Thursday, February 20, 2014

Big Bend National Park 2014, Part 1

To celebrate Steve's birthday this year, we headed back to Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas.  We visited this park in 2009 and really can't get enough!  It's the perfect spot to go when the midwest mid-winter doldrums start to seep in and take root.

After flying into El Paso we drove to Marfa to camp for the night, on the way to the park.  There's an artsy pulse about this town and we enjoyed our stay at Tumble In and our baked items from Future Shark.  We woke up to a frosty morning, but brilliant sunshine!

Steve made us take the requisite sign picture to commemorate our trip and, of course, he was right.

After determining our route, securing a backcountry permit, caching water for the latter half of our hike in a bear box, and packing our gear we were ready to head into the backcountry in the late afternoon.

The 4.5 miles to our campspot in Boot Canyon was a grueling uphill climb on the Pinnacles Trail with heavy water weight.  Big Bend is a dry park and especially so this year. Fire danger is high with no campfires allowed. When the land gets this dry, many springs run dry as well so you have to carry what you need. Filtering from the few water holes takes that water from wildlife so we tried to minimize our need to do that.  You can see from my face, the climb, plus the higher elevation, plus the water weight was kicking my butt a bit.

We enjoyed some renewed energy upon finding the remnants of a milkweed plant!

The difficult hike in proved so worth it the next morning with the balmy temperatures allowing for a leisurely breakfast and...

incredibly stunning views.

We chose to complete the Outer Mountain Loop via the Pinnacles Trail to Boot Springs to Juniper Canyon to Dodson to Blue Creek and back via the Colima Trail so we could summit Emory Peak. The loop totaled a little over 40 miles, which we did in 3 nights and 4 days with day 1 being short.

On the Dodson Trail, the views are expansive.  The easy hiking allowed us to hike in our Chacos and enjoy many cool nature sightings. We noticed this impaled grasshopper on an ocotillo. Shrikes are known to do this to kill their prey. We may have interrupted this bird's meal or maybe s/he was just waiting for the grasshopper to succumb for easy feeding.  Our camera didn't do so well on the macro photography on this trip (boo!), but you can still make out the fantastic coloration on this insect.

The early spring blooms attracted many butterflies including what looks to be a European skipper though the range maps don't show it this far yet.  The sulphurs and little yellows put on quite a show, but didn't land for more than 1 second at a time it seemed.

The warm sun and heavy packs made us tired so we took a rest in a dry wash.

The feel of the wildness in the vastness of the park gave us exactly what we came for.

The little lizards made us smile every time.

Our second night out we zone camped, which means you can camp anywhere as long as you are following standard Leave No Trace principles.  We found one of the best camp spots atop a ridge with stunning 365 degree views including this one into Mexico.

Part 2 will follow with the second half of our trip!  Look at that big, beautiful, blue sky...

Part 2


  1. Beautiful! The scenery is spectacular, and it seems you had the place to yourself...Big Bend is on my list...I think you picked the perfect time of year to go. And Happy Birthday to Steve

    1. Thanks lady! We hope you are well and warm! :)

  2. I went to Big Bend for spring break in 2000. I haven't been able to go back since, but it was awesome! If you ever want to detour your next trip that way, hit up Guadalupe Mountains NP. That is an awesome hike.

    1. Hey Misti! We so love the Guadalupe Mountains too! We worked at Carlsbad Caverns for a while and spent most of our free time hiking in those mountains. Hope you are still getting out and exploring lots! :)


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