Friday, April 04, 2008

That Which Can't Be Captured...

Clark and I took over 600 photos in our attempts to capture the beauty that is Big Bend. The following pictures are some of the best.

Compared to reality, they all suck.

There's no way to catch the wide open vistas that fill one's vision. As soon as I saw what we were up against I realized from past experiences attempting to photograph magnificant views that our pictures would be just shallow glimpses. So be it.

Let's begin.

The road leading to our first/last night campsite, Glen Spring #2. The is limited to high-clearance vehicles.

Glen Springs #2 campsite, The nearest campsite was about a mile away, over five miles to the next two and more than twenty to the nearest ranger station. 104 degrees F during the day (but it was a dry heat) and 60F at night. The Milky Way was almost blindingly bright once the sun went down. Coyotes sing you to sleep. The large lump is Elephant Tusk Mountain, about ten miles away.

Another veiw of Glen Springs #2. The actual springs are about a mile to the northwest, near Glen Springs #1 campsite.

The arroyo behind Glen Springs #2. It was filled with the tracks of javalinas and other animals.

Clark and the Arroyo. The crystal clear air negates any ability to judge distances.

Another arroyo.

Something glittered out in the desert. Clark and I checked it out. It was a grave from 1917.

Beyond the grave were the ruins of what we think was a cattle station.

The Window to the World. After a beautiful night in the desert it was time to head into the Chisos Mountains along the Southern Rim Trail. Our goal was over 2500 feet above us along a twisty, six-mile path.

And the views were amazing every step of the way: The Laguna Meadows

Another shot of the Laguna Meadows.

A view of the trail ahead of us.

We started hiking at around 5100 feet above sea level. Our campsite, SW4, was over 7300 feet above sea level. I've been working out on a treadmill for over a year so my legs were fine, but the air was definately thinner up there. I've never really been bothered by my missing a 1/4 of each lung, but this hike left me gasping. The 50 pounds of gear, food and water on my back didn't help any. It took about six hours to make the six-mile climb to our campsite.

SW4, which is considered to be the best campsite in all of Big Bend...

Because you are only a few steps away from the edge of the world...

On a cliff thousands of feet high...

With a view few others than God get to see...









There is something magical about sitting on a mountain top watching the sun set.

Clark joins the mountain wind.

Eventually we had to go to bed. The climb up wore us out and so even the brilliant stars weren't enough to keep us awake. During the night clouds rolled in and soaked everything with dew. We were actually higher than the clouds so when they hit the cliff face tendrils of mist whipped up and over the edge towards us.

It was absolutely amazing.

But eventually it was time to hike back down. The trail is actually a 12-mile loop so we had new sights the entire way down.

The rock changed every hundred feet or so.

Sidenote: there's a reason they say "Stay on the trail!". I'm going to really miss Clark, but his cookset rocks!

There were a number of springs along the trail, but Big Bend is currently in a drought and so the water needs to be left for the animals. Hence I had two gallons (16 pounds) of water in my pack at the start. I finished with a little over 1 quart left.

Entering the Pinnacles.

A view of Casa Grande Mt., still hours away from the end.

Another view of Casa Grande.

Back at the start. Clark managed to free himself so I gave him his cookset back.

Adventure! Excitement! Touching The Sky!


Izzy G. said...

Well done. Check out the new video on my blog, Dude.

kmat said...

Great photos!!! I'm glad you had a great time. Don't you just hate coming back to the mundane life?

Valkrie said...

Awesome! I can't wait until Lone Star C and I venture out to Big Bend. After veiwing these pictures, I am suddenly reminiscent of Guadalupe Mountains National Park (same mountain range/terrain as Big Bend, but further North). Lone Star C and I hiked for 3 days out in Guadalupe Mountains National Park (hiked the highest peak in Texas - Guadalupe's Peak), and it was amazing. You captured some really great pictures. (though, I know the feeling, you can’t really capture something like this with a picture)

Lonestar C and I would love to Kayak in Big Bend.

Did you have any plants abuse you? I only ask because Lonestar C swears that when we were hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, he had violents plantsattack his leg.

Windrider said...

man, I miss Texas.....

Great shots!!

ClarkTX said...

you did a good job, man.

As most of you know, the details of this trip could fill a pamphlet. Like, how good the chili at the lodge tasted at the end of the hike (somehow, I was too tired and hungry to remember to lift one finger to take a shot of it). Pictures tell the story the best, as well as the worst, in one of the usual contradictions in life.

Valykyrie, I did brush into some spiny thing in the desert on the very first 5 minutes of our hike, and of course that was all it took. Everything in the desert is spiny. I would love to take my kids but it seems like 10 years old and up would be a good rule.

ClarkTX said...


oh yeah, as you were saying about not wanting to come back... When i came back my closest co-worker told me that its great I recharged my battery.

I just thought "maybe".

Because a trip like this doesn't charge my "work batteries". It changes perspective.

kmat said...


Yeah,I feel your pain and longing to return to the Big Bend area. My dad was a notorious edible/ medicinal wild plant oficionado and would tease us about the "Gotcha Bushes" whenever he got the chance. We took his scouts and friends there so often that some of the locals from San Vincente Crossing added on a room to their adobe house (Necho & Maria)for him to stay in when he would visit. Every time we would crest the hill going down to the river they would meet him on horseback and call out to "Viejo".
He asked that we spread his ashes there along the bank of the Rio after he passed to his next adventure. They still ask about him when we sit around the fire and tell stories of his many visits and laugh and tease each other until the beer and Pisano are gone. I need to get out his slides and get you and Merriwether together for an adult beverage sit down to view them.

gizmojumpjet said...

Did anything get poked with a stick?

Please tell me you took some macro shots of those lovely lichens.

. said...

Hey Gizmo, you are alive?! Long time no hear. Yes, I think we took pictures of everything we saw. Lichen? Yeah, we got that.

kmat, glet me finish up these 70+ hour weeks and then we can tlk adult beverages.

To the rest, if you think the piturs are good you need to see the real thing!