2019 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Another year passes and The LovedOne remains unconvinced as to her photogenicity. Her attempts to out-hike the camera were working…until…I bought a telephoto lens! Ha! Another (probably temporary) victory for technology!


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Into the Chisos Mountains (Texas) 03-Nov-2019

One of the classic hikes in Big Bend National Park is the loop from Chisos Basin to the South Rim, where one has a spectacular view south over Mexico. I was fortunate to be able to do this hike in 2014. This time the 12 plus miles it entailed was deemed too much for my still recovering body. But I wanted The LovedOne to experience the diverse forest (including Douglas fir, Aspen, Arizona cypress, Maple, Ponderosa pine, and Madrone) found high in the Chisos Mountains. So calling on my ever reliable tough and stupid ethos, I sketched out a shorter loop (only 9 miles with 2,000 feet of gain 🙄 ) up the Pinnacles Trail, along the Boot Canyon Trail, over the Colima Trail, and down the Laguna Meadow Trail.

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The Canyons of Big Bend (Texas) 02-Nov-2019

Days 2 and 3 of our visit to Big Bend National Park found us wandering from the park’s west side to its east side to visit iconic canyons on both sides, as well as a small, but nonetheless charming, canyon in the middle. No hike was over two miles (round-trip), the weather cooperated wonderfully, and the scenery was excellent. As were libations and meals at the Chisos Mountains Lodge (never underestimate the small pleasures of having to neither cook nor wash your own dishes). Plus there were more menu choices than ramen and tuna (or tuna and ramen). 😉

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Balanced Rock (Big Bend National Park) 31-Oct-2019

Five years ago, my brother-in-law, nephew, and I had done some hiking in Big Bend National Park. Our respective schedules dictated we do so in July – no crowds but damned hot! The LovedOne couldn’t join us then and had been agitating ever since to see Big Bend for herself. So we planned a trip there for early November, which is a much more temperate time for a visit. Then that medical issue came up and we feared we’d have to cancel (having failed to acquire travel insurance, that fear was palatable). But recovery was going well and many of the park’s trails are easy, so we went for it. Staying with the easier, shorter trails meant we visited parts of the park that we might have overlooked had we been focused on just the longer, more glamorous, trails. But then the whole park is glamorous in one way or another, so it was all good. 🙂

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Guadalupe Peak, Texas (May 1998)

Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on 35mm slides. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the slides haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. The photos below are some of those old slides.


In 1998, we were starting our attempt to climb the 48 highest points in the continental United States. Guadalupe Peak (8,749 ft / 2,666 m) in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, is the highest point in Texas (Texans likely yearn for Guadalupe to be the highest point in the U.S. but it’s not o_O ). We were planning to do it in May when we learned that our long-time friends, Wayne and Diane, would be in New Mexico then and could join us. So we organized a four-day trip that encompassed a hike up Guadalupe Peak, a descent into Carlsbad Caverns National Park (complete with the deepest lunch counter and a massive swarm of bats at dusk), a guided off-trail hike in the caverns, and a hike to two old cabins (Pratt and Hunter) in McKittrick Canyon (also in Guadalupe Mountains National Park). This mountain range has to rank, along with Palo Duro Canyon and Big Bend National Park, as one of the most scenic places to visit in Texas. It was a great trip with good friends at just the perfect time of year with respect to the weather and other visitors. 😀

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Fortress Rim ~ Palo Duro Canyon (Texas) 17-May-2017

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Texas

For our second hike at Palo Duro Canyon in West Texas, we zeroed in on what the  March 2017 Backpacker article had said about the big views available from Fortress Rim on the east side of the canyon.  The Rim is 800 feet above the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River and from it you can see up and down almost the entire canyon.  Unlike yesterday, with its constantly shifting mix of clouds and sun, today was utterly cloudless and clear.  It was even a little cooler and less humid than the day before – perfect weather for taking in expansive views from the Rim.

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Lighthouse Peak ~ Palo Duro Canyon (Texas) 16-May-2017

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Texas

Palo Duro Canyon is located in the West Texas Panhandle just east of Canyon and south of Amarillo.  It’s the second-largest canyon in the United States – roughly 120 miles long, with an average width of 6 miles, and a depth of between 820 and 1,000 feet.  It’s been called “The Grand Canyon of Texas” both for its size and for its dramatic geological features, including the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls similar to those in the (real) Grand Canyon. Despite all this grandness, we’d never heard of it until The LovedOne stumbled upon it during one of her internet rambles. Backpacker magazine then ran a story on it in their March 2017 issue. Looked fascinating. So we made plans for a hiking roadtrip to go see it for ourselves.

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Windows Trail (Big Bend National Park) 04-Jul-2014

Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park Texas

This was the last full day of our week before 4th of July visit to Big Bend National Park in West Texas. My brother-in-law (Russell), nephew (Bart), and I had been using the Chisos Basin as a basecamp as we did several hikes in the area. To see some more of the park outside Chisos Basin, we planned a short hike – the Windows Trail – and then a drive over to the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon. We got another early start down the trail, enjoying the shady canyon and the cool down-canyon morning breeze.

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South Rim Hike (Big Bend National Park) 03-Jul-2014

Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park Texas

This was the third day of our week before 4th of July visit to Big Bend National Park in West Texas. My brother-in-law (Russell), nephew (Bart), and I had all arrived in the Chisos Basin – our basecamp for this trip – the two days before, had done our first collective hike yesterday, and so today was the day for a longer hike. We settled on the long loop out to the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains because its one of the longest hikes starting from the Basin and the views from the Rim were supposed to be sweeping (and that they were!).

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Lost Mine Trail (Big Bend National Park) 02-Jul-2014

Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park Texas

This was the second day of our week before 4th of July visit to Big Bend National Park in West Texas. My brother-in-law (Russell), nephew (Bart), and I had all arrived in the Chisos Basin – our basecamp for this trip – the day before and today was the day for our first collective hike. We picked the Lost Mine Trail because its being close to the Basin meant that we could get an early start without having to get up predawn to allow for driving.

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Emory Peak (Big Bend National Park) 01-Jul-2014

Chisos Mountains Big Bend National Park Texas

My brother-in-law, nephew, and I had talked for years about getting together for a hiking vacation but our respective schedules never meshed. With my nephew now teaching in Houston, and with none of us having been there before, Big Bend National Park seemed like the obvious choice. Although the week before 4th of July is not the most popular season in Big Bend owing to the high temperatures, it was the time our mutual schedules allowed. By going at this time and doing most of our hiking high in the Chisos (“Chee-sos”) Mountains, we avoided the really high temperatures, had the trails largely to ourselves, and still saw quite a bit of wildlife (Spring is the birding season in the park but there are still plenty of resident species).

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