Saturday, May 14, 2011

But It's a Dry Heat....

Hi all -- Dianne here.  Roger is off this afternoon on a guided canoe trip on the Rio Grande, so my assignment is to write about our hike to Closed Canyon in the Big Bend State Park.  I also have some photos of an interesting tiny cemetery just outside the gates of our RV park.  First the hike....

The friendly docent at the state park visitor center had recommended that we either hike the slot canyon (Closed Canyon) in the morning, or wait until later in the afternoon, so that there would be some shade and not the sun baking down on us at noon from the top.  It was already almost noon by that time, so we returned to the motor home to wait for the sun to shift a bit.  The forecast was for 103 degrees that day.  Around 3:00 we set out with our hiking belts and boots, bottled water, and cowboy hats.

The Texas Big Bend State Park is just a stone's throw from Lajitas, where we are staying.  The drive into the state park on Route 170 was a beautiful drive.  We had been told it was even more scenic than driving through Big Bend National Park, and we wanted to see for ourselves.

We decided it was true!  Not a drive for a large motor home, though, for there is one 15 percent grade and it is a hilly, wind-ey drive that follows the Rio Grande River.  But, oh, the scenery! 

 The Rio Grande in this area is so narrow and shallow that it would be easy to just walk across, except that on the Mexico side is a mountain range and miles and miles and miles of Chihuahua Desert.  There was a Border Patrol presence, but not nearly as much as our home in Mission near the populated areas.

On the way we passed by this very cool picnic area with shaded tables under teepees.

We drove on and reached the trail head for the slot canyon.  

There was starting to be a bit of shade on one side, so whenever possible we stuck to the shade.  Most of the time, however, that was not possible.  

Even with a cowboy hat on, my face got sunburned just from the sun radiating up from the light, smooth rock surface of the canyon floor.

The trail was 2.8 miles round trip, so it wasn't a long trail; otherwise, we wouldn't have attempted it on such a hot day. We left the dogs at home in air-conditioned comfort. 

 They would not have been able to do this trail because of the several spots where we had to scramble up or slide down on rocks.  I will tell you that the sliding down and scrambling up were not the fun part if they were in the bright sunshine.  The rock was HOT -- it was like touching a hot stove.

The photos don't do it justice, but it was a very interesting hike.  The sun was so bright that the vivid blue sky doesn't show up in most of the photos.

Here's one that gives an idea, though.

We made it back out safe and sound.  The heat didn't even bother us very much because, as they say, "It's a dry heat."  

One highlight of the hike for me was my new favorite photo of myself.  With my boots, cowboy hat, and hiking belt filled with bottled water, don't you think my shadow makes me look like an actual cowboy with guns in his holster??  Every time I looked down, I felt like I was transported back in time to the old west!  Also, you can tell from this photo how smooth the floor of the slot canyon was.

The thermometer when we got back to our car at the trail head read 110 degrees.  Even though our car thermometer is usually pretty accurate, we knew it probably wasn't that hot.  Sure enough, as we drove back to the RV park the temperature dropped and dropped, all the way down to 105!

I asked Roger to stop the car as we pulled back into the RV park, so that I could photo the very interesting small cemetery just outside the entrance.

There is a historical marker at the entrance, and several very interesting graves inside just begging for a photo.

I wonder about the stories behind some of the newer graves:

The pet photo of the day shows Bandido modeling his new backpack.  He's the type of dog that needs a job, and we're happy to oblige.  He can carry his own water and bowl from now on -- and maybe my binoculars, too!

1 comment:

Nancy and Bill said...

Can't believe you hike that Canyon in that heat...dry or not!! But thanks for taking us along. Looked like a beautiful spot and we especially like the new cowgirl!!

Just be safe in the heat...please!!