Big Bend, Part 2

So we hitched up and moved to Marfa, TX yesterday afternoon–about 2.5 hour drive with the house in tow–and got settled into our new digs for the next few days. I’m awake bright and early despite staying up far too late chatting & playing hearts with our new neighbors, who I hope to introduce soon. (Teaser: They have a tiny house!) Meanwhile, I have a Big Bend two-parter to complete, so let’s get to it!

Sunday

As we were leaving Mark & Cora’s beautiful home in Big Bend Saturday evening, they mentioned that Mark would be delivering the sermon at their tiny Terlingua church the following morning. Being the gracious folks they are, they invited us to attend. So after a brief detour (we got lost), we joined them Sunday and after the service went to lunch at The Chili Pepper Cafe (http://chilipeppercafe.homestead.com). The enchiladas were yummy, the company was still fantastic, and a good time was had by all.

Mark and Cora

We bid our new friends farewell, and headed out refueled for an afternoon of hiking.

Top-Secret Trail

We’ll never tell how we managed to discover the whereabouts of this lovely little desert-turned-watery oasis at the foot of the Chisos Range, but let’s just say a little bearded birdie told us. We drove down a dirt road, hiked through a patch of desert, turned a corner and were hit head-on with a wall of green. Cactus and lizards were exchanged for lush green trees and blooming flowers. The reason for all of this life in the middle of the desert is the gorgeous waterfall that creates a rocky pool at the foot of the mountain range. If we owned a better camera, we’d be able to show you the neon orange and bright blue dragonflies that were flying all around us as we hiked down to the base of the falls. It was breathtaking.

 

 Santa Elena Canyon

Next stop was a short 1.7 mile hike along this mountain canyon between the US and Mexico. The Rio Grande serves as the border between our two countries throughout the Chihuahua and Coahuila regions, and 118 miles of that border is within Big Bend’s boundaries on the Texas side.

Due to all the rains lately, the Rio was up, requiring us to wade through nearly hip-deep water and ankle-deep mud to get to the trail’s start. But once we crossed the river–and washed the dirt off our feet–it was totally worth it: the views hiking through the towering rock walls in the evening light were stunning.

Monday

Grapevine Hills and Balanced Rock

Those of you that have traveled and hiked in Utah know that desert terrain & rock formations can combine forces and leave a person feeling like they’ve left our little planet. Well, Big Bend can give Utah a run for its other-worldy money on this trail.

We hiked it in the morning, and that was wise, as it got hot out on the rocks by 9:00. And the 7.7 miles of rocky roads to get to the trailhead were passable in our Ford Focus hatchback, but we’d definitely recommend a high-clearance vehicle if for nothing other than time-efficiency…it was a SLOW ride out.

The payoff at the end of the trail is Balanced Rock, which is undeniably neat, but less amazing than looking back over the jutting rock formations that run the entire course of the trail from the top of the hill you just climbed. I absolutely loved this short hike, and the best part? We had the entire trail to ourselves…

Lost Mine Trail

We finished Monday off with hiking this lovely Chisos Basin trail, but due to a lack of food, running out of water, and 4.6ish miles of switchbacks delivering the final blow to Wes’s already worn-out right knee, we took zero pictures and are okay with it. Wes was a trooper and didn’t make me pack him out piggyback style as punishment for choosing this hike, and for that alone I am grateful.

Leaving Big Bend was difficult, because there is so much to see in this Rhode Island-sized National Park, but it was time for us to hit the road again. We also want to show you the little ghost town of Terlingua, TX, but we’ll save that for next time.

Happy trails, and lots of love,

Laura

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