Dateline: February 22, 2013
(Be warned - this is a long post. Better fill up your coffee cup before you start it. But I couldn't compress all the fun and interesting stuff into anything shorter).
Friday at Big Bend started out in pastel colors as the sun started its day. Today our hike was the Fresno Rim Trail which starts just past the area in which we hiked on Wednesday. (Louis is working his way across the park, gathering data on each trail for a series of guides on the hiking trails of Big Bend Ranch State Park)
The park has a description of this trail in one of it's newsletters. " This hike is a relatively easy way to access some wild and rugged back county in Big Bend Ranch State Park, including an exciting 700-foot vertical view of Fresno Canyon and exceptional vistas of the famous Solitario "flatirons" and the mysterious Los Portales. The country around Chilicote Springs is a striking desert landscape. There are historical ranch remains, hidden springs, striking volcanic rock formations, and beautiful desert vegetation."
The trail did live up to its reputation and was by far, the most enjoyable hike I did. The beautiful, warm and calm sunny weather made for very comfortable hiking, while the scenery was stunning.
We had to spend some time at headquarters, since Louis had planned to change camp sites but decided he didn't want to spend several hours moving to save about thirty minutes a day for the next three days. So he had to pay for his site for another three days. And Dana, who disappeared for several hours on Tuesday, had to meet with the ranger for an interview on the incident. (It was a case of him leaving us a message which we didn't see due us detouring off the trail. He turned up about twenty minutes after we reported him missing. He had hiked about ten miles total that day - at age 86! I sure hope I can grow up to be just like him.)
Our drive was familiar because we only went about a mile further than on Wednesday to the parking lot by George A. Howard's Chilicote Ranch, now with almost no remains.
|On the wide first part of the trail - the trail is much narrower and fainter after Chilocote Springs|
|Not sure if this is a stressed prickly pear or a purple prickly pear.|
|This mistletoe was glowing so gold in the morning light, I thought I was seeing blooms|
|Cottonwoods mark a dry wash and the mostly dry Chilicote Spring|
|The trail - in places it was hard to follow|
|It was important to keep watch for cairns that marked the trail - most were on the ground|
|Dead cactus pads sounded like wooden boxes when I carefully kicked them|
|Ken taking a break in the rocks - he needed a chair fix his sock, I think.|
|The only (pieces of) a longhorn we saw|
|It was lunch time for bees at this single flower|
|View right before our lunch stop|
|Heading out on last bit of hike before reaching the rim|
|Louis (middle) is pointing out features and trails across the canyon to Robert (L) and Bundy (R)|
|Susan and John enjoying a well-earned view across Fresno Canyon|
|A view across the Fresno Canyon to los Portalas|
|My favorite picture of the flatirons from the rim|
After spending about an hour with us visiting at lunch, during the hike and on the canyon rim, Bundy started down the rugged trail that leads to the floor of the canyon. I was on a ridge overhead and got his picture when he found an aoudad (Barbary sheep) skull. This invasive species has helped extirpat the native big-horn sheep. The aoudad rams are bigger and stronger than the big-horns and steal the big-horn harems. They also may carry disease to the big-horns and compete for the same foods. However the park is reintroducing the big-horned sheep and working to remove aoudads and burros which also are damaging the habitat for the sheep.
|Bundy with aoudad skull|
|Climbing up on the return trip|
|This butterfly species tormented me all day but I finally caught this one on a mustard species|
|Fluffy grass - this was very prevalent in our campsite and found along this trail as well|
|This yucca bloom looked like painting|
|Some morning glory?|
|Eat Me! ....... Very carefully|
|My favorite flower - all flowers were widely scattered and only one to a few plants were in bloom|
|Remains of a stone fence across a valley - probably from the days of sheep/goats|
|A dry wash near the Chilocote Ranch headquarters - the car was about 100 yards beyond here|
|Some of the early snackers- we did leave a little for the rest|