Wind Through the Trees

Living in the desert makes one hyper aware of differences in nature. Wind differs greatly between a canyon and a tree.

 

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Big Bend Ranch State Park – FIESTA

Big Bend Ranch State Park finally held its much anticipated “Fiesta” this past weekend (November 13-15). Ater being cancelled for various reasons twice before this year the party was held and was it a success! Most arrived on Saturday to sit beneath old army tents to eat some of the best dang bar-b-que Texas has to offer.

 

 

 

The weather couldn’t have been more perfect all weekend. After lunch Andy Samson and Bob McKnight talked a little bit about the State park and State Parks in general. They pointed out “that no one thought anyone would come to Yellowstone when they opened their gates in 1872.” Certainly that is not the case as over 500 people turned out for the Fiesta at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Dennis Jay took the stage after Andy and Bob to play some of his cowboy songs.

 

 

 

 

Visitors were able to bird, hike, experience rock art, horse back ride, and meet with archeaologists to talk about the wealth of information found in the historic area of the Big Bend. Camping, lodging, and all other fees were waived as a celebration of the park’s party.

 

I camped at Chorro Vista on this particular visit to the park. Upon calling for reservations I told the ranger I wanted the most difficult site to get to. It certainly was difficult, and long. I wouldn’t recommend anything other than a serious 4 wheel drive truck. It was incredible, nestled above and between Madrid Falls Canyon and the edge of the Solatario. The Solatario, an enormous collapsed volcano, is the park’s main feature. It is almost 10 miles across and one of the most distinctive geological features visible from space.

 

 

While the festivities continued on Sunday we took a trip down Fresno Canyon, also only 4 wheel drive accesible, or by way of horse back. Up the mountain, down the other side and onto a shut up creekbed, there are campsites along the way. The end of the line, 7 miles and almost 2 hours later, comes at the old Crawford-Smith Ranch.

 

 

 

 

Water seeping up through the sediment allowed for beautiful big cottonwoods to reside among the rock and basalt. Wandering through the ruins of the old ranch made me appreciate even more how incredible self sustaining one has to be to ranch in the desert so far away from everyone and everything.

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Madera Canyon Trail

TrailheadThe Nature Conservancy outside of Fort Davis has public hike days once a month. Find that information on their website. The conservancy protects “an island in the sky” and Mt. Livermore.

Dam

There are many different ecologies and wildlife present in the area the conservancy protects, which is why it is important to be there on public days to learn about the project.

Dam topThere is one public trail, however, very near the conservancy. It is very accessible as it originates at a picnic site off of 118 past the McDonald Observatory. The trail is called Madera Canyon Trail. It consists of a 2.4 mile loop, in which you hike to the overlook and look down into the canyon, or hike through the bottom and encounter a large pond. It’s situation in the Davis Mountains makes it a unique public trail different from those in the Davis Mountains State Park.

Overlook

Not too difficult, and mostly shaded, this trail is enjoyable at any time of day, but if you wish to see wildlife, I would recoomend early morning or evening.

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Hallie Stillwell Hall of Fame Museum

Hallie Stillwell Hall of FameHallie Stillwell was a pioneer woman who married a rancher and made the trek west in the covered wagon days. She was well known in the region and in the state of Texas. Travel South from Marathon and turn left at the ranch road just before Persimmon Gap Headquarters of Big Bend National Park, continue about 9 miles and come across the Stillwell Store and RV Park.

Hallie Stillwell Museum Fireplace

Having heard about the Hallie Stillwell Hall of Fame Museum I was curoius but unsure if the museum would be open on a Sunday. We were greeted by Hallie’s grand daughter in the Stillwell store. She gave us a key attached to a large flat wooden coyote and told us to please turn the lights off when we were finished. “Be sure and watch the video, it’ll help your knowledge.”

Upon entering the museum, situated to the right of the store in an old but renovated adobe, a large portraitWatching the Hallie Stillwell Video of Hallie in her iconic red boots and red cowgirl hat is a friendly greeting. In the large, parlor like, room to the right is the video. It was shot when Hallie was 97, I seem to remember her grand daughter telling me, by Austin College. It’s a fascinating video not only about Hallie and the Stillwell Ranch, but about the history of the Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, and the borderland.

Terlingua Chili Cook Off HatsThe Hall of Fame is filled with things from Hallie’s life. Chili Cookoff Queen cowgirl hats from Terlingua, furniture, her family’s belongings, writings, books, and western life. The Stillwells give new meaning to the word survive and if you live in the area or are interested in the history I highly reccomend a trip to this wonderful resource and celebration of an incredible woman’s life and family.

veterinary medical kit?

When we brought the key back I chatted with her grand daughter who is quite an accomplished crochet artist and we made it onto the porch with a coke. Spent the rest of our time chating about contemporary issues in the region with a couple of locals. It seems surviving in the desert, and the even more deserted corners is still difficult and still worth respect.

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Marfa Glider Ride

DSC00457Burt Compton has an impressive amount of experience when it comes to flying/gliding glyders. His business is Marfa Glider and he is located at the Marfa Airport. Gliding over Marfa is an incredible experience. On the edge of the Chihuahuan desert, Marfa is a town of around 2,000 people filled with history. The architecture and lay out of the town translates well from the air.

On my ride with Burt we flew over the courthouse, Fort D.A. Russel (now the Chinati Foundation), and ElMarfa Glider II Cosmico. He also gave me quite the panoramic view of the various mountain ranges seen from Marfa’s city center. It’s hard to name all of them, but they are just as impressive from a birds eye as they are from the ground.

Glider RideWhether you are visiting Big Bend Country or have lived here all your life, a glider ride is hard to beat. Change your perspective by soaring above this high desert plateau.

Visit the Marfa Glider website for more information.

El Cosmico and Chinati Foundation

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Marfa Docu-mini

Melina Kolb is a journalist based in Chicago, IL. Sparked by the interest of Marfa and why so many young people are moving there she decided to film a piece about those youngins who move to Marfa after college or shortly there-after. We give it a thumbs up.

Check it out here.

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High Desert Photography

Lost Mine Trail

Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend National Park

Antelope

Antelope, Pinto Canyon Marfa, TX

Marathon

Marathon, TX

Big Bend Sunset

Big Bend National Park Sunset

Yucca Bloom

Yucca Bloom, Marathon, TX

Posada Milagro Breakfast

Brunch, Terlingua, TX

Basin

Chisos Basin, Big Bend

Big Bend

Big Bend Headquarters

Bull and Dry Arroyo

Bull & Dry Arroyo, Marfa, TX

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