Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Big Bend Ranch State Park February 2018

February 2018  Our trip to Big Bend continues...
One of our days at Big Bend we drove to Big Bend Ranch State Park.  It is  ~ 72 miles from Terlingua to the Sauceda Ranger Station in Big Bend Ranch State Park.
"Big Bend State Park is a 275,000-acre preserve managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Brewster and Presidio Counties. Much of The Park is high desert uplands and peaks that average over average over 4000 feet. The predominantly igneous rock tells the tale of violent volcanic activity between 15 and 30 million years ago."

 From Terlingua to the state park we drove west along Camino del Rio or River Road.  Again, the river is the Rio Grande and it is the border of Texas with Mexico.
 Our first adventure was the Ojito Adentro Trail.  It is just a short walk but an interesting area.  I really enjoyed the green of the cottonwood trees and the very blue sky.
 See the cottonwood trees off in the distance...
 We had to do some scrambling up and over huge boulders, finally it got to the point we just couldn't go any farther. And we never saw the main water feature here, Bofecillos Creek. 
 We did come to some wet areas and this is what we saw there!  A beautiful yellow monkeyflower! 

We made our way back to the car, then onto the next fun place.  Which was Cinco Tinajas Trail, where you will find several tinajas (Spanish for water-filled basins).  We followed the trail down to the lower tinajas first.  Mike climbed up into that canyon, I stayed put.
Leyva Creek is near here but we didn't go that far, or maybe we did and it was dry.  Since this was last year, it makes it a bit difficult to remember. 

Looking down into the canyon, we were just in.  I didn't want to get too close to the edge.

 We walked up out of the canyon and found more tinajas.  Then we saw some perfect Texas Bluebonnet! 

Back to the truck once again.  We drove the mile farther to the Sauceda Ranger Station then turned around and headed back to Tiny Terlingua. 

 Our final night at Tiny Terlingua.
The next morning we packed up and drove through Big Bend National Park.  We decided to check out the balanced rock, even though we have been here before.

Grapevine Hills Trail

Difficulty: Easy; Distance: 2.2 miles round trip
Begin 6 miles down Grapevine Hills improved dirt road at the parking area

This trail leads to a group of balanced rocks in the heart of the Grapevine Hills. Initially, the trail follows a gravel wash, then climbs steeply for the last quarter mile into the boulders. Grapevine Hills is an exposed laccolith, with many giant, rounded boulders that are tempting to climb, but watch for snakes.


We drove the four hours back to Midland, and had another day to play with the grandkids.  Then back to Michigan.   

Friday, February 22, 2019

Big Bend National Park February 2018

   2018 February     Our Trip to Big Bend National Park

Last year in mid February, Mike and I took a trip to Midland Texas, to see our son and his family.  We spent three days at their home then borrowed Andrew's truck and set out on our own to Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park.

 This is what we left in Michigan, that is an ice shanty on Sterns Bayou.  Cold and snowy.

Our stop over was in Dallas, Texas - I am always amazed at the amount of water in the Dallas area.  And no snow.  We flew on to Midland and visited with the grandkids for a few days.  It is definitely difficult to have such precious family living so far away.  At least we get to see them a few times each year.

It was just Mike and I for this trip to Big Bend so we rented a small place.  A unique place.  Tiny Terlingua in the town of Terlingua.

 That ladder is the way to the bed...

 The separate bath house is as big as the house, complete with a rain shower.
Tiny Terlingua was a great place for the two of us to stay, clean, comfy, and cozy!  Beautiful views from the "bedroom".

 Sunset from Tiny Terlingua
Morning from Tiny Terlingua

One of the many hikes we went on was Mule Ears Spring Trail.
Difficulty: Moderate; Distance: 3.8 miles round trip
Mule Ears Overlook parking area, mile 15, Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive
This hike leads through the foothills of the Chisos Mountains, skirts Trap Mountain, and crosses several arroyos. Near the spring is an old rock corral. The spring itself is overgrown with shrubs, but ferns and cattails also grow there.
Mule Ears from the start of the trail

Mule Ears getting closer, first you come to the spring.

  Mule Ears Spring - Yes that is the spring.

We reached the spring, we saw a bit of water, a tadpole, and some ferns, then we walked on.  I had read an article about this area and the author strongly recommended walking beyond the spring to Smoky Creek.  In the article it said about a mile past Mule Ears Spring you would encounter beautiful quartz rocks and crystals.  And that Smokey Creek is filled with black rocks.  Just up a hill from the creek is a spectacular view of Mule Ears.

We did see the ground sparkling from quartz, we saw the black rocks in the dry creek bed, and we got to see Mule Ears up close.  So our short 4 mile walk turned into a ~10  mile hike since we went a mile past Smokey Creek, then returned the same way we came.

We made it back to the truck and drove to Castolon Visitors Center for an ice cream treat. 
The photo below is of Mule Ears taken from the truck as we drove on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.  On the hike we were on the other side of Mule Ears. 

After having ice cream, we should have gone back and rested at Tiny Terlingua but, oh no, we decided to drive all the way to the Rio Grande Visitor center.  About 55 miles one way from Castolon, and the speed limit is 45 mph.  Such beautiful views on the way to Rio Grande Village.

Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
"Although short and easy, the trail is very scenic and has fantastic opportunities for wildlife viewing, especially birds. The first 100 yards is wheelchair accessible and crosses a boardwalk through a spring-fed wetland. Then the trail gradually climbs a limestone hill with panoramic vistas of the Rio Grande, and the Chisos and Del Carmen Mountains. This trail is great for sunsets."

Just eight days before we visited..."February 12 2018 A prescribed fire at the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail burned the non-native river cane that had been encroaching into the pond area, while leaving the boardwalk intact. The purpose of this burn was to help restore the ecosystem, and the park looks forward to watching plants, birds, and other native species return to this area. Thank you to all the crews who helped make this happen!"

Rio Grande River, border with Mexico

   Sierra del Carmen mountain range
   Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico
After the Village Nature walk, we drove northeast 4 miles to Boquillas Canyon Trail.  Unfortunately it was late in the day when we arrived, so it was a short and fast hike.  Then the 53 mile drive to Terlingua.
 Boquillas Canyon
What a day!  Lots of walking and driving.  The mountains are amazing, and so different from where we live.  It really is a great place to explore.
Big Bend National Park encompasses an area of 801,163 acres (1,251.8 sq. mi.)
Next time the rest of this trip, onto Big Bend Ranch State Park.