This was the second day of our week before 4th of July visit to Big Bend National Park in West Texas. My brother-in-law (Russell), nephew (Bart), and I had all arrived in the Chisos Basin – our basecamp for this trip – the day before and today was the day for our first collective hike. We picked the Lost Mine Trail because its being close to the Basin meant that we could get an early start without having to get up pre-dawn to allow for driving.
We got an early start (0630) from the entrance road near Panther Pass for a hike of the Lost Mine Trail (4.8 miles roundtrip, with 1,200 feet of elevation gain). At this time of the day, the air temperature was in the low 70ºF range and there was a light breeze – excellent hiking conditions. The attraction of this trail was views to the east and the play of early morning light on the peaks and rocks surrounding it.
The trail contours across the head of Juniper Canyon and then climbs switchbacks to end on a rocky plateau at around 6,800 feet.
We got back in time for lunch in the Basin and then drove down for an up-close look at the Rio Grande, which seemed smaller than it’s been portrayed in numerous Hollywood westerns (the smallness may be a consequence of the drought that’s plagued the region for the last several years). Here, the U.S. is in the foreground and it’s all Mexico beyond the green-tinted river.
We did a very short hike (by now the air temperature was pushing 110ºF) to the mouth of Boquillas Canyon – which is narrow and 1,300 feet deep.
By now it was really hot and time to head back to the Basin to rehydrate for the next day’s adventures.