Texas Tour - Big Bend (2)Day two had us heading off to the east side of the park. This wasn't quite as far, but even though we left earlier, it was hotter. On the drive, we discussed the two hikes and decided on the shorter one, the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. It's listed as a 0.75 mile loop, but like Tuff Canyon, we are pretty sure our hike was noticeably longer.
In the beginning, the trail starts on a boardwalk for 100 yards meandering through a spring-fed, wetland oasis. As you climb the hill out of the oasis, you can clearly feel the air getting drier and the temperature getting hotter. We took one of the spur trails to the banks of the Rio Grande. My guide book did not mention how long the spur trail was. I, for some reason, assumed it was fairly short. But it was at least as far as we had walked on the mail trial, and seemed like farther.
Getting to the Rio Grand itself was neat. It's rather murky from all the grit it washes off the canyon walls that it cuts through. It was moving pretty fast. One interesting part was that you could see (and we walked over) a lot of area that was clearly under water when the river depth was up. We are just at the beginning of their rainy season, though, so it wasn't particularly grand. Although I would not want to wade into it for fear of being washed away even at this lower level.
We were all already hot and tired after that and were considering abandoning the rest of the hike. I cannot express how hot it was and it was not even 11 a.m. We were, after all, walking through the Chihuahuan desert. But J saw something on the top of this hill, as well as what looked like a trail up to it, and was determined to get there. When he sets his mind to something, it's difficult to get him to change. So we climbed up most of the way. To get to the very top, you had to take another spur trail, and G was having none of that. He was d.o.n.e. He headed on back down and said he'd wait in the shade at the car. J and Isaiah explored the top and the rocks and then we headed down.
Like yesterday, we thought we'd at least take a look at the other trail that we had decided not to do. This one went into Boquillas canyon. At the trail head, Isaiah and I hike a few tens of yards to an overlook and saw more Rio Grande and the entrance to the canyon. One thing that was interesting in all of this (today and yesterday) is that on the other side of the river was Mexico. Just a short swim away.
Also in this area was Boquillas Crossing. On the Mexico side, it's a little town. On the US side, it used to be a border crossing but apparently after September 11, they decided to close it. You can see the Mexican town of Boquillas across the way, as well as a few other small settlements.
We finally drove back to the lodge for a little more R&R before dinner again.
But before dinner, we decided to check out another hike. J wanted to show us something on the Window View Trail. I asked Isaiah if a 2 mile hike would be too much at that point, and we decided to go for it. I tried to gloss over the distance but G saw the trail sign. We said we'd just check it out and managed to get them walking.
And that's how we came to do the Chisos Basin Loop Trail. The weather was perfect. The sun was behind a big cloud, and what a difference that makes. The first part of the trail was largely uphill. A fact G pointed out many times. The boys did great and G only had one major breakdown just a few yards before the summit of the loop. The way down had much more ups and downs. It was hotter coming back because the sun had escaped its cloud blanket and was putting all its energy into heating us. But we managed to do our longest hike and survive. And really, because if the higher altitude, the Chisos Basin, while still quite warm, is not desert hot.
We went straight to dinner and topped it off with an amazing dessert (again with the pictures to come!). Although none of the hikes were notably long, the heat was truly a factor. I was really proud of the boys for getting through them all. We knew it would be hot, but we figured we could at least get an cursory look at Big Bend. (Side note- I keep calling it Big Basin by mistake.) Long term, we'd love to do a multi-day raft/camp in one of the canyons (at a less brutally hot time) and maybe some backpack hikes. The geology is really striking. It's only a 10 hour drive from Austin, and I'm amazed at how many people have never been (or how few have). Then again, there are places in Santa Cruz I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never been (Mystery Spot!).
Tomorrow we are off to the gulf coast!