Late Summer on the South Rim

As fall approaches, so have the rains arrived in the Big Bend. And so, it’s time again to backpack up into the High Chisos trails and camp on the South Rim.  

You certainly don’t hear “fall” and “flowers” spoken in the same sentence, but then again, it’s a different place, the Big Bend. It was not long before the bloom brought on by a couple of weeks of soaking, and sometimes flooding, rains on the mountain put on a show:

IMG_0310 Flowers

P1080156 Flowers

P1080167 Flower

P1080224 Flowers

P1080172 Flower

P1080228 Flowers

P1080355 Flowers South Rim

P1080243 Elephant Tusk South Rim

P1080365 Flowers South Rim

P1080369 Flowers South Rim

In addition to a wonderful array of flowers, the critters were all on the move, enjoying the explosive availability of water throughout the high country. The del Carmen whitetail deer, found only on this mountain and across the Rio Grande River in the Sierra del Carmen Mountains, display a real lack of fear born from evolving on this protected mountain alongside human contact:

P1080189 Deer Chisos

A young buck in full velvet in preparation for the fall rut:

P1080200 Deer Chisos

A couple of smaller visitors:

P1080155 Butterfly

P1080160 Lizard

P1080256 Grasshopper

The desert 2000′ below the rim has turned green, nourished by the monsoon rains:

P1080248 Trail South Rim

Even mushrooms grow in the dry, cool protection of shady plants:

P1080223 Mushroom

Campsite on the South Rim is cozy, with all the desert running away to Mexico:

P1080233 Tent South Rim

Sunset is a beautiful time of the day up here, giving way to the moon and Venus, the first lights of the night:

P1080268 Sunset South Rim

P1080280 Sunset South Rim

P1080314 Sunset South Rim

Add Jupiter and Saturn, the bring on the Milky Way and Mars as its escort:

P1080324 Sunset South Rim

P1080331 Milky Way South Rim

Next morning, it’s time to head home, but one last visit from a setting of flowers, and an escort by another whitetail doe down the trail.

P1080354 Flowers South Rim

P1080377 Deer Laguna Trail

Rain is the lifeblood of the desert, and proves that there’s something to see year-round if you slow down and look. As I have often quoted from Edward Abbey in Desert Solitaire, “…crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you’ll see something, maybe.”