January 30, 2011

Big Bend National Park

Kris planned this trip to test his endurance after his double-bypass surgery.  Big Bend National Park is one of the least visited National Parks, not because it has little to offer but because it is so remote.  It was a 14-hour drive each way (broke journey both ways with an overnite in San Antonio) between Houston and Big Bend.   Once we got off I-10, it was slow going on curvy roads amidst starkly beautiful scenery.

We stayed at Chisos Lodge inside the park.  The rooms were basic but the location stunning.  We reveled in this view on the scenic trail and at dinner every evening.  The nights and mornings were terribly cold but the mid-day temperatures were almost intolerably hot. 

We spent two full days in the park.  Each day, Kris planned a short hike and a more challenging hike.  The first day, we hiked "Window View" from the campground - 4.4 miles round-trip with a 500-foot elevation gain.

 I was so busy taking pictures, I almost tripped over this javelina.
In the afternoon, we hiked Boquillas Canyon - 1.4 miles RT with 40 foot elevation gain.  The Rio Grande separates Big Bend from Mexico and the water was so shallow you could easily cross over.  However, there were numerous warning signs citing $5,000 fines should you seriously think about doing so.  Along the trail were wire animals, walking sticks and other items for sale with prices - honor system for leaving the cash.  We were serenaded by a musician across the river who pointed out a can on our side where we could leave a tip if we were so inclined. 

The next morning we started our day with a short hike through Santa Elena Canyon

On our return, we visited Castolon to learn a bit about the military and ranching history in this area.  Kris was feeling strong and eager to embark on our most difficult hike, Lost Mine Trail.  At 4.8 miles round-trip with an 1100-foot gain and climbing temperatures, it was a struggle.   Although we took no pictures of the far-reaching vistas, we were extremely pleased with ourselves when we reached the summit.  Kris proved that his heart was now strong.  

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