Took it easy going in. Stayed with BIL in San Antonio Fri and Sat nights. (Excellent Chicken with Poblano sauce at El Mirador.) Drove 90 and stayed at the Outback Oasis in Sanderson Sunday night. (Good CFS at Dairy King.) Headed into Big Bend early Monday morning.
Got to Persimmon Pass by 10 and headed into the desert just past Mile Marker 17. Followed creek bed southeast about 1 mile. Lots of critter tracks but only recognized the mountain lion track. Spent a couple of hours exploring. Then we headed to Dagger Flats auto tour. Interesting landscape and desert life. Had first (and only) tire problem at turnaround. Looked like a nail had been in it and the rocks knocked it out. Easily fixed with plug. Total tour took about 2 hours. The suburban handled the rough road fine.
Checked in at the Basin at 4. Room 213 facing east, single story building. Deer were already present and were not at all bothered by any people. Had the Monday night Prime Rib special at the Lodge. We finished up just in time to catch sunset through the Window. Hiked a short distance down the Window view trail to catch it.
Tuesday morning up by 8. Headed to Dog Canyon. On trail by 10. Still pretty chilly but the day warmed up quickly. Glad to have hooded jacket once we were in the canyon. Kite flying would have been easy! Halfway to the canyon we realized it was New Years Day! Great way to start the new year! Easy hike across the desert flats. Lots of ringtail tracks and javelina with one mountain lion track in the soft sand just as the flats headed into the arroyo. Canyon was pretty. Cave at far end of it was an interesting find. Huge “litter box” at the base of it had several old and some relatively fresh scat in it. Probably wolf and but not sure. Met 4 people hiking in as we were hiking out. No water but lots of cameras. Glad it wasn’t in the summer. Total time on this trail was about 5 hours but we took our time to explore. Driving back towards Panther Junction we pulled off road near Mile Marker 7 to explore the HooDoos of Tornilla Flats. Extremely interesting and very fragile terrain! Thought we had it all to ourselves but, out of over 800,000 acres, someone parked right next to us! It seemed someone was following us the whole time! Next stop was DugOut Wells. Short but interesting nature hike. Headed towards RioGrandVillage for sunset. Stopped at pullout near Mile Marker 9 to watch the sunset. Wind picked up quite a bit as the sun went down. Guessed wind chill was around 0 degrees. Very cold night. Wind blew door open around 3am! You backcountry campers are tougher than I am!
Wednesday morning headed to Grapevine Hills. Another rough rode but again suburban handled it with minimum jarring effects. Gorgeous, easy hike. Good bouldering opportunities. Great views! Two others were on the trail right after us but we stayed and “played” awhile. Followed the wash back for a change of pace. Came out just past the parking area onto the road. Sign pointing which way to the cars. Evidently a lot follow that wash. Time on this hike was a bit over 4 hours but remember; we explored some. Drove on to Burro Mesa Pour-off hike. Very easy and extremely worthwhile hike. Really puts things into perspective. DO NOT attempt this hike in bad weather. Saw a tarantula sunning in the parking lot. Drove on down to Tuff Canyon overlook but will do it another day. Checked out the Sotol Vista overlook for the view. WOW! Will definitely be there for a sunset before we leave Big Bend. Stopped at the Homer Wilson overlook. Would make for an interesting hike but decided it would wait for another trip. Caught glimpses of the sunset as we drove back to the Basin. Had dinner in the Lodge. Expensive but good.
Thursday morning found us heading into Terlingua for ice and gas. Decided to check out a portion of the Oak Creek Springs hike. The road heading in was very narrow but luckily did not meet any cars heading in or out. Headed up the Cattail Falls part but did not have info on length and time needed for the hike so backtracked to the Lower Window trail instead. Creek was a nice quiet spot until Dad and 2 kids showed up. Guess you can’t have it all to yourselves! Hiked up to see what we could see of the Window knowing we were not going to go all the way. Fairly rough hike (for two out of shape people)with a lot of ups on a narrow rocky trail. I would not recommend shorts due to pricklies everywhere. Saw a total of 6 people in this area. Total time spent here was about 3 hours. Headed back to Tuff Canyon for the afternoon. Easy hike into the canyon. Was very disappointed to see that someone had knocked down the giant beehive. Hope the bees got revenge on whoever did it. Every color of rock imaginable can be found on this hike. Leave for others to enjoy, though! Spent about a couple of hours exploring. Headed to Castolon Historic District for a pit stop before catching the sunset at Sotol Vista. Again, WOW! Back to the Basin for a dinner of beef stew and homemade cookies from home. Saw a fox and a small band of javelina on drive to Basin.
Slept in Friday morning but woke up to find a note that mom had fallen and probably broken her hip. Nothing I can do about it so headed out to hike the Basin Loop. Got on trail around 10:30. Nice views but nothing spectacular. Saw two young ladies coming down from backcountry and one young man heading up. Go for it! I envy you all! Back to room by 11:30 for a sandwich lunch then headed to Santa Elena and Terlingus Creek to see if we could find the tin can hubbie left there some 30 years ago. Due to flooding and landscape changes, he couldn’t find the spot. Hiked into Santa Elena to end of concrete trail before heading out Old Maverick Road. One van ahead of us that never went over 5 MPH let us pass after about a mile. Several vehicles heading to Santa Elena driving a lot faster that I felt was safe on that washboard of a road! Stopped at Luna’s Jacal to explore for a bit. Can’t imagine living there! We had driven Old Maverick once before but neither of us remembered the “crater” near the west end. Very interesting to see. Wished a geologist had been with us to explain what we were looking at. Went into Terlingua to have dinner at La Kiva. Excellent brisket fresh off the pit. Friendly folk but we didn’t stay long. Left before live music started. Probably missed a good show!
Saturday morning up at 6 am to pack and hit the breakfast buffet in the Lodge. Knew it would have to last us a good portion of the day because we were heading to the house. After 13 hours of steady getting it, stopping only for pit stops and a quick Mickey D burger in Baytown, we made it home.
Total mileage to and from Big Bend - right at 1400 miles
Total mileage inside Big Bend - 427 miles
Total trail mileage - about 20 miles
I’m already planning another trip out there.
Pictures are as follows: