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Holy Week in a Holy Place

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #30 on: April 17, 2018, 11:30:55 PM »
I think your tooth is actually just a "tooth shaped" piece of bone.  Most teeth I have ever found have remains of enamel on them.  Even ones pretty deteriorated.  They also usually have a darker area that was the root part that was buried in the gums and jaw bone.  They also usually show lots of signs of wear and grinding. 

I'm inclined to agree. I've looked at photos of teeth of the various larger animals in the park, and this object looks like none of them.

Txlj illustrates some shark teeth fossils that could appear in Big Bend, and this item doesn't really look like those appears to suggest a possibility that it's a fossilized shark tooth. One could imagine this "tooth" being eroded by water and bleached by the sun to remove any enamel, darker areas and signs of grinding. But I still doubt it's a tooth.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 11:45:09 PM by jeffblaylock »
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

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splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #31 on: April 17, 2018, 11:36:39 PM »


Bluebonnets, some more than two feet tall, bloomed along the sandy floor from one end of Slickrock Canyon to the other.





Most of the canyon was still in the shade, except for the western wall, which was becoming increasingly brighter as the sun rose higher. The U-shaped canyon consists of several bends along its less than quarter mile length. The slickrock floor is molded into a series depressions and pockets that normally hold water. On this day, they held only sand and dust.





Naturally occurring whitewashing occurs on the canyon walls. One in particular made me imagine a giant pictograph marking the last time the White Walkers came through here (Always the artists.).

The quiet was punctuated by the lilting laughs of canyon wrens, apparently unconcerned about the lack of water in their home.

Toward the end of the canyon, the eastern wall descended rapidly toward the desert floor, letting the sun shine from wall to wall.



The canyon gives way to the desert in the form of a wide wash.



In rainy times, water flows down this wash and into the funnel of the canyon.



I headed back to a large rock in the shaded canyon that I dubbed the Millennium Falcon for a snack and a rest. The wrens continued singing to me. I spent a little over an hour there, split between exploring and resting on that rock.



Sunlight began to spread across the canyon floor, closing in on my perch. I packed up and began my return hike.



I imagined what that view would look like with a pair of dark pools instead of a carpet of reddish dust. On my way out, I checked out at the rock I dubbed the “Front Desk.” The attendant must’ve been on break. The “Intern’s Desk” was also unoccupied, possibly a seasonal position that hadn’t been filled.



This time, the hike in the unnamed wash headed downstream, making it much easier to stay on track, and I trekked knowing there was zero chance I might miss the junction with Oak Creek. Within about 50 minutes, I reached the big wash, and another small cairn reinforced the need for a left turn.



The last 2.6 miles is hiked upstream, creating the possibility of wandering into a tributary, so one needs to pay attention and try to remain in the main channel. The Chisos Mountains remain in view for nearly all the return hike. Every once in a while, Teapot Rock appeared between the brush.



The sun was beating down now, so I pulled out my umbrella and created my own shade. I could periodically see the glint of the sun off of vehicles on the park road. About an hour and 45 minutes after I left Slickrock Canyon, the bridge swung into view. I climbed out of the wash by roughly the path I had scampered down and arrived at my vehicle nine miles, five hours and 45 minutes after leaving it.

Rio Bravo was closed for the afternoon when I reached it shortly after 2 p.m., so I went on to DB’s Rustic Iron, a barbeque joint that was new to me (It opened in 2016.). Don’s brisket sandwich was exactly what I needed, served under a covered porch, where Pandora was tuned to Texas county standards. An injured paisano circled my feet, eventually ending up on a small rock wall nearby.



After a shower at the motor lodge, I headed back into the park. I stopped to wander around an ocotillo forest that had a great view of the Chisos Mountains.



I drove back to my Basin campsite. Pulling out a map, I considered several options for my last full day (Saturday) in the park. I sat under the campsite’s tree and watched the shadows and colors change as the sun slid slowly westward. My thought process was interrupted by the coming sunset.

I drove up toward Pinnacle Pass, parking just short of the Lost Mine Trail. I carefully walked down to a hairpin curve in the road. There, a professional photographer and I played tag with various vantage points before he opted to go farther down. I would be joined by other amateur photographers, and we spread ourselves out without conflict.

Casa Grande looked especially resplendent during the “golden hour.”


From my vantage point, the sun set straight down the middle of the Window.







I headed over Panther Pass to call Goldilocks – no bear this time – and watched bright Venus sink to the horizon beside Pulliam Bluff. This time, I was outside the car, leaning against the exhibit wall. A nearly full moon rose over the mountains. After hanging up, I lingered for a while, listening to the sounds of the desert nightlife and pondering my last day.

To be continued.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Txlj

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #32 on: April 17, 2018, 11:38:45 PM »
The sharks teeth were meant as a comparison to known teeth found in the area of the park. I believe as Hang10er stated, its bone. The shark teeth I posted were to show that after an unknown number of years in the sun they still show enamel and color. I think the last sharks in the park were about 70 million years ago ? I apologize for any confusion I might have caused.

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #33 on: April 17, 2018, 11:43:30 PM »
The sharks teeth were meant as a comparison to known teeth found in the area of the park. I believe as Hang10er stated, its bone. The shark teeth I posted were to show that after an unknown number of years in the sun they still show enamel and color. I think the last sharks in the park were about 70 million years ago ? I apologize for any confusion I might have caused.

No apology needed and no confusion caused. I still think it's not a tooth, but if I squint real hard and use my imagination ....

I've also edited my prior post to clear up any possible confusion.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Txlj

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #34 on: April 18, 2018, 04:50:48 AM »
Also Jeff, wonderful pictures and excellent story. You seem to capture the beauty way better than I can.

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Offline congahead

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2018, 04:58:12 AM »
This is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to do it. You blend the words and images perfectly. So far I have two main takeaways:

1. I really need to do Slickrock Canyon.
2. Trip reports for day hikes, if done as well as yours, are every bit as worthy of posting on BBC as those for overnighters.  I actually do more day hikes than backpacking trips and need to consider doing reports on those. 

Reading others’ trip reports here is the next best thing to actually being in the park!
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Offline mule ears

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2018, 06:26:46 AM »
This is fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to do it. You blend the words and images perfectly. So far I have two main takeaways:

1. I really need to do Slickrock Canyon.
2. Trip reports for day hikes, if done as well as yours, are every bit as worthy of posting on BBC as those for overnighters.  I actually do more day hikes than backpacking trips and need to consider doing reports on those. 

Reading others’ trip reports here is the next best thing to actually being in the park!

Many times it is the day hike trip reports that inspire my routes for longer backpacking trips, someone describes a place I haven't considered and I try and walk past it if possible.  Slickrock is just such a place and it is included in my next long walk.  Thanks Jeff.
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Offline Buck

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #37 on: April 18, 2018, 10:35:12 AM »
Very nice report, Jeff - photos of lots of old friends in that bunch  :eusa_clap:
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Offline DesertRatShorty

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #38 on: April 18, 2018, 02:17:13 PM »
I'm also surprised there was no water in Slickrock Canyon. But those pools do get a lot more sun that most tinajas, plus the wildlife drinking it up. Anyway this is a useful data point on how quickly water can dry up in the desert.

Great report and photos, looking forward to the final installments.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2018, 03:38:02 PM by DesertRatShorty »
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   This land was made for you and me

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Offline jeffblaylock

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #39 on: April 18, 2018, 11:56:39 PM »


It had been an exceptionally clear night, the type that would have been a great night to watch the stars except for the nearly full moon. Despite the advancing moon, I’d been able to enjoy the dance of Mars and Saturn in the early morning sky, including on this day, when they were barely a degree apart. Bright Jupiter blazed in the south, but the Milky Way was washed out by the moonlight.

As I got myself together this Saturday morning, the moon was sinking toward the Window. The sun rose as I drove down the Basin Road, painting the sheer cliffs of Pulliam Bluff a brilliant orange.



I had settled on Dog Canyon for my morning destination. It was going to be a hot, sunny day, so a fairly quick trek across the desert seemed to be the best option. I reached the trailhead a little after 9 a.m.

The Dog Canyon trail begins as a cairned route across a sparsely vegetated flat, and It remains fairly flat all the way to the canyon. The creosote bushes were blooming bright yellow in the morning sun.



A jackrabbit scampered ahead of me. He wasn’t interested in posing for a photo. All I got was a shot of this back and ears.



The trail tracks almost due east for around 1.5 miles until it reaches Nine Point Draw, which flows through Dog Canyon. At that point, a metal sign indicates Dog Canyon is to the left, and Devils Den is to the right. I’ve been to Devil’s Den once before, but, for reasons I no longer recall, I did not hike it all the way to the overlook into Dagger Flat. Earlier this week, the daggers were blooming. My desire to check this box overwhelmed my common sense, and I turned right, heading downstream toward Devil’s Den.

In my head, these two canyons were much closer together than they actually are, and I had no recollection of this part of the hike. Nine Point Draw runs southwest from the trail junction. A series of cairns marks the exit into an unnamed wash, which goes all the way to Devils Den. This wash seems to go on forever as it loops around a series of bluffs and hills.

The longer I walked, my recollection of my last trip to Devils Den started seeping into my mind. I’d reached it via a cross-country route from the Nine Point Draw campsite. I eventually found a trail that followed the southern rim of the zig-zagging canyon, which I followed as far as I followed it, then returned by the same route. So I hadn’t come this way.

Bootprints appeared in all the sandy areas, and I paid more attention to them than the scattered cairns I found along the wash. Every cairn was tiny, like the one in this photo of a particularly rocky area within the wash.



The wash turned nearly eastward, and the walls began to rise. Larger boulders appeared more frequently. The bootprints continued ever forward. At some point, the trail must leave the wash.



All of the sudden, a giant, fractured slab of rock ran across the width of the wash. There was no obvious route up its tiers, each of which must be an interesting waterfall under the right conditions. I climbed, clambered and huffed my way up the first series, at which point I saw a deep fissure cutting across the rock. It was the water course. Erosion had cut a deep, sharp-turning channel through this solid rock.
A little farther up, a really cool tinaja appeared. It was at the bottom of a chute, where water passed under an arch and into the waterslide I’d been traversing.



A little more climbing brought me to the top lip of the slab. Just as suddenly as the pouroff appeared, the wash once again opened up, and Devils Den came into view.



I followed the bootprints further upstream, but I kept thinking to myself, at some point the trail is going to leave this wash. While the wash was fairly open, it was littered with boulders the size of desks and cars. Walking turned into scrambling and hopping. My pace slowed. Yet the bootprints went on with no sign of a cairn marking an exit.



As the wash approached a bend, the canyon wall slowly grew higher and steeper. The boulders got bigger and more jumbled, with deep gaps forming between them. This can’t be right, I thought. Surely the trail wouldn’t take hikers through this rubble.

I scrambled up a particularly steep house-sized boulder only to discover I had nowhere else to go. Sure, I could have climbed down, into a void between it and the next one, and continued onward, for at least another 40 feet, but I stopped. It was almost 11 a.m. I considered turning back, because I did not want to continue across this boulder field alone.

At that moment, my eyes drifted toward the canyon wall above me. I saw a cairn clinging perilously to a rock about 30 vertical feet up. Those bootprints had led me astray. The trail had been above me for some time.

To be continued.
Jeff Blaylock
Austin, Texas

"We'll be back, someday soon. We will return, someday, and when we do the gritty
splendor and the complicated grandeur of Big Bend will still be here. Waiting for us."--Ed Abbey

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #40 on: April 19, 2018, 03:43:08 AM »



At that moment, my eyes drifted toward the canyon wall above me. I saw a cairn clinging perilously to a rock about 30 vertical feet up. Those bootprints had led me astray. The trail had been above me for some time.

To be continued.





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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #41 on: April 19, 2018, 09:58:55 AM »



At that moment, my eyes drifted toward the canyon wall above me. I saw a cairn clinging perilously to a rock about 30 vertical feet up. Those bootprints had led me astray. The trail had been above me for some time.

To be continued.




Jeff, that sort of thing happens to me all the time now that I've returned to the lowlands of the park after a decade's hiatus. I keep thinking I know where I'm going because I've been here before, and....nope....my memory is often not my friend. Every path is just slightly longer and more complicated than I remember it.   :icon_eek:
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Offline Buck

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #42 on: April 19, 2018, 10:25:38 AM »
Jeff, I hiked this far up the DD in '94 or '95.  I seem to remember seeing a good number of fossils embedded in the rocks near this spot... yep, a quick scan of photos from that trip turned these up:

   

Interesting to note that the 'toe' that had been sticking out near the top of the swirl has broken off and is resting at its bottom these 24 years later.
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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #43 on: April 19, 2018, 10:43:39 AM »


Interesting to note that the 'toe' that had been sticking out near the top of the swirl has broken off and is resting at its bottom these 24 years later.

I'll be.  That is an interesting observation.

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Offline mule ears

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Re: Holy Week in a Holy Place
« Reply #44 on: April 19, 2018, 10:58:16 AM »
Jeff, I hiked this far up the DD in '94 or '95.  I seem to remember seeing a good number of fossils embedded in the rocks near this spot... yep, a quick scan of photos from that trip turned these up:

   

Interesting to note that the 'toe' that had been sticking out near the top of the swirl has broken off and is resting at its bottom these 24 years later.

We it must have been recent because it was there in Feb. 2014

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