Monday, September 15, 2008

Our West Texas Vacation, Part 4 Lost Mine Tr.

When we walked part of the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park in West Texas, we managed to get an early start. There was a cool breeze and so it was quite comfortable. We tend to be slow to get going in the morning when we're on vacation. Also, as a cancer patient, I'm not the vigorous hiker I once was. However, we love the mountains, and J. David is patient with my slow speeds, so we still have a good time. Often, I sit down somewhere that is pretty and has interesting things to explore, and offer David the opportunity to hike unhindered by my slowness.

The entrance to the Lost Mine Trail is on the road that takes you in and out of the Chisos Basin, next to a parking area. The trail is clear and extremely well maintained.

Yellow-Trumpet-Flower (Tacoma stans) is a beautiful flower and a handsome bush. We saw them in many areas of the Chisos Basin, and they never fail to impress me. Two members of the same family Bignoniaceae that we have here at Selah are the Desert Willow (Chilopsis linerais) which has long skinny leaves and pink trumpet flowers, and Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) which has big compound leaves and orange or red trumpet flowers. All of these have beautiful and showy flowers.

I have always been fascinated by lichens, which produce beautiful colors and patterns on rocks. Lichens are actually two different life forms that live together in symbiosis, which describes a relationship in which the partners involved could not survive without each other. A fungus provides a moist home for a specific algae. That algae has chlorophyll and makes food from sunlight which feeds both the algae and the fungus. Together they make a self-contained life form that can live in inhospitable places such as rocks.
As we climbed up the trail along the back of Casa Grande we looked down on Panther Pass. Through the pass we could see Green Gulch which is the only way to drive into the Chisos Basin.

The native Flax we have at the ranch is yellow. Prairie Flax (Linum lewisii) is similar in shape but is a beautiful delicate blue. Scattered along the trails they provided me with endless entertainment.

The Lost Mine Trail curves around and up the back of Casa Grande, which looks a bit different from the back. It is almost always in sight and stands out like a beacon.

Because of its incredible flame red color, Trumpetilla (Bouvardia ternifolia) is noticable as well as beautiful. This is a mountain flower and is mostly found above 4000 feet elevation.

I was sitting to catch my breath and enjoy the scenery when David took this photo. Casa Grande is behind and above me.

One of my favorite views is this one looking into Juniper Canyon. The feeling of immense space, the distant mountains and their pale blue color, and the bare rock on the mountains across the canyon all are part of the reason that I love this place.

One of the ways I can tell we are in a wet season is that the Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) is covered with leaves. During dry spells they lose their leaves and are bare spiny stems but stay alive even during extremely hot, dry spells. They have blossoms between May and July, which are red and very showy.

A close-up of Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) shows the vigorous green leaves that appear when there is enough rainfall.

After a day of hiking, David and I drove out along Green Gulch and sat at a drive-in spot for an informative sign. We enjoyed the view, the cool air, and some refreshment before going to the lodge for supper.
I never get tired of Madrone trees, and this lovely small tree was in the area where we had stopped to enjoy the view.

A close-up of the Madrone tree shows the smooth reddish bark on the living portion of the tree, and the black wood of the branches that have died. It is not unusual to see a healthy tree with a number of bare grey or black branches. (Check an enlarged version of the previous picture  of the whole tree for some good examples.)

We went to the Rio Grande in the evening with our friends Rhonda and Emily. We found the Hot Springs but unfortunately they were full of mud. We decided that it was a nice place to sit and visit but no one wanted to soak in "hot mud".

Along the Window View Trail is this monument and I wanted to share with you the message inscribed on it, because we are all blessed that there were people who understood the importance of preserving some of the country's most beautiful spots for the enjoyment of future generations. Thank you, Mr. Mather!

STEPHEN TYNG MATHER

July 4, 1867 - Jan 22, 1930
HE LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEFINING AND ESTABLISHINGTHE POLICIES UNDER WHICH ITS AREAS SHALL BE DEVELOPED AND CONSERVED UNIMPAIRED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. THERE WILL NEVER COME AN END TO THE GOOD THAT HE HAS DONE.

Photographs by Margaret Bamberger, August of 2008.

1 comment:

Charles said...

Margaret,
Thank you for this educational and scenic tour of the Big Bend Park. The pictures and commentary are really great.
We are praying for your complete recovery.

Chuck
P.S. I need to give credit to J. David for some of the pictures of you and the scenic background and his role as your helpmate during these treks though the mountains.