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Posts Tagged ‘Alpine TX’

The winds finally calmed enough that we could leave Davis Mountain State Park and continue our trip to Big Bend. Southeast of Fort Davis, the road goes through a few more mountains to the town of Alpine…a strange name for a town in Texas. But it is over a mile high and the peaks around it are in the 6000’ range. The mountains and mesas lasted for at least fifty miles past Alpine, then there was a long stretch with little scenery other than typical Chihuahuan desert. As we approached Big Bend, we found ourselves in the Christmas Mountains and the scenery went from ho-hum to “whoa-check-that-out”. In the park the mountains become higher and more impressive. This is definitely a park for scenery!

We entered the park on the western edge, through a tiny town known as Study Butte, pronounced “stoody bute”. A butte is a high, often flat-topped mountain and Study was an early settler. Going east through the park, we arrived at park headquarters and the visitor station half-way across. Their suggestion as the best place to camp is at Rio Grande Village, all the way to the southeast, down by the river, another 20-some miles. Not until we were within a few miles of the river did we start dropping in elevation. There are a few campsites here with full hookups but they are all in a row, not very “camp-ground-looking” and a bit pricey, so we are staying in a lovely, shaded campground and “dry camping”. Back to being very careful with water and with electricity, back to charging the computer in the truck, back to waiting until we find wifi to get online. But oh, ‘tis worth it!

After setting up and fixing a quick lunch, we took off for the river. Four miles east of here is a river overlook giving a good view of Boquillas del Carmen, Coahuila, Mexico, a tiny farming community just above the flood plain. At the overlook were several men on horses, selling trinkets to tourists. One man’s English was quite passable and he told me there were about thirty families living in Boquillas. We were the last to leave the overlook and had already declined to buy anything, so they mounted their horses and rode back across the river. The Rio Grande must at one time have been indeed a Great River, but no more. Much of the water is diverted before it ever reaches this point, much as the Colorado is but a shadow of its former self.

Past this overlook is a small parking area and a half-mile trail to the entrance of Boquillas Canyon, one of three steep, narrow canyons the river has cut through the mountains. I stayed behind to identify some of the desert plants, then hiked up the steepest part of the trail to a marvelous rock outcrop overlooking the river. Carved into the rock are deep, round holes where ancient inhabitants ground their meal. We have seen a very similar rock in a similar location in Sequoia National Park (I think) where it was easy to imagine the women gathering to grind their meal, gossip among themselves, and keep an eye on their children playing in the water below. I’m sure that those sites were chosen primarily for their proximity to food sources…acorns in Sequoia, perhaps mesquite beans here…rather than for their scenic beauty, but I’m also pretty sure that the ancient people were no less appreciative of a beautiful location than we.

From my vantage point, I could see where the entrance of the canyon had to be and could see Larry returning from it. I could also see the same men on horseback, coming to collect whatever moneys might have been left at several spots along the trail where their trinkets were displayed. Then I saw the familiar white and green vehicle coming up the road and called out to the riders that the Border Patrol was coming. They waved their thanks and went back across the river.

In the visitor center we found two slim books, one on the paved roads of the park, the other on the dirt roads. A short dirt road leads to a hot spring which for many years was the center of a small settlement before and even after this area became a park, so we wriggled our way through the narrow stretches of road and hiked down to the pool. We enjoyed the petroglyphs and pictographs on the cliffs along the short trail, then found plenty of folks our age enjoying the very warm pool. As we had no suits or towels with us, we declined to join them, but enjoyed visiting with them and teasing one husband who complained about the estrogen level in the pool and had chosen the river instead. He’d found a nice pool that may have been a little past the half-way mark and was reminded by one of the few men in the pool, who claimed to be a surveyor, that he probably really did not want to cross the mid-point of the river.

In the night the high winds returned and rocked the trailer all night long. I don’t know if the winds are local, along the river, or if we will find them in the mountains as well, but we are about to find out. Otherwise it looks like a beautiful day for adventure.

 

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