We got to Big Bend National Park at dusk (this blog post). We quickly ate our beans and some kind of quick-cook rice dish, put all the food in the bear boxes (which made Matt think twice about his sleeping accommodations), and went to bed. It was COLD. I understand that we were not in Wyoming or Alaska or Antarctica. We were not in blizzard conditions. I can’t even imagine that. But this was plenty cold enough for me and, looking ahead to a whole night, I was turning into a real weenie. I eventually warmed up in my sleeping bag, but I had a realization about winter road trips. It gets dark at 6:00 and when it is really cold and you can’t have a fire there is nothing else to do but get into a sleeping bag. During our summer road trips we may go to bed at 9 or 10 and then read for awhile. But 6:00 is a full five or six hours earlier than my normal bedtime. I have decided that any future winter toad trips may include motels. But I digress…
Sunrise from the campsite in the morning. I wouldn’t have seen that from a motel room.
We spent the night in the back of the truck. Notice Matt’s cot and sleeping bag. Fortunately no one was bothered by bears.
…although we saw this sign at the trailhead right near our camp.
We left camp early and went for a hike up the Lost Mine Trail. I was glad that I had a walking stick with me because much of the trail was icy and slippery.
This is the view to the south from where we were standing in the last photo. The southern border of the park is the Rio Grande but I’m not sure which of these mountain ridges border the river.
We had only a day and a half to spend in this area so we didn’t plan to do any long hikes, but instead see as much of the Park as we could and get out where there were signs and shorter trails.
This stop was at the Sam Nail Ranch where there is a short trail to the remnants of an adobe dwelling built around 1909 when the Nail family lived here. The family planted fruit trees and raised livestock, living here until the 1940’s.
“Matt, hold still.”
View from Sotol Vista. Do you see that slot in the middle ridge, just left of the photo’s center? That is Santa Elena Canyon, about 12 miles southwest of this point, where the Rio Grande slices through the mountain, forming a narrow canyon with 1500′ walls. That will be for the next post.
The Mule Ears View Point was the next stop.
I didn’t identify all the different kinds of cactus, but noticed some that were distinctly purple.
We walked into Tuff Canyon, so named for it’s volcanic origins.
We stopped at the Visitor’s Center at Castolon on the southern border of the Park. We planned to stay at one of the “primitive” campsites on this site of the Park that night but were told that they were all reserved so we started thinking about Plan B. There was more to see though before we really had to worry about that.
There were a lot of interpretive signs at this point. Castolon was first settled in 1901 and became a destination for refugees fleeing the Mexican Revolution. Barracks were built but never used by the army and in the 1920’s the La Harmonia Company established a trading post and started growing and ginning cotton. That venture ended in the 1940’s.
This is the modern day view of that same landscape.
One of the old building that still remains at Castolon.
I think this statement is true.
We stopped at the Dorgan House Trail, where there were more ruins.
It felt like lunch time. Dan couldn’t fit all the way in where he had stashed the box with my granola. Eventually I squeezed in there and he pulled me out by my feet because I was laughing too hard to get out myself.
Next post: Santa Elena Canyon.