Tag Archives: Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park, TX


Road to Big Bend
WAY DOWN SOUTH,  turn at the little town of Marathon Texas, onto a road stretching towards Mexico.  Lined by  the barbed wire fences and branded gates of ranches, the black strip of asphalt has one intention: Big Bend.  The subtle contours of Texas Hill Country, dotted with yucca blooms and tangled mesquite, are deceptive.  Follow the road through the park entrance and the land transforms; slopes and ridgelines grow into breathtaking mountains and cliffs, the expanse of blue sky above enhancing their majesty.

Chisos Mountains.  Big Bend, TX.
Chisos Mountains. Big Bend, TX.
Ghost Mountain, Old Faithful in the foreground.  Big Bend, TX.
Ghost Mountain, Big Bend National Park.   Old Faithful Subaru in the foreground.
Sierra de Santa Elena.  Big Bend, TX.
Sierra de Santa Elena spanning eastwards along the Rio Grande.

The desert is a place of such wonder.  Appearing unlivable, yet supporting an abundance of life that is so unique and perfected.  Not only existing but thriving, parched and scorched and wind-weathered.
We spent four nights in this spectacular place and left with scraped-up legs, sun-reddened faces and the regret of leaving so soon.

Weatehered wood, Chisos Mountains.
Weathered wood along the trail to Casa Grande, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park.
Rio Grande floodplain, cracked and dry.  Big Bend, TX.
Rio Grande floodplain, cracked and dry.

Over a hundred million years ago it was all under water, a sea.  Two different seas, actually, that came and went, leaving layers of limestone and fossils. These layers were exposed by the same tectonic disruptions that formed my beloved Rockies.  The Mariscol Mountains in the south of Big Bend are the southernmost extension of the Rocky Mountain Range.

Wall of layered limestone.  Big Bend, TX.
Marine history revealed in a wall of layered limestone along the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park.

The park’s high and low points have a difference of nearly 6,000 feet, reaching 7,825 ft. at the summit of Emory Peak, and dropping to 1,850 ft. at the Rio Grande Village.  The Chisos Mountains- rugged, reddish lava towers- are grouped in the park’s center.  Emory Peak stands the tallest of these formations, severe slopes uniting at a jagged summit.  Casa Grande, at 7,325 feet, acts as a formidable sentry, casting her shadow across the winding road leading to the Chisos Basin.

Casa Grande, Chisos Mountains.
Casa Grande in the sun.
View of Chisos Basin from summit of Emory Peak.  Big Bend, TX.
Summit of Emory Peak, looking northwards to Chisos Basin. Big Bend National Park.

Big Bend’s disparate elevation and dynamic geological history fosters a variety of ecosystems and tremendous diversity amongst the resident flora and fauna.  The park is a sanctuary for thousands of species, many of which are endemic and/or endangered.  Plants range from Juniper and Oak trees to more than sixty species of cacti, from delicate wildflowers to viciously-spiked-and-barbed everything else.  The animals include some 450 species of birds, of which we saw only a handful.  Though cougars, bears and other creatures inhabit the park, we saw only jackrabbits, sprinting and springing across the gravely hills, and heard the wailings of coyotes in the early morning hours.

FLORA

FAUNA

We find beauty within every inch of the natural landscape.  Patterns, spiraled, spotted, layered; textures, smooth, curved, rugged. They catch the eye in a way modern-day clean-cuts and white-washings cannot; they captivate the mind erasing the droning, buzzing, beeping world of walls in which we eat, sleep and work.

In nature, we awaken and play.

WHERE WE WALKED

The furious calm of the wild, so many sprouting, growing, blooming, dying, decaying things.  Effortless transitions between states of being, occurring and intermingling.  In every death there is life.

This entry is in memory of my late Aunt Deb.  A woman unafraid to be smart, to be beautiful, to stand tall.

I wish you peace.

Meeting at Mt. Hood.  Darrell and Deb brought in the resupply.  A beautiful day together.
Meeting at Mt. Hood, September 12, 2013. Darrell and Deb brought in the resupply. A beautiful day together.

Thanks to the National Park Service Webpage for helping me with those finer details.  

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A month on the road

We made it!  From Montana to the Gulf of Mexico, how sweet it is!  Here is a jumbled look at the last few weeks as we’ve roamed the giant state of Texas.  We’ve been so lucky to see all these beautiful things, even more so to visit so many good friends along the way.  It seems that everywhere we’ve been, we are met with open arms.

Now, onward to Big Bend National Park!  Yeeehaw!