A walk around the Bend

In the summer of 1944, the area at the bend of the Rio Grande (Do NOT say Rio Grande River 🤦‍♀️), an area about the size of Rhode Island, opened as a gift to the public as Big Bend National Park. Llama is SO thankful for this.

Entrance coming from Alpine

Though Llama is very thankful for this act 75 years ago, he could not help but also be so thankful he got to visit in December.

Have you been to south Texas in July?

“It’s hot, damn hot.”

Adrian Cronauer – Good Morning Vietnam

Big Bend is about an hour from its nearest entry point anywhere, in Llama’s case Alpine, Texas. On the drive, in which you are warned to have a full tank of gas and water, Llama marveled again just how big Big Bend is.

Having just 1 day, Llama and his companions had to pick what to see. They opted for the southwest portion of the park. This is like visiting the southwest portion of a whole state!

A stop at the remains one of the first “modern” settlements

As usual, Llama took his typical tact on heading through a National Park, head toward the ultimate hike, stopping at anything interesting on the right. That way you don’t jump back and forth across a road or path and do, finally, get to the destination. Turnouts and overlooks can be fascinating and you always learn something. Repeat on the way out.

Tuff Canyon
Llama’s traveling companions at Santa Elena Canyon

Llama’s ultimate destination was Santa Elena Canyon an 8 mile long canyon dug by the Rio Grande. By then the foggy morning had turned to the perfect day and they enjoyed a nice hike. The one thing they didn’t do was cross the river and hike back into the canyon. There is a trail, but since the river was up, the less dangerous trail up was not passable and though they are good hikers, Llama’s companions decided not to risk an broken bone.

Important rule of hiking: it is good to push yourself, but you have to know your limits.

Mule’s Ears 4 miles hike away, it was already 3:30 pm,
so……next time!
Goodbye Big Bend – for now.

After a late, post hike, lunch from the cooler, Llama headed back out of the park. Though the thought of hiking the park in Texas summer heat is not appealing, the downside of a winter visit is short days. As the Ranger put it, the trails aren’t safe after dark. The Park is home to bear, coyote, and mountain lion to name a few. It is their home and Llama is just a visitor.

Llama will definitely be back to Big Bend. It lives of up to the promise of a natural wonder. Big Bend is a gift to us all, and what a beautiful gift.

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