Christina: Museum of Big Bend
All of the LEAPsters were excited for the day to begin. We had finally reached Alpine, Tx and not so far away from that was the Big Bend Canyon. Before heading to Big Bend National Park, however, we decided to do some research on the history and life found there. What better way to do so than visiting the experts at the Museum of Big Bend located within the Sul Ross State University?
The Museum included a lot of helpful information about the history of the Park. One of the many facts that we learned about and found the most interesting, especially because the three of us had been a part of the Sam Houston Austin Internship (SHAIP), was that the bill that funded the park was introduced during the 43rd legislative session in 1933. Among the other things the museum had to teach us, ranged from wildlife, historic events dating back to the natives and Spanish Conquistadors…
and even about the past West Texas language.
The museum also had an additional exhibit of photos called the Big Bend and the Terlingua Project by the Dallas native, Terry Cockerham.
With over 40 different black and white photographs, Cockerham captured and showcased the beauty that could be found at Big Bend Park.
Also on display, was something that we really loved. It was an exhibition of over 20 different older cameras.
We left the museum feeling more prepared to explore Big Bend National Park.
Beatriz: Guzzi Up
For our lunch, we decided to head downtown. Nestled among the older buildings was an old gas station that had been refurbished into an Italian restaurant called Guzzi Up. Famished and with an appetite for something other than Mexican food, we went in for a scrumptious meal. To start, we got some meatballs, which we all had the pleasure of sharing. Professor Yawn ordered a Potato and Sausage soup and a salad. The LEAPsters decided that they needed some carbs in them in order to last throughout the hike at Big Bend. We ordered a large Meatza pizza, that satisfied their appetite immensely. As soon as we were done and after wandering around Alpine’s historic downtown, the LEAPsters headed to their next stop.
Brian: The Hike at Big Bend
With looming clouds, and dusty wind gusts sweeping through the streets of Alpine, we started our 2 hour drive down to Big Bend National Park. Nothing would stop us from witnessing the natural beauty of this Texas landscape, not even a little rain. As we neared the park, with hills full of greenery looming beyond the road, the breathtaking site made us grateful that we had decided to attend this trip.
If familiar with Big Bend, you already know that exploration within the park is impossible without a map. Luckily as co-pilot to Professor Yawn, was our very own expert navigator, Christina Perez. We decided that our first hike would be down Boquillas Canyon Trail. Quickly, Christina opened her map and directed Professor Yawn down the 53-mile winding path that took us to the trail.
With clouds still menacing, we arrived at the trail, that ran parallel to the river, so we got plenty of pictures of this iconic border line.
We were excited to explore the trail and see where it led. As we got deeper into it, we were soon immersed into the bottom of a towering ravine. An ominous raven crowed as we continued our hike. However, this certain foreshadow of doom in the literary world, proved to be just another sound in the song of the Big Bend wild.
Although we were not scared away by this crowing bird, we soon found that the trail had no easy access past the mouth of the ravine.
A little dismayed that we could not continue our exploration, we followed the trail back to our van and looked for a new path to explore.
We soon decided that we would view the North Window.
After taking a few selfies and photo-ops with the Window in the background…
…we made our way to the last hike of the evening. The dirt road leading up to the Grapevine Hills Trail (home to the Balanced Rock) is an adventure in itself.
With road runners darting across, rabbits hoping along the road, and millipedes creeping all over…
there was enough wildlife attractions to keep us enthralled with the park’s beauty.
Before we knew it, we had arrived at the trail. The Grapevine Hills Trail proved to have its breathtaking sights.
Every turn resulted in the discovery of a new scenic vista.
With a vast land of hills, greenery, and dessert, the trek up the trail moved like a breeze.
As we arrived at its peak, we were mystified by the marvel of the Balanced Rock.
Captivated by its magical balance, we stayed there for a few minutes to appreciate the surrealness of the landscape. The other worldly landscape, however, was slowly covered in darkness. As the sun crept behind the horizon, we started our slow descent down the trial. Although it was dark, our phones provided enough light to have safe footing, and we eventually found our van. As we drove through the nightly road, our adventures continued as the desert was teeming with life. Without a doubt, the wildlife was as ever-captivating in the night as it was throughout the day. In total, we saw about 3 deer, 9 rabbits, 3 jack rabbits, 1 white velvet ant, a plethora of field mice, a near million millipedes, 2 rattle snakes (from the safety of our van), 1 ominous crow, and 1 jolly mule.
As we exited the park, dark and lonely as it was, we were excited for our return to Big Bend. Now all that there was left was good night sleep and for the new day to begin.