Big Bend National Park, Thanksgiving 2016 (part 1)

Discussion in 'Hiking & Camping' started by piper01, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. piper01

    piper01 Member

    Messages:
    126
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Nov 24-25, 2016

    I had the unexpected opportunity to visit Big Bend National Park over Thanksgiving. The park hadn't been on my radar, but a week or two before Thanksgiving a friend declared he wanted to go camping and managed to pull together me and two others to join him. The timing worked out; he was taking the entire week off work, so he went out early to grab a campsite while the rest of us started the drive out Wednesday afternoon after work. The route from Houston was simple: drive 500 miles west on I-10, then another 100 miles south on US-385. After a brief overnight nap in the car, we finally made it to the park Thursday morning.

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    Our first look at the Chisos Mountains as we drove through the park.
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    After reuniting with our friend at the visitor center, we continued the drive to our first hike: the Window Trail.
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    We saw neither mountain lions nor the elusive stick people. IMG_8716_crop.jpg

    Chisos Mountains, consisting of volcanic rocks IMG_8718.JPG
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    Nice, easy to follow trail IMG_8732.JPG

    Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids! IMG_8733.JPG

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    Soon we encountered the creek, with flowing water this time of year.
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    View through "The Window" at the pouroff marking the end of the trail. IMG_8750.JPG
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    The return hike
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    After the hike, we climbed back in our vehicles for the drive to Cottonwood Campground. Along the way, the road passed this neat perpendicular intersection of a dike through the country rock.
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    We set up our tents and scarfed down our Thanksgiving feast of ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, and homemade apple pie, then settled in for a little stargazing before bed. Probably one of the best Thanksgivings I've had! IMG_8790.JPG

    We woke up dark and early the next morning to drive to one of the nearby overlooks to watch the sunrise with hot cocoa, coffee, and muffins.
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    After a stop back at camp for second breakfast (ham and eggs!), we set off for Santa Elena Canyon, our first hike of the day.
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    I loved the juxtaposition of the new green growth next to the old brown growth.
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    Cactus, in detail. IMG_8903.JPG

    The Rio Grande. To the right is Mexico, to the left is the US.
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    The river running between the limestone walls of Santa Elena Canyon
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    Water running down the rock left this cool pattern. It looked like it should have been textured, but it was all smooth to the touch.
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    Iron concretions in the limestone IMG_8920.JPG

    Spider dance IMG_8929.JPG

    Fossiliferous limestone IMG_8930.JPG

    Hiking back. The clouds that had lent themselves to such a beautiful sunrise now resulted in an overcast morning.
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    The mighty Rio Grande.
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    Onward to our next hike: Ernst Tinaja! The road was labeled as a 4WD road, but was in good enough condition that any high-clearance vehicle could drive it. I even saw a BMW sedan on the road; must have been a rental.
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    Flowers at the start of the hike. IMG_8943.JPG
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    Soon, the colors started appearing in the rock: reds, pinks, oranges, and purples. IMG_8947.JPG

    Tiny faults! IMG_8951.JPG
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    We slowly meandered through this section, stopping often to examine the many folds and colors.
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    Faults and folds. IMG_8971.JPG

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    Ernst Tinaja IMG_8983.JPG

    Fault gouge in a zone at least a foot wide IMG_8987_FaultGouge.JPG

    Looking back in the direction from which we had come
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    More colors
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    With plenty of light left, we continued on upcanyon, climbing over some minor obstacles. IMG_9002.JPG
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    The first big obstacle: a dryfall which we easily chimneyed up. IMG_9009.JPG

    It was followed by several other small dryfalls and big ledges to clamber up, one requiring a helpful hand from a taller member of the group.
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    Fossils! IMG_9027.JPG
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    The canyon walls opened back up, and we were back to easy(ish) walking. IMG_9042_edit.jpg
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    Spider IMG_9055.JPG

    The return trip back downcanyon, negotiating the rock at the top of the first big dryfall.
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    Then an easy slide down. Whee!
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    Late afternoon sun IMG_9064.JPG

    And back at the tinaja
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    Just one more picture of the folded rocks, I promise! IMG_9087.JPG
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    Enrst Tinaja was by far my favorite hike of the trip, with the colorful folded rocks and the scrambling upcanyon. I give it two thumbs up!

    Quick stop in the late afternoon light at the Boquillas overlook, then onward to the hot springs for a relaxing soak.
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    Sunset on the walk out the the hot springs, a great end to a great day. IMG_9095.JPG

    ***
    part 2 here: http://backcountrypost.com/threads/big-bend-national-park-thanksgiving-2016-part-2.6426/
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2017
    ROKTAXI, Kmatjhwy, someguy and 9 others like this.
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