Tag Archives: Chisos Basin

Big Bend National Park

Sierra Vista, Arizona

Last week my husband and I spent four nights camping in Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas. The days and nights were so windy in the Chisos Basin Campground that, when we were away from our campsite, our brand new tent ripped and became airborne until some kindly neighbors caught it and secured it with our camp chairs and several rocks.

our tent, Chisos Basin Campground, not yet airborne

our tent, Chisos Basin Campground, not yet airborne

It was also cold. Note to daughter: Both day and night, I wore  up to five layers on the top–including my fancy Patagonia long underwear–and I was still cold!

keeping warm in Chisos Basin

keeping warm in Chisos Basin

Mostly, we didn’t hear the news. The wind and the cold cleansed us.  The rocks and the sky were grand, as always.  The desert and mountain plants and animals helped us focus on being close to the ground. We had to walk carefully on the rocks and gravel. (See Geology of Big Bend National Park for more information.) We had to bend close to inspect the plants, bark, and rocks. I took photographs to help us remember what we saw.

candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphitica)

candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphitica)

Chisos Mountain pricklypear (Opuntia chisosensis)

Chisos Mountain pricklypear (Opuntia chisosensis)

cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata?

cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata?)

giant dagger yucca (Yucca faxoniana)

giant dagger yucca (Yucca faxoniana)

Carmen Mountains white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus carminis)

Carmen Mountains white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus carminis)

View fromLost Mine Trail, Big Bend N.P.

View from Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend N.P.

The Window, Chisos Basin, Big Bend N.P.

The Window, Chisos Basin, Big Bend N.P.

There is so much more to learn: how volcanoes helped build the Chisos Basin, why the black bears came back to the park, who was that snake we saw in the rocks (he looked like the little ones in my garden), and what will be the impact of climate change on this and other natural sanctuaries? Luckily, Tom and I always find enthusiastic and knowledgeable National Park Service workers to help us with our questions.

another friendly and informative park service ranger

another friendly and informative park service ranger

Sometimes, especially now, I feel uneasy and unsafe in this world, but not from the  slippery rocks or bears or lions. I feel uneasy and unsafe about any who would try to take away our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms and our public lands. However, I will keep walking and talking and working to help protect this lovely land and its people.

dangers that I prefer

dangers that I prefer

 

I Need to Stay Close to the Ground

Some days, weeks, years,  and decades seem difficult.

I think, at heart, I am a simple person.  I believe what Scout told Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird, ” I think there is just one kind of folks. Folks.” I am having a hard time holding to that ideal, or, more precisely, getting the world to accept it.  So what I do is cling to the ground to help preserve my sanity (or at least a bit of equilibrium). My ground includes the bugs, the bindweed, and the first tomatoes in my garden. More fundamentally, though,  I am thinking about the wild (more or less) places I have been lucky enough to hike in.

I had been planning to write a post about the hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service. For a  few minutes earlier today,  I thought the topic was too light for this day, week, month, and year of violence, ethnocentrism, demagoguery, and hatred.  I dropped that thought almost immediately. I believe also what Thoreau said, “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”

Enough words. Below are a few photos of some of my favorite places within the National Parks system. May we have peace (I still believe in that ideal, too).

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde

Widforss Trail, North Rim, Grand Canyon

Widforss Trail, North Rim, Grand Canyon

Canyon de Chelly

Canyon de Chelly

fritillary, Yosemite

fritillary, Yosemite

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons

Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument

Needles Overlook, Canyons

Needles Overlook, Canyonlands

Chisos Basin, Big Bend

Chisos Basin, Big Bend

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

Lava Beds

Lava Beds

Scat Happens

Sedona, Arizona
I’ve cheered up and warmed up since my last post.  However, as you probably figured from the title of this post, life continues to—um—provide fine opportunities for growth, such as:

      • the (mostly) nonexistent ice and snow that closed almost everything in New Orleans, but not K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen or Café Du Monde,
      • the bad gas from Murphy USA in Del Rio, Texas, which sickened our F-150, but we received the reimbursement for the repairs right away,
      • the day after Tom and I completed a hike in the Chisos Basin (The Window), I tripped on  nothing on a little hike and sprained my wrist*, but then when I was icing my hand on the lodge veranda, I saw a Colima warbler

        Early morning, Chisos Basin

        Early morning, Chisos Basin

      • my map-reading skills are not tip-top, but we finally got to Mesa campground in the Gila National Forest before total dark.
        Mesa campground, Gila National Forest

        Mesa campground, Gila National Forest

        The lake was way down from (I assume) the drought and the campground exuded a down-at-the-heel gloom, but I am pretty sure that on my early morning trek to the bathroom, I smelled mountain lion.  I think the scat was fresh, too. (I didn’t photograph the evidence, but here’s some from another hike):

Scat, Saguaro National Park

Scat, Saguaro National Park

Scat happens, but sometimes it turns out to be something you’ve been waiting for.

Or, as W. B. Yeats said in a slightly more high-tone way:

I am content to live it all again
And yet again, if it be life to pitch
Into the frog-spawn of a blind man’s ditch,
A blind man battering blind men;…
I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.

From “A Dialogue of Self and Soul” by William Butler Yeats in The Winding Stair and Other Poems

*I found out yesterday that I sustained a comminuted distal radius fracture.  So much for the power of positive thinking, and, yes, I am typing this with my left hand.
Note: I have more in my mind than I can get on the computer today. Please expect Scat Part II shortly.