Category Archives: Texas

Big Bend National Park November 2015

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Got back to Big Bend National Park over Thanksgiving 2015.  No mountain lion sightings but we did see some bears.

I did my favorite hike in a new order: Blue Creek Canyon up to South Rim and then down Pinnacles. The hoodoos in Blue Creek Canyon were gorgeous in the morning sun and the grasses on Pinnacles trail were golden in the afternoon sun.

We got to the hot springs during the day and found the short 1 mile hike up  and around the bluff very lovely.

We had the most beautiful weather 70s and 40s and a few awesome cloud viewings.

And I finally got to walk into Santa Elena’s Canyon, just spectacular.

More photos

Past Big Bend Trips

West Texas Art

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While traveling in West Texas in January, I came across lots of great public/street art.  I like street art and reuse art and look for it whenever I travel.

The largest set is a trail of art called “One Man’s Junk Art Trail” and is outside Alpine, Texas.   Read more about the artist, Harry Weekley Jr,  in this Big Bend Galleries & Artists article.

 

Big Bend Ranch State Park

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Big Bend Ranch State Park– the Other Side of Nowhere!

 

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While many people are familiar with Big Bend National Park, fewer people are familiar with the Texas State Park that is located near the National Park.  Big Bend Ranch State Park is about half the size of the National park and is also about the same size as all the Texas State Parks put together.  It takes some patience and time to visit this park as the ranger station and most of the camping and lodging facilities are located 27 miles of rugged, dirt road from the main highway (FM 170) and this is after the 5 hours it takes to get to the entrance if you are driving from Marathon, Texas via the scenic route.

I visited the park with 7 other hikers in January 2015. Due to the time of year, we stayed at the Hacienda House and I would recommend it and the bunk house for small or large groups. And the campgrounds are amazing and very secluded if you like to camp.  We had a guided tour by one of the rangers that really helped me understand more about the geology, plant life and history of the area.  I highly recommend this if you have the time. It is a great park for novice to experienced hikers and bicyclists; however, select the proper vehicle to take there as many of the trail heads require a 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle to access. It is also a great place to check out the stars and the park is working towards it’s International Dark Sky certification.

Trails hiked: Closed Canyon, Fresno Canyon, Puerta Chilicote,  Cinco Tinajas, and Ojito Adentro.

 

Big Bend National Park

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Big Bend National Park is one of my favorite places in Texas. I have been fortunate enough to visit several times during Thanksgiving on trips with the Austin Sierra Club.  Big Bend National Park covers 801,163 acres and is located on Texas- Mexico Boarder at the “bend” in the Rio Grande.  It is a special park as it has a large river (Rio Grande),  a desert (Chihuahuan Desert) , and mountains (Chisos Mountains).  Learn more about the Big Bend National Park on the webiste or read the latest Paisano Newsletter

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Some words to know to understand the naming of things there:

Falls vs Pour Off= a pour off is a dry waterfall. A place in a wash or canyon where water, if it were flowing, would “pour over” a ledge to form a waterfall.  A waterfall always has water flowing.

Tinja=is Spanish for “large earthen jar” and refers to a basin-shaped water hole, usually carved into bedrock by natural erosin.

Sierra= means mountain chain in Spanish

Javanlina=  Peccaries, which are native to the Americas, resemble pigs but are not.  While they have poor eye sight, they have an amazing sense of smell and will rip apart a tent to get to anything that they can smell.  (Never leave food in your tent while in Texas unless in a bear canister.) They travel in herds and they seem to travel around more at dusk and at night.  Learn more.

Astrobleme: remains of an ancient meteorite-impact structure on the Earth’s surface, generally in the form of a circular scar of crushed and deformed bedrock. Learn  More

 

Davis Mountains, Texas

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In July of 2014, I visited the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

The Davis Mountain range forms a unique “sky island” surrounded by the lowland Chihuahuan desert.  Due to the higher altitude, the summer is a perfect time to visit. The temperatures were between 50F and 85F.

We stayed at the National Conservancy Preserve, which is around 33,075-acres. There are many great hikes of varying difficulty in the park. Baldy Peak atop Mount Livermore is at 8,382 feet, and is the fourth highest peak in Texas. We had a beautiful day to hike to the summit and found a “loveliness of ladybugs”.

The birders in the group had lots of great birds to see; there were several hummingbird feeders near our tents so we would sit and watch them in the evening.

We also stopped by the McDonald Observatory to check out a few of the telescopes. I was able to “drive” the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), which has air-cushions that inflate when the telescope needs to move. Really cool!

I was also able to visit the Balmorhea State Park.  It is a cold spring pool. The pool is up to 25 feet deep, covers 1.75 acres, and holds 3.5 million gallons of water. The water temperature stays at 72 to 76 degrees year-round.  It was perfect for the hot summer days.

Part of our trip was a service project. We removed goat wire-barbed wire fencing one morning. Tough work.

Namaste and Happy Trails!

Some helpful links.

Independence Creek Preserve, Texas

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Independence Creek Preserve, where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Edwards Plateau and the Tamauplipan Thornscrub.  The Nature Conservancy purchased the first parts of Independence Creek Preserve in 1991 and made the larger purchase of 19,740 acres in 2000 and 2001.   More info about the preserve: Texas Pecos Trail

Independence Creek contributes 27 million gallons of freshwater a day to the Pecos River, making it the most important freshwater tributaries of the lower Pecos River. The Nature Conservancy is doing an amazing job restoring the land.  Most recently the staff onsite has started to establish a wetlands area.

This area was  occupied  by the archaic people  and we saw rock art and other artifacts. The rock art is estimated to be 3,000 to 5,000 years old.