My wife and I drove from Houston to Terlingua on 12/17/11 and stayed the night in the back motel section of the Chisos Mining Company (basic, inexpensive room). We had a good dinner at the Starlight which we were looking forward to since we had missed one last New Year’s day when we couldn’t get in because there was a private wedding party. Had breakfast at the Ghost Town Café, and then headed to Big Bend Ranch the morning of 12/18/11. Saw a nice herd of about 15 javelinas along Rt. 170.
Javelinas along Rt. 170
We filled up the gas tank in Presidio and then checked in at Sauceda for two nights at the Los Ojitos campsite. We had wanted to camp at La Mota 2 campsite, but there was a “hunt” going and the northern part of the park was off limits. We were also disappointed to learn that we couldn’t have a campfire because of the county wide burn ban. We usually like to camp for a few nights at BBRSP because they allow campfires. Reportedly, the ban had been lifted in Brewster county, but was still in effect in Presidio county. This is the first we had stayed at Los Ojitos and it is a nice campsite, somewhat protected on the south side, but more exposed on the north, and not too far off the road into Sauceda. We hiked down to the small dammed lake which gets water from the spring, but it was dry because of the drought. The wind was blowing really strong that evening and night. We put up a tarp on the side of the shelter to block the wind.
Los Ojitos Campsite
It rained during the night, but everything was pretty much dry by morning. The next day, 12/19/11, we awoke to a cold, but sunny day. It warmed up quite nicely during the day, and we did about a 9 mile hike towards Oso Mountain, mostly hiking in creek beds. The wind blew hard all during the night and it was cold in the morning. The wind had stopped blowing which made folding the tent up much easier.
On 12/20/11 we drove to spend the night at the Chisos Lodge, and got a permit for two nights at Laguna Meadows 3. We left early the morning of 12/21/11 with very nice weather on the way up. A group of Mexican jays followed us part of the way, especially when we were having snacks. Laguna Meadows 3 is a nice, sheltered site, not too far off the main trail, with good views of Emory Peak.
Jays along trail
Laguna Meadows 3 Campsite
Had a good meal of Mountain House Chili Mac for two; just the right amount for two of us. We had decided to stay at LM3 for two nights so we could do a day hike up around the south rim. A couple of deer visited us at the campsite. A large pile of scat nearby told us bears had been in the area.
Deer at LM3
That afternoon we took a short hike down the Blue Creek trail for a ways. Had oatmeal for breakfast the morning of the 22nd, with the temperature in the mid 30’s when we were eating breakfast. We then hiked up the SW rim trail, and then over to the SE and NE rims.
Lichen the South Rim
It was a very nice, sunny day, with normal haze in the distance. We hiked out to Townsend Pt. for some great views.
View from Townsend Point
We kicked up a little spike buck and two does. On the way back, we ran into two rangers who were checking campsites. They asked about where we were camping and when we told them they advised that we had failed to put our permit on the campsite post. I had left it on my pack which I had covered with a garbage bag. We returned down the Boot Canyon trail, and over the Colima to Laguna Meadows, Overall, about an 8 mile hike. Returned to our LM3 campsite and had a good meal of Mountain House Lasagna.
We could hear the wind really blowing during the night of 12/22/11, but LM3 is very sheltered so it wasn’t bad. We awoke to another cold morning in the lower 30’s. We broke camp and headed back down the Laguna Meadows trail to the Basin. The longer we hiked the more low clouds moved in, moving really fast. Some were coming down from the South Rim while others were rolling down from Panther Pass. By the time we got down to the Basin, we were almost fogged in. All that evening there was a fine mist/sleet/snow in the air.
End of trail
We had a good meal the night of 12/23/11 in the Chisos Lodge, staying in one of the Casa Grande rooms. We had planned to leave at 6:00 am for Houston on 12/24 /11 but awoke to find everything covered in an icy, snowy crust, and learned that the Basin Road had been closed because of slippery conditions, especially in the Panther Pass area.
We killed time, and then got in line at the closed gate until it finally opened up at about 11:30 am.
Waiting to leave Basin
The road was really not that bad; once we got out of the Basin the roads were clear.
We made it back to Houston a little later than planned Christmas eve.