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4th of July in the Bend!

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Offline Cookie

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4th of July in the Bend!
« on: July 11, 2016, 11:28:05 AM »
Almost done getting the trip report together. Here is a little teaser as I finish up......

DSC02873 by Cookie, on Flickr
 
and my favorite video.....



~Cookie

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Offline Reece

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2016, 01:56:03 PM »
Very nice, well done Cookie!


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Offline Imre

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2016, 03:29:21 PM »
I have seen a lot of those giant man-eating hummingbirds around Boot Spring but I have never seen one take a bath. Thanks for sharing.
-Imre
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Offline mule ears

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2016, 03:52:37 PM »
Great capture Cookie!  I can barely wait to see the rest of the trip.
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Offline badknees

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2016, 05:29:58 PM »
Nice video. Blue throated hummer. Birds like baths.
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Offline Cookie

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2016, 07:14:59 PM »
Thanks guys! Report is written and ready to post. Not sure how I got so wordy on a 5 day trip. If nothing else I hope you enjoy the pictures....

Just got back from a quick trip to Big Bend and the Davis Mountains. After seeing all the rain hitting the Chisos we decided to pull the trigger and head to the desert in July! We had a few “nevers” with Big Bend. Never go at Thanksgiving, never go at Spring break, and never go in the summer. If you know how to do it, all three can be great times in the park. I texted my niece, who made our New Year’s Elephant Tusk trip. She made some calls to get shifts covered and she was in. She has been bitten hard by the backpacking bug, and loves Big Bend like we do. This would be her 3rd backpacking trip with us. At 19 and 6’1’’ she earned the nickname “BigHeadLongLegs”(BHLL) on our last trip. All said in jest and with love. We got our gear together and headed west.
Our plan was simple: One night car camping in the desert, then two nights on the rim. After that we would head to the Davis Mountains for two nights and swim at Bahlmorhea State Park. The trip out went by quick. Our plan was to get out to the park in late afternoon, get permits and head to the basin for the last heat of the afternoon. Permits went smoothly. The ranger had a collection of arm tattoos and a nose ring. Not what we usually saw. She was quite happy I had done the “request” online and she was able to find it in their system. I told her it was really hard to find the link on the NPS web page. I ended up searching on this website to find a link posted in one of the threads. She said it was just a trial thing and it might not be around much longer. Before I could ask about Boot spring she offered up it was running out of the pipe, but just a trickle. And it would be better to save it for the bears. Another female ranger came up and after chatting briefly she mentioned she was a botanist. We were asking them about the fire near Elephant Tusk and if it had been started by illegals. They both seemed to recoil at the suggestion that there were illegals in the park. We told them about our last trip in the Quemadas and all the trash and fire pits we found near Elegant Spring. They assured us it was a lightning strike.  We also asked about some new plants we had seen in Lost Maple Canyon, Casa Grande and part of the rim. They looked like weeds to us because they seemed to be taking over large areas. She told us just because we had never seen them before or they seemed to be so prolific they probably weren’t weeds. Then she started lecturing us on trampling on all the plants in the aforementioned hikes since they weren’t on designated trails. I politely told her we were not doing anything illegal and had every right to hike those areas. She backed off a little and said she did some bushwhacking as well. We decided it was time to head to the Basin and cooler temperatures. We were coming in on July 4th and had noticed all the signs said the Basin campground was full. We had Paint Gap 1 for our night in the desert. As we drove by the campground it was not even half full. The Basin parking lot was almost empty as well. The store clerk said we should have been there Sunday, it was packed! Guess they hadn’t changed the sign yet. He also told us it rained pretty good the day before. We were stoked! Knowing we didn’t have to hump enough water for 4 people for 2 nights made things much better. After hanging out a bit we decided to head back to the desert and set up camp. We knew it would be hot, around 100 degrees. We had our own shade so camp wasn’t bad. We got everything set up and enjoyed the dry heat of the desert.

IMG_3663 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG_3661 by Cookie, on Flickr

What we had not counted on was how much heat would be radiating off the ground.

 All. Night. Long.

It was 90 when we went to bed and 70 when we woke up. When we packed up the sleeping pads in the morning, they were HOT underneath. Glad they were insulated or we would have been really cooking all night. It wasn’t bad as we packed up, but as soon as the sun peaked over the mountains, you could feel the heat building.

We were on the trail by 9:20 a.m. It was warm on the way up Pinnacles, but not unbearable. We met one group of 9 on their first backpacking trip. They were struggling and stopping every few minutes. They were packing all their water for 9 with a few kids in the group. We never saw them again and wondered if they made it.

IMG_3672 by Cookie, on Flickr

We made it to Boot Spring and enjoyed a leisure lunch by the cabin on the picnic table. We headed down to the pipe to find water flowing about .5 gallons/minute. We were filled up in no time.

IMG_3675 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG_3677 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02865 by Cookie, on Flickr

Everything seemed different, from the angles of the shadows, to the wildlife. Summer is truly a magical time in Big Bend. My favorite sightings were the many hummingbirds. As the water came over the big rocks near the pipe making a small waterfall, the hummingbirds were taking turns having a “shower” in the running water.

After chilling for almost two hours and enjoying the birds and the shade, we set off up Boot Canyon and headed up the Northeast Rim trail. As we made the final long run before you come up on the rim near NE1 we heard what we thought was a child yelling or crying. We stopped and listened. It started again. As we listened, it really sounded like a mountain lion making some noise. Very eerie echoing off the canyon walls. We pushed on to the South East rim and SE3. We noticed the new campsite signs the ranger had mentioned to us that all the Chisos sites now had. Not sure what was wrong with the old ones.

DSC02919 by Cookie, on Flickr

After setting up camp, we had a relaxing afternoon and evening on the rim. We watched an isolated storm come together just south of Mariscal mountain. We watched its slow march across the desert. Pouring rain out of the bottom in a single column and ushered on the left side by a beautiful rainbow. Lightning lit the clouds and occasionally struck the desert floor. It was far enough away that we could enjoy it from our perch on the sheer walls of the rim. My niece had never seen anything like it before and was really quite taken by the whole evening.

DSC02866 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02868 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02869 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02873 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02874 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02876 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02878 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02881 by Cookie, on Flickr

As dusk came the stars began to appear in the clear summer sky. As the darkness set in the Milky Way was bright across the sky. We were 1 day past the new moon which made for the best star gazing I’ve seen in Big Bend. We saw satellites and “shooters” as the night progressed.
It was 60 degrees at 8 am. Sweet! We were going to chill on the rim for the day. El Hombre and I decided to go back for some more water at Boot Spring and enjoy the Canyon. It is my favorite part of the Chisos, besides the rim. Hiker and BHLL opted to stay near the campsite, reading and enjoying the view. We hiked along the rim to the junction with the Boot Canyon trail. We met a nice couple from New Jersey who were on a major road trip. We chatted with them briefly, and we all headed down the canyon. They were day hiking the big loop taking in their first visit to the park. We parted ways after a little while. Our pace was a leisure one, and they were trying to get back to the car.We saw several black and yellow striped snakes in the pools going along Boot Canyon. They were really active and moving around. We had noticed LOTS of tad poles in the pools and thought maybe the snakes were eating the tadpoles.

DSC02884 by Cookie, on Flickr

We had lunch at the picnic table again, then headed down to the spring. We hung out for close to an hour watching the birds and a big fat lizard on the cabin.

DSC02885 by Cookie, on Flickr

 Knowing it was only going to be getting warmer we set off back up the North East trail again. We were hoping to hear the mountain lion again, but all was quiet. We did a side trip up Townsend peak. On the way to the top we saw a swarm of lady bugs on a yucca. We had seen one similar to this on the way to the top of Guadalupe Peak.

DSC02890 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02889 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02892 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02893 by Cookie, on Flickr

We made it back to camp around 3pm and spent the rest of the afternoon on the rim. We saw one hiker, and that was it for the rest of the day. We felt like we had the whole rim to ourselves. The afternoon was much cloudier and we could hear the thunder of a nearby storm. The clouds hung around so our second night of star gazing was cut short.

On both evenings we were entertained by the peregrine falcons. Several times they shot over the rim a few feet above our heads and dove down the side of the rim. They sounded like mini fighter jets and we kept waiting for a tiny sonic boom after they went by. They would also wrestle and tumble with each other in the air. Just beautiful. We also saw more buzzards than usual, and every time they would get too close to the rim the falcons would dive bomb them and drive them away! Better than anything on TV :dance:

DSC02902 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02909 by Cookie, on Flickr

DSC02923 by Cookie, on Flickr

BHLL enjoying the view
DSC02924 by Cookie, on Flickr

this little guy liked ElHombre's white shirt
DSC02933 by Cookie, on Flickr

The plan for the next day was to hike out, drive to Alpine and resupply, then set up camp at the Davis Mountains campground. If we made good time we were hoping to head to Bahlmorhea and swim for a few hours. This is Hikers favorite thing to do in West Texas. Yes, even more than backpacking and camping. I woke up around 6:30 and looked out of the tent. Hiker was already up and pulling gear out of her tent. We had never seen her so motivated. Usually we were prodding her to get up so we could go. We made great time back to the basin, 3 ½ hours! We were able to make it to the campground and get everything set up by 5pm. BHLL decided to stay at camp and read in the hammock while we headed to the pool. We made it to the pool in 35 minutes. After swimming for about an hour, and watching an approaching Thunderstorm, we decided it might be time to go. Just as we had pulled Hiker off the high dive a lightning strike hit very close and was immediately followed by HUGE clap of thunder. That pretty much cleared the pool for the rest of the evening.
We headed back to camp for dinner and a nice evening. We met a nice family we chatted with for quite a while, not realizing it was well after 9 by the time we started dinner. Hiker had gotten in the back of the truck to grab a soda and when she jumped out her flip flops slipped and she took a hard fall in the gravel. She gouged her knee really bad. After getting it cleaned up, we realized that spending the day at the pool all day was not going to happen with that kind of open wound. She was completely bummed out but understood. As we finished dinner it started to rain so we packed everything up and headed to bed. We had no idea what kind of storm was heading our way. As the interval between the lightning flashes and thunder got closer and closer, we knew this was just about on top of us. There were a strikes that happened at the same time, shaking the ground and lighting up everything. I’m not sure how long it lasted, maybe an hour, but it seemed like a lot longer. It was probably the worst storm we’ve been in while tent camping. The next day as we walked down to the bathrooms, we saw two trees that had been hit by lightning. They were 10 campsites from ours. They were in the site we had originally wanted to get but changed our mind at the last minute, and went with one more at the end of the road. Thank God!! I can’t imagine if we would have been camping under those trees when the lightning struck. What a crazy night!

IMG_3694 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG_3693 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG_3692 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG_3691 by Cookie, on Flickr

IMG_3690 by Cookie, on Flickr

the concrete was blown off this pad in a storm two weeks ago. I would avoid sites 77 & 78  :icon_eek:
IMG_3685 by Cookie, on Flickr

We went to Ft. Davis the next day and checked out all the old buildings. The hospital was the most interesting to me. It was worth a few hours of poking around. We were back at camp by midafternoon, had lunch and then just hung out and talked till bed time.
It was a wonderful 6 days with my niece and my family! We will definitely be heading back to the desert in the summer. No crowds and tons of wildlife. No better way to spend some time in the Bend.

~Cookie

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Offline dprather

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2016, 08:18:48 PM »
Thanks so much.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Offline alan in shreveport

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2016, 09:18:27 PM »
Thanks for the great post. Glad it cooled down for you in the mountains. The heat can be amazing - in an unpleasant way ! The hummingbird bath video is great. I've got bunches of hummers, and numerous bird baths (including some pretty small ones), but I've never seen one take a bath.

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Offline Imre

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2016, 09:54:56 PM »
The mountain lion you heard - might it have been the distress call of a bear cub?
For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong.
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Offline RichardM

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2016, 09:55:54 PM »
Awesome report. I'll bet most of us don't pick our campground campsites based upon likelihood of lightning strikes, Glad you dodged that bullet. I don't supposed you got any video of the falcons?

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Offline Geezer

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2016, 11:10:57 PM »
Really nice report and photos!

Geezer

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Offline Flash

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2016, 11:13:42 PM »
Thanks for the report!  I can't wait to get out there later in the week!    :great:

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Offline badknees

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2016, 12:25:35 AM »
"never go in the summer"  :)

I'm glad you've  made it to the summer side! There is a lot to be said for it. I try to go every summer.

....If you're lucky, you can sometimes get to see Cattail thundering.

Water is a lot lighter when you don't have to hump so much up the hill!

It's also a great time to spend multiple days in the Chisos, with no rush.....listen to the wind, watch the clouds and the peregrines...Catch a few rim sunrises and sunsets.
Not all those who wander are lost.
– J.R.R. Tolkien

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Offline mule ears

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2016, 06:11:12 AM »
Awesome stuff, I really need to get out there in the summer sometime soon. 

That first picture is calendar material for sure!  Thanks.   :high5:
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Offline Talusman

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Re: 4th of July in the Bend!
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2016, 07:16:10 AM »
As usual, your family and you have some of the coolest trips to the Bend. Great photos and report. I loved the hummingbird video and many great pictures off the rim. You should only have one "never" rule about Big Bend.

"Never say never!"

Thanks for the report.
"To Think is easy. To Act is difficult. To Act as one Thinks is the most difficult!"

 


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