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Old 02-25-2012, 05:03 PM   #16
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Enjoying you RR Phattyre. Sorry I couldn't make it this time, I see I'm missing out. Your right, it takes forever to get from one end of the park to the other at 45 MPH. The Law means business and they've got plenty of rocks to hide behind.Ha! Ha! Enjoy yourself and be safe!
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Old 02-25-2012, 07:20 PM   #17
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Wish we could've met up!

Good to have you onboard, BBB... wish you and Sal could've come along! If I didn't do it now, it would've been a couple months... too hot then. It's so hot here, much of it closes from April to November, including the Castolon Visitor Center and store. You'll have to come check out the Arkansas acreage Brad just bought.
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Old 02-25-2012, 08:10 PM   #18
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Big Bend NP.....

One of the best kept secrets. I was there in 2008 for the week of Thanksgiving. Good weather, I stayed in the Chisos Basin campgrounds. Every morning when I got up, I would look at Casa Grande and tell her that I was gonna climb her. Finally I did, a group of us took about 4 hrs to climb it from the backside. The park did not encourage it though. I hope to go back and visit this year......


This is from the top of Casa Grande, and I had cel service up there, called my mom!
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sandsman screwed with this post 02-25-2012 at 08:13 PM Reason: add a pic
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Old 02-26-2012, 04:27 AM   #19
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Not many pics from there!

Thanks for the Casa Grande summit pic, sandsman... how did you talk the NP Rangers into letting you try that?
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Old 02-26-2012, 06:18 AM   #20
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On the subject of law enforcement. Watch for unmarked white pickups in Pecos County.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:09 AM   #21
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Hey Phattyre-Phready2 ...
Thanks for the RR...
We are thinking of checking that area out in April...
Or the TX hill country... It all depends on time...

And I know just how your cat feels .. Ours does the same thing...
She get real depressed ....
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:14 AM   #22
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Great Horned Owl roost

While I was setting up camp, John (my neighbor in #4) warned me that I would be camping under a Great Horned Owl roost. I was tickled and told him so... he gave me a knowing look that said, "let's see how you feel about it in the morning!"

I awaken at least an hour before sunrise to the deepest, loudest series of hoots I've ever heard. Two deliberate, ascending hoots, quickly followed by 2 plaintive, decending hoots... the last ending in almost a purr. A couple minutes later, he repeats the call and is answered from the direction of the river. The same 2 ascending hoots, followed by 3 softer hoots... almost feminine sounding. This continues for an hour or more, with 5 hoot getting closer each time. At the first sign of light, I arise, hoping to get a glimpse. No such luck and I prepare breakfast... brown sugar maple oat meal and coffee.

As the sun rises, it paints the cliffs across the river in Mexico in bright contrasts. I've yet to realize I need a camera setting that utilizes the light filters... anti-blur mode obviously doesn't.

4

I stop by the Castolon Visitor Center and Store, hoping they have block ice which lasts much longer in my soft side foldable cooler. Yep... they have 10lb. bags of crushed ice that's turned into a block for $2.85 a bag! All the prices are inflated... a six pack of Bud Light is $9.95! So glad I brought all my food and supplies. I find a pleasant surprise as I'm leaving... the visitor center has public restrooms with running water. I'd visited the vault toilets in the campground and they were as clean as they get, but vault toilets all have bio-degradable toilet paper. I realize it has to decompose, I just wish it wouldn't while I'm trying to use it!



My plan for day 2 was to ride to Chisos Basin and hike the Lost Mine Trail. Unfortunately, most of the trails from the Basin are temporarily closed due to a recent mountain lion attack on a 6 year old boy in the lodge parking lot! It was a young male that must've been starving to act so out of character. The father of the boy stabbed the cat in the chest with a hunting knife. It ran away and still hasn't been found. The boy survived with some nasty bite marks on his face and head.

I head for Chisos Basin on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Byway. There are lots of pullouts... here's Cerra Castellan that's visible from camp.






Here's the trail head to the Chimney's Trail, listed as a strenuous hike with little or no shade. Supposed to be some petroglyphs along the way.




You can see the Chisos Mountains from almost anywhere in the Park... and they beckon me!



My first view of Mules Ear Peaks.



Ross Maxwell Scenic Byway is reputed to be one of the most scenic 25 mile stretches of highway in the US. I'm beginning to see why!



This is the trail head for Mule Ears Spring hike, an easy to moderate hike to the springs. To get to the Mule Ears formation is very difficult.



If I'd come to Big Bend in my formative years, I might've become a geoligist? I'm facinated!!



I should've done this in 2 pics... hopefully you can get the gist. New volcanoes on top of old ones... one of the few places in the world where this occurred.









The Big Bend makes you feel so small.



This is Sotol Vista... BeemerChef chooses this spot for sunset shots. Probably the most expansive views in Big Bend that you can drive to.





This is where I read the Santa Elena Canyon walls are 1500' tall?!!?



Next up... I search for the elusive Texas Madrone tree. I saw some in Guadalupe NP and was intrigued by them. They only grow in a very limited elevation range from 5200' to 5600' according to signage at Guadalupe NP.



The trunk and bigger branches are as slick as ivory. The smaller branches look dead. Also called "Ladie's Leg trees", for some reason?

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Old 02-26-2012, 07:28 AM   #23
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Just did it!

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Originally Posted by Phattyre-Phready2 View Post
Thanks for the Casa Grande summit pic, sandsman... how did you talk the NP Rangers into letting you try that?

We were just one of 3 or 4 groups that I ran into. We were told that the rangers frowned on going to the top because of a bird's nesting area was up there. Also there is no actual path, but from what I saw , the trail was pretty easy to follow. It was not easy for a kinda chunky guy to climb it though. Probalbly if the rangers had got us, we would have had a major butt chewing. I have alot of pics going up Casa Grande, views were phenominal.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:45 AM   #24
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Hot in April

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Originally Posted by LadyDraco View Post
Hey Phattyre-Phready2 ...
Thanks for the RR...
We are thinking of checking that area out in April...
Or the TX hill country... It all depends on time...

And I know just how your cat feels .. Ours does the same thing...
She get real depressed ....

Welcome along, LadyDraco! The Texas Hill Country is a nice place to visit if the rivers are flowing. Last spring they were barely trickling. Hopefully it'll come a turd floater before then!

Big Bend has many closures from April-November due to the heat. Arraflipper said it was 107 last April while he was there...

My cat doesn't act depressed... she gets all agitated and romps through the house like a kitten, doing things she KNOWS she's not supposed to do, like sharpen her claws on the funiture!
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:55 AM   #25
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We were just one of 3 or 4 groups that I ran into. We were told that the rangers frowned on going to the top because of a bird's nesting area was up there. Also there is no actual path, but from what I saw , the trail was pretty easy to follow. It was not easy for a kinda chunky guy to climb it though. Probalbly if the rangers had got us, we would have had a major butt chewing. I have alot of pics going up Casa Grande, views were phenominal.
sandsman! You naughty, naughty boy!

The Chisos Basin is a phenominal place! I'm heading there right now... in the ride report.
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:26 AM   #26
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Old 02-26-2012, 08:43 AM   #27
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Rapidly approaching mi casa

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Old 02-26-2012, 08:49 AM   #28
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You lucky rascal

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Rapidly approaching mi casa

What a place to call home! I'd sure like to be there when it finally does rain... I'll bet the desert comes alive with blooms!?!
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Old 02-26-2012, 09:41 AM   #29
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sandsman! You naughty, naughty boy!

The Chisos Basin is a phenominal place! I'm heading there right now... in the ride report.

All the time.....
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Old 02-26-2012, 10:50 AM   #30
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Texas Madrone trees

stand out amongst the other trees, especially during a drought, when they turn an orangish red color. They've also been called 'strawberry trees'. I've read they can be found in the Big Bend NP! I hope it doesn't require a long hike to find them? The ones I saw in Guadalupe NP could only be seen on the hike to Guadalupe Peak. There were probably some in the other mountains in the elevation range mentioned earlier. But I've gotten ahead of myself... there are still many miles of Ross Maxwell pics before I reach Madrone elevations.



I believe that's the South Rim of the 'South Rim Trail' which starts out of Chisos Basin. Rated difficult, it supposedly has some of the best views available in Big Bend.



I'd seen a lot of these 'rooster combs' growing out of the desert near Carlsbad, NM on the backcountry loop accessed from the Carlsbad Cavern highway. I remember contemplating what caused them?



They're all over BBNP! I could happily spend hours just sitting and looking at them!






It was almost lunchtime according to my rumbling belly, and I'm still on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. I'd kinda' planned to picnic in the Basin.



So I tuck my camera away and ride to the Chisos Basin road before getting the camera out again. I decide to stop for a granola bar and some pics once I'm climbing to the Basin... too pretty, even if I'm still in anti-blur mode on the camera.



I do believe the peak directly over the road is Casa Grande, the mesa sandsman mentioned.



Many of the paved pullouts have signs just before them saying 'Exhibit'. These usually have information signage.



I'm disappointed that the Madrone isn't mentioned on the sign about trees? I distinctly remember reading that they can be found here. As I scan the surrounding hillsides, I notice a lot of orangish, red... kinda' like fall colors, but it's February. Then I spot it at the end of the pullout... looks like a Madrone!



It's been raped by an over zealous road crew, but it's def a Madronne!



This one is suffering from the drought/ ignoramus pruner and better fits the 'Strawberry Tree' moniker than 'Ladies Leg'. The latest obvious prune surely could've been tied to re-direct it's growth!?!! That haphazard whack may just be it's demise!!!







I didn't see anymore anyplace in the park. But if you look closely in the background, the fall colors I'd seen are Madronne trees... hundreds of them! The distant ones just don't show up in the pics...



This one may soon be facing an ignoramus with a chainsaw!?!



I head on up to Chisos Basin, savoring the indescribable scenery.



Casa Grande from the northeast... I bet sandsman spotted some Madrone trees on the backside???



The views within the Basin are indescribable... so I'll stop trying for a few shots.





Looking east at the Chisos Basin Campgrounds... I wanted to camp here, but it gets cold at 5400' at night. In fact, I may have taken my liners out too soon at the Madrone pulloff! I can feel the chill at 12 noon.



The next 2 pictures are of the Window, a knotch in the Basin wall, the only exit for the rain runoff! A 75' waterfall after a rain! I'd hoped to make this hike, considered Easy, but it too is temporarily closed. Earlier the same day of the panther attack, some hikers with kids had a confrontation with a cougar on the Windows Trail, but managed to drive it off. They speculated it was the young male who later attacked the six year old.





Casa Grande standing guard over the lodge. You da' man, sandsman! That looks tough!!



Good views, no matter which way you turn!



Well... almost. Just kidding... potato bikes are cool in their own way. I just don't want a bike you spend more time polishing than riding!



I'd planned to picnic in the Basin, but I'm chilled and it's windy here. It was calm at the Madrone pullout. I stop at the Lost Mine Trail parking lot on the way down. I sure wanted to hike this trail, which was originally laid out by the CCC in the '30's. But, alas... still closed.



Lunchtime! This lunch is really quite good if you wait long enough! It's 1:30 and my daybreak oatmeal is long gone!



Good scenery always makes a boring sandwich better...




And there's not a trace of wind at Madrone pullout... I'm getting that euphoric, 'it just don't get much better than this' feeling...



Hmmm... that made me hungry! Time for lunch.
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