Saturday, December 12, 2015

Outer Mountain Loop- Day 2

The desert section of the Outer Mountain Loop was not the barren wasteland we’d expected from our view from the rim two days ago. Wildflowers were still blooming, pockets of trees were hidden in canyons around the springs. These surprises make desert hiking truly special in Big Bend National Park.
Is this really the desert?
Navigation wasn’t difficult along the Dodson Trail. We were surprised people get lost so frequently.  Cairns marked paths through the washes. Signs pointed the way at trail junctions. It seemed better marked than the PCT or the Arizona Trail, but I guess it’s all what you’re used to.
Cairns and narrow path lined with spiny plants.
Pathfinder and I hiked separately at our own paces.  I zoned out.  No sustained climbs, so my legs percieved the terrain that as flat, though I suppose there were up and downs. 
Just a few switchbacks.  But mostly flat... or flatish.
Why is happiness so easy out here?  Why do all the little annoyances—like spines embedded in shoes and clothes, the stench of five days without a shower, the heat rash and sunscreen eye itch—have no impact on my happiness level?  It's like I'm able to tackle anything. What would it be like to have this mindset all the time?
Looking up at the rim of the Chisos.
I used to think backpacking would allow time for deep, philosophical thoughts about the important things in life. What really happens is that I dwell on three things: water, hammock hang sites, and plant distributions and identification. Where is the next spring?  Could I hang from those bushes?  What were all these plants called? Why do the cactus grow at odd orientations? How has the lack of grazing impacts impacted these plant communities?  Not deep thoughts, yet, it is interesting to notice what the mind dwells on.  Is this what I think are the most important thoughts to be having?
Is this paintbrush blooming in December?
When will the ocotillo bloom?
What is this?  (edit: woolly paperflower)

What type of fern lives in the desert?
Have I mentioned how awesome it is to hike without grizzlies always on my mind?
Water sources were flowing and easy to find- both Dodson spring and Fresno creek.
Homer Wilson Ranch-- can you imagine life here in 1929?
After picking up our water cache from the box near the Homer Wilson ranch house, the storm came quickly...

Fortunately, the next day would be better...


  1. Sorry I missed this trip! Have had no internet for three weeks, and I got a cold so double whammy!
    Back in the saddle now. New IP and a better immune system. Will keep in touch. Give Pathfinder a BIG hug for me!

    1. I thought many times of our Arizona Trail experiences while in Big Bend! Glad to hear you're feeling better. Would love to connect with you sometime early this year for some southwestern hiking! :)

  2. Interesting. I had the shaft of my umbrella break right in half up along Blue Creek trail. That trail does not care for umbrellas I guess :^) Hope you didn't get your tarp or other gear too damaged with the storm. I know those storms can be ferocious and very scary.

    1. What a coincidence about the umbrellas breaking on the same trail!

      No other gear casualties, but confidence in my setup was severly eroded.

  3. That desert fern is beautiful and interesting. My thought while hiking along are so similar. My added thoughts are photo compositions, oh look that's perfect, gotta grab a snap, and there . . . And, knowing me, a bit of dread and enthusiasm about the upcoming profile.

    1. Thanks so much, Jan. Isn't it funny how our minds always dwell on the same things (over and over no less!)...