Today we completed a hike to Emory, the highest peak in the Chisos Mountain. Being on the trail always brings back memories from summer vacations in the German and Austrian Alps together with my parents. My dad taught me to keep a steady pace while going up and going down.
Big Bend teaches us that Nature is never done: "It is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everything in an endless song of one beautiful form into another" (John Muir).
After a long day of volunteering we get many rewards, such as a great dinner, a good glass of wine, and conversations while watching the starfield above us develop. One of the greatest rewards are the sunsets at Chisos Basin. I cannot say it better than John Ruskin: "At sunset Nature is painting for us - day after day - pictures of infinite beauty".
Since we have started our time as a campground host at Chisos Basin, we have had many opportunities to learn more about Big Bend National Park. Each time when we hit the trail we are taken away by the beauty of this area.
So far, we had the privilege to hike eight trails and each of them showed us different faces of Big Bend.
The Window Trail surprised us with reflections of the clouds in water filled pools. Lost Mine Trail brought us to above 6,700 ft and offered breathtaking views into Mexico. We descended into the healthy looking Rio Grande Valley after making it through the mountainous and blazing part of the Hot Springs Trail. We visited the top and the bottom of the Burro Mesa, which looks like a giant shower without a curtain. Pinnacle Trail dazzled us with views of Chisos Basin and the Window. Buquillas Canyon gave us a lesson in Earth Science by showing us how water can build beautiful landscapes. The 10 mile hike around Emory Peak introduced us to wildflowers we have never seen before and fascinated us with a tall standing rock that gave Boot Canyon its name.
Many hikers shared their experiences about trails we have not walked yet and we will follow their recommendations.
While we enjoy our three days "on duty" we are always looking forward to the three days off and to new adventures at Big Bend National Park.
John Muir gets it right by saying: "In every walk with Nature one receives far more than what he seeks".
My strength is not to write and the intent of this blog is to "write" in images taken by Peggy and myself during our journey. I will make an exception in the beginning by looking back to our travels from Florida to Texas and the first few weeks of our assignment at Big Bend National Park.
We started our journey on March 31st after a four month volunteer residentship at Fort Clinch, saying good bye to many friends for the next 8 months. We were blessed to have the complete month of April to get to our new volunteer assignment at Chisos Basin, nested in the middle of Big Bend National Park.
While on the road, we climbed the Kolomoki Mounds in Georgia, walked along streets where history was made in Selma, enjoyed seeing beautiful homes in Natchez and Brenham, had a unplanned visit to Houston to get our motorhome fixed, enjoyed the wine and wildflowers in the Hill Country, walked through sleepy Gonzales, got introduced to bird watching near Rockport and South Padre Island, survived the Easter weekend at Falcon State park, hiked the Seminole Canyon to see ancient rock paintings, stopped at Langtry where Judge Roy Bean, the "Law West of the Pecos", had his saloon and practiced law, stopped in Alpine to restock on food supplies, visited a good friend at Lajitas Resort, and finally arrived at our home for three months: Chisos Basin.
Being at 5,400 ft and surrounded by mountains that reach an elevation of 7,600 ft makes us small but thankful every day to call this place our temporary home.
What we have encountered over the weeks since we left Florida is beauty and I have to agree with John Muir: "Everybody needs beauty.....places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul alike".