This past March there was a devastating fire in Big Bend National Park, which burned mostly the upper elevations of the Chisos Mountains, an island of mountains within the park. The trails were closed for many months, and when some of them finally opened up in August, I made a backpacking trip up to see the results of the fire. I also made a second backpack trip to the eastern side of the high Chisos a couple of weeks ago. The fire had burned much hotter, and over a larger area than I expected. Trees were not burned just along the ground where the fuel was located, but all the way to the tops of the trees. The following is a photo essay of the results of the fire:
First view of the fire damage as I crested the ridge above the Blue Creek drainage on the western side of the mountains.
A few grasses beginning to gain a foothold in the burned ground. Normally the grass here is a foot high or more, making it difficult to see any patches of barren ground.
On my second visit late in September, I hiked in through Boot Canyon, one of the most pristine areas of the high Chisos Mtns. It contains most of the water and wildlife to be found, including a stand of beautiful maple trees that produce wonderful fall color in early November.
All is not ugly…flowers are proliferating as a result of seeds cracked open by the heat of the fire:
And with the flowers, it stands to reason that the butterflies would follow:
And the highlight of my trip: a pair of peregrine falcons doing a love dance above the cliffs of the east rim of the Chisos Mountains:
And the sun rises over the Sierra del Carmen Mountains in Mexico, as it continues to supply the burned and barren earth with life-giving energy for recovery:
My previous post is a look at our backyard friend, the Rio Grande Leopard frog. He is one of two in residence at our pond.
Today, as I watched him sunning himself on a rock near the waterfall, a honeybee (with a death wish) caught my eye. Now, frogs eat flying insects, of which a bee is one. The following sequence demonstrates the rewards of patience:
Oh, well, I think I’ll go get some lunch. Thanks for watching.
Since Stephen Gingold is confined to a sunless Friday due to an allergy to anti-tick meds, I thought I’d post a couple of pics in absentia on his behalf. These guys are Rio Grande Leopard Frogs, and have recently taken up residence in our backyard pond. Most folks don’t realize that even in the desert, where there is water, there are usually frogs.
The first full moon after the Summer Solstice is known as the Strawberry Moon.
In ancient times, each full moon of every month had a name, usually associated with astronomical events, harvests, or other seasonal connections, and not relating to the actual color of the moon. The first full moon following the Summer Solstice, and the last full moon prior to the Autumnal Equinox, are known as Strawberry Moon, signifying the start and end of the strawberry picking season.
The full moon of tonight, June 24, would therefore be a Strawberry Moon.
My friend Ken, his son Derek, and his grandson Alec made a trip to Big Bend to hike the classic “Outer Mountain Loop,” a 4-day, 3-night epic backpack journey across the high trails of the Chisos Mountains, down into the high desert south of the Chisos, and finishing at the trail up Juniper Canyon and back into the high Chisos. At least, that was the plan…until a 1300+ acre fire in the high Chisos complex shut down all hiking and camping on the central and eastern sections of the mountains. With the trail closures, we opted to cut the trip a day short and do the hike without the return across the mountains.
Ken, Alec and Derek at the trailhead in the Basin area of the Chisos Mountains. The Laguna Meadow Trail, and connecting Blue Creek Trail, were not affected by the fire, so the first day (and second day) were as originally planned.
We had a great time wandering around together through the desert, an unusually cool trip for this time of the year. This Outer Mountain Loop is not for novice hikers, as it requires a lot of planning to insure adequate water for multiple people. Be sure to use the expertise of the Big Bend National Park staff in making plans for this trip.