Sunday, December 13, 2015

Outer Mountain Loop- Day 3

The final day of the Outer Mountain Loop took us up out of the desert and back over the Chisos mountains through a quiet area of the park.
Climbing Blue Creek Canyon.
Spotted a shooting star during breakfast.  What a good way to start the day.  The previous night’s storm brought crisp cold air. 
Wearing all the clothes.
Back up high in the Chisos, other hikers recounted their tales of freezing precipitation and hail during the storm.  At least we’d been lower and relatively warmer.

After checking in with Pathfinder and making a plan to meet up back at the visitors center, I cruised on ahead.  My camera was full of pictures of all the unfamiliar plants, and I was on a mission to get them identified.
What is this?
I was delighted when the volunteers at the ranger station pulled out a 3-ring binder from behind the counter— “Chisos Vegetation.”  While I studied the plant descriptions compared them to my photos, the volunteers all made themselves scarce in the back room.  Did I really smell that bad?  (it had only been 6 days without a shower— and there were no showers available in the campground and all the signs said don’t wash in the sinks so what could I do?
Ah, it's Mexican Buckeye!  From "Chisos Vegetation" at the visitors center.
I tried to be as fast as possible in my plant identification mission.  It was a fun way to end the trip, and the plant binder answered all my quesitons.  I looked around for information on the geology of the park, but was dissapointed with the materials, but at least I had the most important questions answered.


The outer mountain loop at Big Bend National Park accesses diverse habitats of Texas—from the lovely chihuahuan desert to pine and oak forests.  You could complete the loop in a shorter time, but a three day itinerary allows side trails to be explored.  The elevation changes were significant for a trail where you have to carry so much water.  We met other hikes that overdid it and bailed out on the second day.  Overnight hikes up to the rim might be a better fit for a beginning backpacker.  But for someone wanting rugged terrain and unparalled scenery, this is a great winter trip.

Planning tools:
Big Bend Chat- updated info and planning tips on the Outer Mountain Loop
NPS website about the Outer Mountain Loop
Mary’s excellent trip report (this is what got us inspired to do this trip)


  1. I love those trees,by the old water tank. One of my favorite parts of the hike. It looks like there are cross country, remote places to be explored there also.

    1. It sure was beautiful by that old water tank--such a surprise-- hadn't anticipated that. Yes, there really were so many places that I wanted to stay and explore. I can see why people return to Big Bend repeatedly.