Return to Big Bend
23 February, 2010


Beth and Michael made the decision in October of 2009, after returning from "Pauline's Place" in Competition, Missouri, to return to the "scene of the crime" for their 25th wedding anniversary. Beth walks a couple of miles almost every day. Michael started walking 2-1/2 miles during his lunch break instead of going to lunch with the work gang. This was his training for the hiking to be done in Big Bend. He walked 1-1/4 miles up an elevation of 13 feet and back down. (After all, this is Florida)

Once again, the pair UPS'd their camping gear to Michael's cousin Mark in Austin, Texas, then flew out of Tampa, Florida the Saturday before their anniversary. They arrived in Austin in the afternoon and rented a car and drove to Marks where Jennifer and Tony visited. This time with their daughter Christalyn, son T. J and daughter Sarah. Their family had grown in the past five years and there is another on the way.

Sunday, Mark and Virginia took Michael and Beth to lunch to meet with other members of the family: Mark's Mother, Lil and her friend Bob, Mark's sister Debbie and her husband Floyd, and Debbie's son Broughton and his wife Mary Michael.

After lunch, Mark and Virginia took Michael and Beth to see Mark's thirty foot sailboat that he keeps on Lake Travis. It had developed a leak and almost sank, but repairs were underway and it was a really nice boat. Mark was proud of some fiberglass repairs he had made.

After the examination, Mark and Virginia

took Michael and Beth

to see the views of Lake Travis from the Oasis Restaurant

Monday morning they left for Big Bend and drove out of Austin on Highway 290 to Interstate 10 and turned south on highway 385 at Ft. Stockton. Just north of Marathon, Texas, they saw a prairie dog village and a herd of prong-horned antelope. Just before entering the Park, they encountered a B-52 flying low over the landscape.

The Park entrance fee was now $20.00 but because Michael was old he was eligible for the "Golden Age" pass for $10.00 and entitles one to free entrance and reduced camping fees in any National Park. The pair drove to the Basin Campground and found that "their" campsite was taken and signed for through Tuesday. They checked into the Lodge where they had reserved a room for the first night. after settling in, they hiked the Basin Loop and down through the campground then back to the Basin Headquarters, about 2 miles.

Tuesday morning it was snowing and they had to use a credit card to scrape the ice off the windshield. They had to check out of their room and wait for a cancellation for another room for Tuesday night. They were older now and didn't want to set up the tent in the snow at a campsite other than theirs. The Rangers did not determine that the road to the Basin would not have to be closed until 3:00 in the afternoon. A room was still not available, so Beth and Michael drove down to Panther Junction and took in the displays at that Ranger Station. There seemed to be less snow on the desert than in the mountains.


Because the road was not closed, a room became available that had been set aside in case the employees could not return home from the Basin.

Wednesday morning while loading the car, Beth had gone to get the last suitcase from the room, Michael looked up from the car and saw a group of people watching something in the Basin Loop Trail. He thought it was a deer until he got close enough to see that the animal had a long tail. Right there within a hundred feet of the Ranger Headquarters and the lodge, with lots of people milling around, was a mountain lion with her cub. Beth missed it. That was a first for Michael, seeing a mountain lion after all the trips and hikes in the Basin.

Beth and Michael checked out of the lodge and set up the tent in "their" campsite at old #53. It was now #59.

Wednesday afternoon, they hiked "The Lost Mine Trail" where they had first met in 1983. Beth heaved a snowball at Michael


and they saw several deer

while climbing to the top


 They just missed a group of 90 noisy kids coming down from the top.

The top of Lost Mine Trail is very tranquil when there are not a lot of people milling around. The views are spectacular.

The views from the trail are not bad either.

Thursday, the pair hiked to the "Window",

then drove to the west side of the Chisos and hiked to Cattail Falls.

After the Falls they drove to Santa Elena Canyon but could not hike into the canyon because the Rio Grande was too high and blocked the Terlingua Creek crossing. Beth and Michael returned to their campsite in the Basin, ate and went to bed early.

Friday, the pair drove to Rio Grande Village on the east side of the park and hiked a new trail that they had never been on before. The Daniels Ranch Trail to the Hot Springs climbed rapidly to a Rio Grande overlook

and wound three miles along the top of the small canyon

through the desert to the Hot Springs. The Hot Springs were also flooded by the river. The Mexican government was releasing water from two reservoirs in northern Mexico on the Rio Conchos River. It was sad to see the springs flooded, but Beth and Michael enjoyed their memories of earlier times in the Hot Spring. It was frequented by tourists during the day, but the night belonged to the park employees and residents.

The pair ate lunch, blackeyed peas & crackers with an apple,

and enjoyed the palm trees that had been planted in the 1920's.

 Then hiked back along the trail


to the Daniels Ranch.

Saturday, they sadly broke camp and drove back to Austin where Lil took them and Mark and Virginia to dinner at a good "Feb" barbecue restaurant with great views.

Sunday, Beth and Michael flew back to Florida.