This was the hike we took on our last day in the park. The rangers warn that it’s a long, hot walk, and the one that they need to rescue people from most often – when people hike it on a hot, sunny afternoon, and don’t bring along enough water. So we decided to start early in the morning, to be safe.
We started walking at about 8:30, and it was cold! Below freezing. We had all our jackets on, but we still had to walk fast to keep warm. And at that time of day the path is mostly in shadow, so even the sun didn’t help much. But we were the only ones on the trail, and it was nice to watch the sunlight come up over the mountains and spill into the valley.
The trail starts in the Chisis Mountain Basin, just down the hill from the lodge, and ends at “The Window” – the gap in the rocks that gives a view out of the Basin to the west.
At first the trail winds down through the dry mountain valley.
Even in the cold there were a few flowers blooming along the trail. This is Dakota Mock Vervain – Glandularia bipinnatifida
There are many different kinds of oaks, none of which I can identify. They have very small leaves – much smaller than midwestern oaks.
Beautiful colors in the rocks
In some places the trail follows a dry creek bed.
Eventually the valley narrows, and the sides of the trail get higher and steeper.
These seed pods were on trees that grow along the bottom of the canyon.
Eventually the canyon gets very narrow, and water appears at the bottom. There must be times of year when the stream floods and fills the lowest part of the canyon because the rocks next to the stream are worn smooth.
I liked these quiet little pools and the sound of tiny waterfalls running into them.
An Emerald (moth) that had gotten caught by the water.
“The Window” at the end of the trail
This is where the rocks drop away and the stream falls down the wall of the mountain. The rocks are very smooth and slippery, so we couldn’t get close to the edge, but it looks like the water drops straight down.
“The Window” with its view of the park to the west of the Chisos Mountains.
Rock colors – I wonder if these are from algae
Pebbles in the stream
A snail in the stream
Walking out of the canyon
The tightly wrapped leaves of agave make imprints of the leaf shapes on the surrounding leaves
One of the rangers suggested that we take a side trail, on the way out, that follows the same canyon but at a higher level, and ends up almost directly above the “window”.
The upper trail
Views over the top of the “Window”
View back up the valley
More views back up the valley – this was my favorite view of the trip.
Some flowers along the roadside on the way back to the campground – Milkwort – Polygala sp.