS carry weapons (plural) with/on me and ALWAYS tell someone not going with us what trails on what days we're taking and leave them a map. i def do not what to run up on drug smuggler(s) unarmed and with no cell service. that being said we hardly ever see ANYONE out there on the trails so bring enough tools and emergency parts and fluids etc and enough water and food to be able to hike out if you and your other vehicle(s) all experience catastrophic failures. several of the trails are upwards of 30 miles long with no turnoffs or intersections with other trails and they wind through dry creek beds and up and down ridge lines. though a lot of the trails are pretty chill the surrounding country its very very rough so try not to go wheeling in just one vehicle if you can help it at all. plus there are mountain lions and bears. it would be a biatch to hike out of either black gap or old ore.

its an awesome time with wonderful views so please dont let the last paragraph scare you away.
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Re: Big Bend National Park - Telingua, Texas

Postby TxPlates » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:04 pm

This is one of the places I want to take the trac. Wait till it gets a little cooler so we can just stop and camp.
Last edited by TxPlates on Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Big Bend National Park - Telingua, Texas

Postby KF5ZXT » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:06 pm

Hell yeah.
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Re: Big Bend National Park - Telingua, Texas

Postby KF5ZXT » Wed Sep 11, 2013 11:41 am

Big Bend, Terlingua, Marfa, Marathon, Alpine

Big Bend NP Jan 2013

Big Bend National Park: A week in the wilderness
Ash wrote:Video Here...http://www.vimeo.com/17231150

Houston to Big Bend National Park (and back again)

[This Report co-insides with Bryans which is here: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=49050]

After weeks and weeks of gear purchase and preparation, our day of departure approached with worrying rapidity. This was our first ‘major’ trip for Holly and I, neither of us having any camping or overlanding experience whatsoever. Expedition Portal proved invaluable for gear and vendor selection with Sierra Expeditions, TRDParts4U, BajaRack, American Toyota and craigslist (amongst many others) all getting a workout.

The itinerary? Well, the idea was to spend 9 days away from Houston headed West to Big Bend National Park. The kicker was our two extra passengers – Holly’s parents were flying in to stay with us for a month.

The final week saw parcel after parcel arriving each day, and our nights spent trialing, test packing, cooking and preparing meals. When Thursday night finally rolled around and we headed off to the airport to pick up the (future) in-laws we were both pretty exhausted but we felt we had done everything we needed to get done.

After a shortened day at work on Friday we shot home and loaded up the Land Cruiser and hit the road just in time for peak hour traffic… All went smoothly though and after a few detours on the San Antonia expressways we checked in at a budget hotel for the night. 3.5 hours done. 7 hours to go. After a ‘lovely’ continental breakfast it was on the road again. Albeit for 10 minutes as we called in Academy sports for a few clothing essentials that they in-laws hadn’t brought with them (they had been traveling for over a month in England and as such had packed pretty light). I picked up a couple of Columbia fishing shirts – these proved to be brilliant as they are cool and dry fast.

We decided to take the southern route to Big Bend, heading through Del Rio and Sanderson before a left turn at Marathon. On the way, we went through a US Boarder Patrol stop but sailed through no problem (thanks for the heads up on the passports Bryan!). The drive from Del Rio to Marathon is quite pretty for Texas, with plenty of large canyons and waterways to cross.

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The Land Cruiser laden with gear. We stopped West of Del Rio to check out the Pecos River from the US 90 bridge.

You start to get a taste of the offerings Big Bend may have as you approach Sanderson and the terrain shifts from rolling hills to slightly more abrupt butts and juts. Mile after mile of lonely highway, with only empty train tracks to keep us company took us all the way through to Marathon, our final fuel stop and the last leg of the journey to the Park.

From Marathon you take US 385 South. This is where the scenery really starts to get interesting. Limestone ridgelines protrude from weathered hills and look remarkably like a Stegosaurus’ armour plates at times. Other features include a mile of uniformly folded cream color limestone looking like a perfect sinusoidal wave across the landscape.

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A spiny ridgeline off US385 south to Big Bend

An hour after departing Marathon we enter the park proper. A quick stop at the ranger station to pay the park fees and get some advice, we hit the road again heading for the Rio Grande village and our liaison with Bryan and Angela in the Xterra and Mike in the 4runner. What struck us, once we set off from the station was just how vast the park is – it would another 45 minutes of driving (at 45pmh) just to get to the Village! Anyhow – a long days driving saw us arrive to very warm campsite right on the US Mexican border.

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We made it! First things first: Beers and snacks before we contemplate setting up camp.

Bryan, Angela and Mike roll in soon after from a day on Big Bends gravel roads. We catch up, tent up, beer up and cook up feeling good to finally be here.

The next day saw us driving the trails on Big Bends ‘toughest’ roads. Damn it was hot, but also very very special to see this part of the park. The Park is known for the Chisos Mountains, but it is the contrast between these sky islands and the surrounding desert and rivers which make Big Bend truly unique. From a stark, desolate, dry and dangerous desert floor to a green semi alpine environment in the mountains. We loved the drive around the base of the mountains as it gives you some perspective of the abrupt and forceful uplift of the protruding intrusive igneous upwellings.

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A few narrow sections that required a careful approach on the Black Gap Road

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Navigating one of the many washouts along the trial. They didn’t represent a problem to our vehicles but reaffirmed the ‘high clearance’ status of the road. As usual, these things look much tamer in the photos…

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Arrival at the Black Gap pass. A culvert in the hillside and the crux of the trail. As you can see, most of the gap has been cemented over, leaving only the step as the challenging part of the Gap (or so we thought).

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Bryan leading the pack up the step.

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Toyota's follow suit.

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Interestingly the trail just after the step got quite tight and required some careful driving to avoid some rocks on the low side of the ditch.

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Oh f*@k. Slee Sliders probably on order soon…

After conquering the ‘Gap’ we continued on the trail before taking a detour to the Mariscal Mines:

Abandoned since the 1940s, and isolated by its remote location in the middle of Big Bend National Park, the Mariscal Mine is the best preserved mercury mining site in the state of Texas, and is a listed historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. ([url="http://www.nps.gov/bibe/historyculture/mariscalmine.htm"]http://www.nps.gov/bibe/historyculture/mariscalmine.htm[/url])

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Turning off the Black Gap road toward to mines.

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West Tejas Desert.

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We drove up to the car park which left a short (5 min) hike up to mine site. To have worked here in the early 20th century in this environment would have been incredibly harsh. Not to mention the ensuing mercury poisoning…

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Looking down from behind the main processing facilities

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Abandoned rubble that is unsafe to handle due to the very high residual mercury content. Don’t touch if you would like children…

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We climbed to the top of the hill and were rewarded with more great views. This is Elephant Tusk peak.

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Just like a bought one.

From here it was a bumpy hour or more back to camp at the Rio Grande Village. It was a long day in hot weather but one I won’t forget for a long time. Sunday night saw our last night together as Bryan, Angela and Mike were taking off the next morning to head back to Houston, whilst we would stay for the week. To say Sunday night was ‘interesting’ is an understatement. When you are camping right on the border, with just 100 feet of water separating you from illegal activity, and pick-up trucks drive silently into the campsite after dark with canoes on the roof you know something is going on! Flashlight signaling across the river gave the game away... No one bothered us though, as expected whatever went down, these folks are not interested in disturbing Park visitors, and will try to avoid any contact.

Monday morning – here we say goodbye and head out on our own. We planned to spend the remainder of our trip up in the mountains as it was too hot at the Village campsite. The Rio Grande is at ~1900ft and you climb up to over ~5400ft to reach the Chisos Basin which affords a nice drop in daytime temperature making the park that much more bearable in the summer time.

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We checked out a bird walk in the making before leaving the Rio Grande campsite

On the way to the Chisos campsite we called into the Boquillos Canyon
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Looking south to the dramatic mountains across the border.

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Near the Boquillos canyon lookout

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A short hike from the car park takes you into the canyon proper:

The canyon is in the far southeast corner of the park along road 118, past the Rio Grande campsite and a turn-off leading to an unofficial border crossing to the village of Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico. The approach is quite dramatic - the high, layered cliffs around the river are topped by huge, angular mountains on the Mexican side of the river, part of the Maderas Del Carmen Protected Area. At the end of the road, a well-used 0.7 mile path leads up and over a stony ridge, though a sandy area with thick bamboo then out onto a pebble beach at riverside. Gaunt cliffs tower above, and close in downstream. A distinctive feature on the Texas side is a large sand drift half way up the cliffs, formed by the prevailing winds blowing sand from the desert into the mouth of the canyon. ([url="http://www.americansouthwest.net/Texas/big_bend/boquillas_canyon.html"]http://www.americansouthwest.net/Texas/big_bend/boquillas_canyon.html[/url])

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Boquillos Canyon is also where Victor, the singing Mexican serenades you from across the river. His voice is beautiful and before you know it he has rowed across the river in this little boat to offer you some trinkets.
Of course we didn’t buy anything. That would be illegal.


From here we skirted the mountains driving north back to Panther Junction and then to the Chisos Basin entrance.

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The Basin is magnificent. The dramatic geology, the wildlife, the cooler temperatures! All make for a truly memorable experience. We camped here for 5 nights and definitely could have stayed much much longer. There are so many hikes to explore and books to read just lazing around the campsite. At this time of year (Labor day) and staying midweek, we almost had the place to ourselves. It is easy to see how it would become a nightmare though in peak periods. The peace and quiet would quickly evaporate as the campsites are very close.

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Our site. Loved it.

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Casa Grande in the background. Holly and I made an attempt to climb it. The ‘trail’ is not on any maps or signposted but we meet a couple of guys who had done it earlier that week. The ‘trail’ is off the Old Mine Trail and is a serious undertaking. Allow 3 hours up, with a lot of scrambling and some grade 4 sections. We headed up too late in the day so turned around mid way at the saddle. Maybe next trip…

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Pictures taken along the Casa Grande route.

Next day we hiked the Window Trail, which was quite hot as you are out of the wind for most of the walk.

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Above the Window Trail looking over the same view The view from the Window itself limited.

Wildlife was abound in the Basin – here is a selection of fauna that I managed to capture:
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No bears or lions unfortunately but we heard many stories from folks we met on the hikes of encounters.

Holly and I decided to hike the South Rim and overnight it to catch a sunrise and a sunset. We had a great recommendation from a friend that this was a must do when in the Chisos. He wasn’t wrong. The rim at these times of the day was just incredible. It was a 3 hour slog up but well worth it. We camped on the Southwest Rim before hiking down the Boot Canyon Trail the next morning to meet up with Holly’s Father where we ascended Emory Peak (7832ft).

The hike up to the Southwest Rim wasn’t easy as you climb a long way and gain a lot of elevation in a short period of time. What did surprise us was the diversity along the trail. We hiked through pretty barren areas, then into quiet grass filled meadows before encountering a semi alpine environment with pines and alpine flowers. What amazed me was the juxtaposition of a spiny cactus growing in the shadow of an alpine pine! What a weird and wonderful place. I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here:

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The hike to the Emory trail head was pretty long, and by the time we reached the peak itself we were getting fairly tired. But the view made it all worthwhile. Looking down on Chisos Basin:

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The South Rim overnight trail with Emory Peak thrown in for good measure was a hike we won’t forget. I highly recommend it. (Don’t forget you’ll need to get an overnight pass from the ranger station in the Chisos Basin to book a campsite).

While in the Park, we also took the opportunity to drive out of the Basin and southwest to the Santa Elena Canyon. The route to the canyon affords numerous opportunities for short side trips and hikes and lookout points. The Canyon itself is much larger than the Boquillos Canyon, but sadly no signing Victor to serenade us here. As forewarned in the guide book we had, the river was running fairly high so had to ford it before resuming the trail. The trail zig zags its way up before following the river upstream into the canyon proper. You slowly descend to the canyon floor where the flora is incredibly lush and green and walls are exceptionally high. Now, this is no Grand Canyon, but it is very special none the less.

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On the drive back to the Chisos Basin we took the time to take some landscape shots:

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Saturday morning we packed up and drove out. What a wonderful experience, something never to forget and very special to share it. If had to describe Big Bend National Park in one word, it would be: Contrast.
Hope you enjoyed the trip report. We will be back.

Ash and Holly.



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Re: Big Bend National Park - Telingua, Texas

Postby KF5ZXT » Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:50 pm

Big Bend Country 2012 (Part 1)

Posted by: Mike Leary Posted date: January 16, 2012
A trip, you say? Surely this venture to Big Bend deserves a better moniker. Recreational excursion sounds more fitting. I will do my best to communicate my account of our adventures in Big Bend. This area is stunningly beautiful, and Central Overland is not responsible for the actions motivated by this trip report or the money spent to visit. :-)

Enjoy…

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Familiar faces greeted Brett, Nigel, and I as we pulled into the Shell station in Marathon,TX. Perched right on the corner for the turnoff to Big Bend National Park, it is a fitting place to begin our trips to Big Bend. We have given lots of business to them over the years. The whole group had not arrived yet, which was good in this case. We needed to pick up a few things… and maybe even sample a bit of the local cuisine. A couple of choice hamburgers hit the spot after our long drive, and a quick trip to a local liquor store resulted in a nice big bottle of bourbon, which would hit the spot later.

Everyone fueled up? Checked your extinguishers and med kits? What CB channel?

We were off…

My anticipation always gets the best of me on the final stretch of 385 approaching the park. Although the scenery is beautiful even at 60mph, you can hardly slow down to enjoy when you know you are so close!

We reached the check in, paid our entry fees, and proceeded to Panther Junction to get our back country permits for the next few days. The park was sniffing glue, the busiest that I have ever seen it, but thankfully we were able to get permits at agreeable sites. I guess not many people “glamp” in the back country, and we would have Telephone Canyon all to ourselves the first night. :-)

There was plenty of time, and we decided to make our way up to Chisos Basin for a peek at the high country. The drive of course, was breathtaking, but it is difficult to get a good picture and easy to loose perspective amidst the shear faces and peaks all around.

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Well… we found them… the tourists! These creatures have markings that are easily identifiable, yet they blend in with each other so well, it is difficult to distinguish an individual from the herd. Male markings: Hat with “(whatever)” logo, camera around the neck, shorts with extra pockets, and a t-shirt with matching “(whatever)” logo, hiking boots with socks pulled half way up to the knees. Female markings: Overly large hat usually accompanied by a hand to keep it from blowing away, t-shirt with “(whatever)” logo, light colored pants or shorts, and shoes that are decidedly NOT suitable for the territory, although perhaps more comfortable then those of her accompanying male, who has yet to break his shoes in.

Tourist pairs with young offspring can be described in two ways: the trip out, and the trip back. Trip out: Male carrying camera and walking far ahead of the family group, female carrying everything else, while continuously occupied with keeping the children on the path and out of danger, children completely consumed by whatever attracts their attention as they walk by. Trip back: Female walking ahead while dragging one child, male very sweaty and lagging behind while carrying another child and everything else that was brought on the adventure.

We didn’t stay long at all, rather we barely even stopped the trucks. Back down the road out of the mountains and back to the north end of the park, where we make our way to Old Ore Road. We aired down, and Nigel lead the group down Dagger Flat Road to the loop at the end. We proceeded to Old Ore Road and our campsite at Telephone Canyon.

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Most of the group was tired from the long drive, so we decided that tomorrow would in fact be December 32nd, and that we would celebrate the new year the following evening. We enjoyed each other’s company around the blue lantern, then one by one headed off for bed.

A sharp jolt brought me to my senses. The loud flapping of canvas and violent shaking was accompanied by a howling only powerful enough to be made by Momma Nature herself…What the heck was going on?


Big Bend Country 2012 (Part 2)

Posted by: Mike Leary Posted date: January 19, 2012

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I knew that we would be catching thermals coming down the canyon during the night, but these were intense. I glanced outside to check the rest of the camp just as the winds stopped abruptly. Everyone still okay, no tents down. Good to go? This time we heard it coming and braced for impact. The tent rocked, and the trailer swayed. The canvas buffeted and the tent poles bent under the strain. The wind stopped again. We didn’t waste any time. Brett and I hopped down from the tent into the cold night. He batoned down the hatches of the tent while I stowed the gear on our kitchen table. The freshly cleaned dishes already had a healthy coat of desert dust, but luckily the paper towels had been tucked into the wheel well of the trailer and had therefore been spared a ride across the desert. Some items were gone… we would have to look for them in the morning… the howling was coming down the canyon again. Brett climbed up just in time to close the hatch, I stayed down this time to make sure the tent was not going to be damaged by the storm. It had survived rough winds before, but not this rough. It was a long night to say the least.

Zack and Curtis spoke of what if feels like to be “hugged” by your tent, Rob and Angela talked about their sandblasting experience originating just below their rainfly, and of course Brett and I relayed our storm perspective from the second floor. Nigel, the ever ready Overlander, had positioned his tent perfectly and had suffered only minor sleep loss. Luck favors the prepared.

Our campsite at Telephone Canyon:

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A late morning was in order after the long night. We licked our wounds and packed up while Curtis whipped up some vittles. The sun was high as we made our way to Ernst Tinaja. The hike was breathtaking.

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Nigel showed us, ahem… more cardio-vascularly challenged folks how to scramble up a cliff.

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Rob and Angela explored an interesting rock formation, a natural sky light:

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We ate lunch before proceeding down the remainder of Old Ore Road. The moon was rising over the Sierra del Carmen, and I stopped to take a picture:

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We rejoined pavement and headed for Boquillas Canyon.

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My excitement grew as we approached. I had never hiked into Boquillas Canyon before, but I knew that it was one of the most scenic canyons in the world. It just so happened that lighting conditions were favorable for photography as well. I tried my hand at some vertical panoramas as well as single shot captures of the canyon walls.

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Nigel and Rob climbed up toward a large cave in the side of the canyon. Of course the cave looked close, but the steep grade and sheer size of everything else in the canyon played tricks on one’s perspective.

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We never did catch a glimpse of the Caballeros on the other side… just their horses. Mexican livestock often stray across the Rio Grande into the U.S., and while it’s technically illegal to cross to retrieve them, its not a high priority for those guarding the border. Buena suerte, viajeros!

We heard a pathetic call as we hiked back toward the trucks. Closer inspection revealed a few baby goats scampering around on the Mexican side of the river. Brett was captivated, and walked to the river to take a look:

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We left a small donation for Victor, the singing Mexican, and left. Victor sings for the tourists during the day, and paddles over at night to collect the donations. He was not there this time, but I recall his singing from past trips. Alas, Brett would not adopt a baby goat this trip, and we pulled out of the parking lot and headed to Rio Grande Village to top off the tanks and check out the Hot Springs.

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We came, we saw, we… meh… we were kinda disappointed. We didn’t see any petroglyphs and the hot spring was full of people. On our return trip we learned a little more about the colorful history of the place, and Nigel posed for a photo in one of the old buildings.

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The shadows were lengthening, so we hit the road again. We still had to cover East River Road and the bottom part of Glenn Springs before making camp at the beginning of Black Gap Road. We partied like it was nineteen-ninety nine (insert beat box).


Big Bend Country 2012 (Part 3)

Posted by: Mike Leary Posted date: January 23, 2012

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I woke early, and decided to try to walk off the hangover that threatened day three of my vacation. I noticed that Nigel had the same idea, while the rest of the group had more restful plans. We walked the beginning of Black Gap Road while Nigel gave an impromptu history lesson on the surrounding area. I snapped some pictures while listening intently.

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The group was stirring as we strode back into camp. Nathan and Aaron, who had joined us the night before, were getting their camera gear out for the filming that we would do later that day. When the group was breakfasted, we pulled out onto Black Gap Road… for a couple hundred yards before stopping to investigate the old graves that are almost all that is left of the old village of Glenn Springs.

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I am always struck with a heightened sense of awareness around spiritual places like these. My mind wanders, trying to imagine the people who lay before me, who they were, what they looked like, and their struggle to survive here so many years ago. They lived their lives here at an oasis in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert. They grew some crops and raised livestock so that they could feed the workers at the nearby wax factory and in the mines. Summer temperatures were absolutely brutal and unrelenting, a reality that is easy to forget with the advent of modern comforts. These people had to be tough survivors in an unforgiving land… a fact known all too well and felt all too often, as indicated by the child sized graves. I closed my eyes for a moment so I could try to re-create the village and its inhabitants, but I would be disappointed. The facts lay before me, but the human element seemed distant and hard to comprehend.

We moved on, snaking our way through the canyons, over the ridges, and into the valleys. We crossed arroyos and rocky washouts, taking in the scenery in a fashion only permitted by a slow pace.

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Soon we came to the road’s namesake, a narrow gap in the black volcanic rock. We scrambled up one by one and squeeked past the rocks in the off camber section just after the gap.

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I was pleased to see that the unsanctioned bypass had finally been closed off. The scar left by those who created and used the bypass was still visible. I’ll take a moment to step up on my soapbox, if you will permit me. “Yes, its off camber. Yes there are rocks that threaten to kiss your truck. Plowing your own trail through the fragile desert landscape is STILL, absolutely unacceptable. Deal with it or don’t go out there! Tread Lightly and preserve the land for future generations.” (Stepping off soapbox now)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch… :-)

Next on the agenda was Mariscal Mine. We stopped for lunch before taking the short hike up to the mine. There were tons of “artifacts,” which basically means really old trash. :-) Interesting regardless, and in my opinion, one of the best hikes of the trip.

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There are signs warning visitors against touching the contaminated bricks in the ruins. Mine shafts were clearly visible, but were all gated off to preserve the bat habitat and protect visitors from injury. The gates were welcomed for once, as the deep shafts and loose soil around them could easily turn a bad step into a bad day. We were content to observe, and I found myself obsessing over the intricacies of their operation due to my own experience in the manufactured stone industry. I stood in high places and watched. Others examined the entrances to mine shafts. To each his own bliss to follow.

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We all ended up at the top of the hill overlooking the mine and the valleys on either side. A beautiful spot, and we elected to stay a spell. Aaron and I played with the cameras while the rest of the group sat, filling up their souls. From our vantage point, we had a commanding view of the surrounding area. To our northeast and far in the distance lay the Sierra del Carmen. Looking further south we could see the Sierra de San Vicente, extending far into Mexico. To the west and northwest lay the Chisos. The Rio Grande seemed but a trickle next the the majesty of its creation.

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As always, the beckon call of the dusty road brought us back to the trucks, and we continued our journey across the park. Our destination was the far west side of the park, Terlingua Abajo, but in between lay over 30 miles of roads through the back country of Big Bend.

We sped down River Road West, taking in the desert as we went. We discovered that the recent rains had attracted both cattle and the herd of wild horses that roams this area.

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We chased the sun on its westerly course. Soon we could see the Ejido de Santa Elena, and we knew that we were getting close. The sheer size of the walls of this mesa play tricks on the mind. They can be seen from miles away, yet it is not until you are truly nearby that you realize that they are in fact over 1200 feet high. We stopped for a moment to take a look, then continued on to Terlingua Abajo. We would be setting up base camp tonight, and striking out across the desert in the morning on our way to Santa Elena Canyon.

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Big Bend Country 2012 (Part 4)

Posted by: Mike Leary Posted date: February 05, 2012

It was still dark, but the light coming from under the horizon promised another beautiful scene in the coming minutes. It was warmer than previous mornings, which made it easier to muster the enthusiasm to leave the comfort of the RTT and venture out with the camera. It was a few hundred feet around the hill to reach the first ruins, but I decided to climb straight over it. It would prove to be just the warmup I needed to reach a comfortable temperature. From the hilltop I had a good view of the surrounding area, and made my calculations regarding the expected location of further ruins. I sauntered down to the ruins nearby camp. It appeared to be to separate structures built on the same foundation. I was impressed by the stonework, and the “patio” appeared to cover around 400 square feet beyond the structures. This would have been quite the spot for entertaining family and friends. A beautiful view of the mesa and Santa Elena canyon, a small tributary river less than 1/8th of a mile away, with the hill providing some relief from the afternoon sun. It was in this breif moment that I felt a connection to these people… “I see what you did there! Clever.”

I walked back toward camp and noticed that Nathan and Aaron were getting off to an early start as well. We decided to walk across the stream to find the ruins on the other side. The curves of the land hid the prize until we were almost on top of the town. We walked among the ruins and puzzled over artifacts, then something caught our attention. We walked over to the old chapel to investigate, passing several graves on our way.

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Once again the numerous child sized graves told the tale of the perils of existance out here. Some of the graves were adorned with more modern tributes, and one even had a modest (but modern) headstone tucked in beneath the wooden cross. We decided that the most likely explanation for this was family who had returned to the site to honor and preserve the memory of their ancestors.

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The sun was high enough now to call it “morning,” and we headed back to camp for breakfast and to prepare for our hike to Santa Elena canyon, the only thing on the agenda for the day.

The group was stirring as we returned. A hearty breakfast hit the spot, and we prepped our day packs for our hike. It would be across the back country with no trail, but this is probably the easiest country to navigate with its many cleary distinguishable landmarks. We set out for the ruins of the old town.

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Variety is the spice of life, and I delighted in watching the interaction between the group members and the ruin sites. Some were reverent, almost timid amongst the ruins, content to observe from a short distance away. Some looked closer, immersing themselves in their surroundings, anxious to re-create what life was like here in their minds. Still others examined the layout of the town and the structures, attributing causation and meaning to describe the purpose of it all. Fascinating to watch, and as always I was intrigued to get a glimpse into the minds of intelligent people from very different walks of life.

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To the southeast of the town lay open desert devoid of vegitation. It was crystal clear where the people had gathered the wood to build the roofs of their homes. The cottonwood trees that typically dominate the banks of the streams and the low lying areas were decidedly absent. After we had covered some distance, the vegitation started to return.

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I decided to lead the group away from the stream and through the thicker vegitation. The layout of the land would suggest that there would be some more ruins due south of us along the base of the mesa, perhaps with far less impact from modern sight seers. Eventually though, the difficulty of our progress overcame our patience, and we returned to the stream (an arroyo at this point). Another mile and a half and we were at the Rio Grande. It was only now that we could see the true scale of it all. The “narrow” split at the mouth of the canyon could fit a full sized basketball court. The river was very low, as low as I have ever seen it. There were cows grazing on the Mexican side. They didn’t speak english. We started the short hike into the canyon, which was refreshingly cool after our 2.5 mile walk across the back country. Up and up we went on the switchbacks, then started the gradual descent back into the canyon. The sandy trail led us passed giant boulders and lush vegitation. The canyon walls towered over us, and the breeze made a dull yet soothing sound as it crept between the walls. We reached the end of the trail, and stopped to soak it all in.

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Nigel and I made a brief attempt to scamper around the rock outcropping to the back further up the river, but with the river lavel so low, we could not gain a good footing on the slippery rocks below, and aborted our attempt. Another day I’ll come with a canoe or a raft, which is without a doubt the best way to experience the true majesty of this canyon. With everyone’s souls topped off, we hiked out, following the arroyo all the way back to camp.

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We arrived in time for a late lunch, and I was thirsty, my friends.

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Chores filled up the rest of the day. We prepped for the second leg of our trip, showered, and enjoyed each others company around the lantern. We had a long day ahead of us, and everyone turned in early. Tomorrow we would reach Big Bend Ranch State Park, where the true test of our vehicles and our skill would begin.


Big Bend Country 2012 (Part 5)

Posted by: Mike Leary Posted date: July 22, 2012
We had a healthy, but small breakfast consisting of oatmeal and coffee. The trailer had been packed up the night before, so apart from closing up the RTT, we were ready to go. Everyone in the group knew that we had a schedule, and everyone got an early start on breaking camp. I took some time to walk around camp and check on everyone and their rigs. Today’s terrain would be easy, but tomorrow’s would not. It was not by accident that the state park visit was after the national park visit. I wanted the rigs shaken down and less heavily laden with supplies when we got there.

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We left Terlingua Abajo and headed out of the park on Old Maverick Road with the morning sun still low in the sky. The clouds looked like water colors and the Chisos stood majestically as always, stern, yet inviting. We decided to wait until we reached our fuel stop in Terlingua to air up. Everyone topped off and we filled our 50 gallons worth of reserve cans. A limited re-supply at the general store and it was time to go. The convoy headed east on FM170 towards Presidio and our destination.

We made a brief stop at the Ranger station and purchased our permits. Nigel could not resist the urge to stock up on the detailed maps that were available, and everyone took in the historical displays.

FM170 roughly follows the Rio Grande, but takes full advantage of efficiencies in the topography where available. In some cases, there really isn’t any way but up and over, and Colorado Canyon (aka Big Hill) is one of these. After the rest stop with the teepee structures, the road makes a sharp turn to the right and goes up a steep grade, the Rio Grande flowing hundreds of feet below. Pulling the support trailer loaded down with supplies did not make the truck very happy, and we were in the top of first gear when we reached the saddle. We stopped for some pictures.

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We pushed on to Closed Canyon, our only hike for the day. We were in the heat of the day now, and out in the open it was starting to feel like Texas! This quickly changed when we reached the Canyon. Refreshingly cool canyon walls and an intermittent breeze ensured us that we had picked a good spot to explore. Closed Canyon is very old, older than many of the larger canyons in the area, and is deeply cut into the land. If a Canyon could be likened to the “salt of the earth,” this would be it; stubborn and interesting, but not grandiose nor spectacular from a distance.

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We made our way through the twists and turns, admiring the geological points of interest. The canyon has an “in your face” nature, a sort of do or die attitude expressed through its steep angles and tough flora. When hiking here you have to be mindful, as any rainfall in the area can cause this to fill up with water in a hurry. Brett made a mock attempt to scale the canyon wall when we reached the drop off at the end of the trail.

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We had worked up a good hunger, and made our way back to the trucks. Unfortunately there were lots of ants around the picnic area, so we elected to move on to a little place up ahead on the banks of the Rio Grande.

We were noticing more and more Border Patrol trucks in the area, perhaps accentuated by their absence during the previous days of our journey. We turned off on Bofecillos Road and aired down. We would have to spread out due to the dust, and eventually we worked ourselves into small clusters in slightly staggered formations. The road was wide, and travel was swift as we could feel our excitement growing. Casa Piedra Road took us into the park. We stopped at Sauceda Ranch before heading to our campsite at Pila Montoya.

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This was the coldest evening of the trip. Tucked away in our little canyon the temperatures were in the low forties, and with no fire, fire water would have to do the trick as we sat around the lantern.
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