…And Big Bend National Park
In June Texas State Parks opened for camping with advance reservations. The Texas national parks were slower to open, which makes sense, they’re in more remote areas and don’t have as much staff as some of the national parks that get more visitors. Guadalupe was still closed, but Big Bend was open for day use only, which I thought was silly just because…who is driving all the way to Big Bend for a day visit? Turns out its almost on the way back from Davis Mountains to Houston, so the answer is me.
June is really pushing it for camping in most parts of Texas, but as you get further west the wind helps keep the temperature down. I did decide not to bring the dogs though. Stella would probably be fine but Nova can only handle about 3 miles in Texas summers before it gets too warm for her. I was feeling very good about my decision to not bring them when I had a visitor to my campsite on the first night, and then another visitor the second day.
The hiking was great, and from the top of the ridge I thought I could see the Chisos Mountains, which gave me the idea that maybe I could stop by Big Bend on the drive back to Houston. Especially because while the hiking was great, there wasn’t quite enough to occupy me for the 3 night trip I had planned. There is an additional trail that was closed when I was there, which would have added a significant amount of hiking: The Limpia Creek Trail to Sheep Pen Canyon Loop to Vista Trail provides up to 10.9 additional miles of hiking but alas it was not an option.
Instead I did the Indian Lodge Trail and the Skyline Drive Trail (which starts with some pretty significant switchbacking). You can see the full trail map here.
Skyline Drive has the distinction of being the windiest trail I’ve ever hiked. The entire time I was walking there was this eerie whistling sound that was driving me crazy. It took me half the hike to realize that it was the wind blowing the emergency whistle on my backpack….
Big Bend National Park
I’ve written a full post on Big Bend before, so I won’t include a lot of words on this except to say that I came in from the west side this time and got to see the Badlands-esque formations on that side of the park. In June rather than October the flora was a little bit different, and there was plenty of emergency signage about not hiking after 10am because of the heat. I did hear a bit of the park radio transmissions warning that with an increase in first time visitors as COVID makes people stir-crazy there was also an increase in heat related incidents and rescues.