“People need wild places. Whether or not we think we do, we do. We need to be able to taste grace and know again that we desire it. We need to experience a landscape that is timeless, whose agenda moves at the pace of speciation and glaciers. To be surrounded by a singing, mating, howling commotion of other species, all of which love their lives as much as we do ours, and none of which could possibly care less about us in our place. It reminds us that our plans are small and somewhat absurd. It reminds us why, in those cases in which our plans might influence many future generations, we ought to choose carefully. Looking out on a clean plank of planet earth, we can get shaken right down to the bone by the bronze-eyed possibility of lives that are not our own.” Barbara Kingsolver http://www.kingsolver.com/biography/
Four Chihuahuan Desert hikes unfolded for you:
Boquillas Canyon Trail
A 0.7-mile, one-way day hike into the entrance of Boquillas Canyon, one of three major canyons in Big Bend National Park carved by the Rio Grande. The word Boquillas means “little mouths ” in Spanish. Although no one is sure where the name for the canyon originated, some believe it was named either for the canyon’s narrow entrance or for the numerous small openings, or solution holes, in its limestone walls. The Boquillas Canyon Trail is a popular short trail, appropriate for adults and children. Be aware that during late spring, summer, and early fall midday temperatures frequently rise above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. During the hot time of year, walks along this trail are best taken in the early morning hours.
Hot Springs Canyon Rim Trail
The trail continues along rocky bluffs above the river as Hot Springs Canyon deepens. The route has some ups and downs, but generally climbs steadily higher. With greater height, views open up of the Chisos Mountains, Sierra del Carmen, and Mariscal Mountain. The Rio Grande below becomes an emerald ribbon snaking through endless parched desert. The moisture provided by the river nurtures a lush growth of reeds and grasses on its banks. Wildlife, from deer and white-winged doves to predators such as mountain lions, is drawn by the water, forage, and shelter of the riparian corridor.
Santa Elena Canyon Trail
This hike takes you into the mouth of one of the three major canyons of the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park. Because the 1,500-foot-deep canyon is spectacular and the hike is easy, this trail is one of the most popular in the park. Although it is easy, summer temperatures frequently exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to hike early in the morning from about April through October and carry water. Fortunately, there is shade in the canyon. Although there is little net elevation change in the hike, the trail does require a short 80-foot climb up the canyon wall and back down to river level.
Closed Canyon Trail
Closed Canyon is a deep, narrow canyon cutting through Colorado Mesa to the Rio Grande. The trail follows the bottom of the canyon until a series of high pour-offs prevent further travel down canyon. The mouth of Closed Canyon is easily visible a short distance west of the trailhead. Follow the creek bed downstream into the canyon’s entrance, where the gravel gives way to smooth, polished rock. Closed Canyon gets its name from its narrow width; in some places the canyon can be spanned by holding out your arms. It appears much like the narrow canyons of southern Utah, except that the rock is of different composition. It is often hiked even during hot desert summers because sunlight only reaches the bottom for a short time each day. Although the hike is hot in summer, plentiful shade created by the canyon walls make the hike bearable, especially early in the morning. The Spanish-speaking people of the area call it Canyon Oscuro, which translates to Dark Canyon. The trail is suitable for families with sure-footed children, although they will have to be watched carefully at the pour-offs at the end of the hike.
We’ve been Big Benders since 2004, traveling through, hiking in, and camping at Big Bend’s Chihuahuan Desert from one end to the other. However, the washboard, rocky, muddy Old Maverick Road proved a rather treacherous Honda driving adventure in March. Once off this unpaved 13-mile back road, we breathed a sigh relief and praise for deliverance. Not a primitive road but definitely one for caution.
We’ll probably return to Big Bend National Park again, only a winter visit next time. Although, when the call of wilderness and isolation screams from afar, I will remember the Old Maverick Road!“As I went walking
That ribbon of highway
I saw above me
The endless skyway
I saw below me
The lonesome valley
This land was made for you and me.” This Land is Your Land (Woody Guthrie)
Additional Southwest images can be seen at www.corinthrose.com
Internet excerpts found at http://www.rei.com/guidepost/list/texas/hiking/tx/7
July 28, 2012: Bienvenidos—Terlingua USA