Justin and I slept well the second night we were at Big Bend because we actually remembered to close our rainfly this time. I even slept well despite the fact that I had to wake up every few hours to dredge myself to the bathroom. To be honest, I didn’t mind the bathroom walks. It sucked leaving the warmth of my sleeping bag, but the stars were breathtakingly gorgeous, especially after the moon-set. The sky was so bright from the stars, I swear you could see thousands of stars, that I didn’t even need my headlamp or anything.
We eventually woke up in the morning and had our favorite breakfast: Freeze-dried breakfast scramble [sausage, potato, pepper, and onion] and S’mores.
That’s when we accidentally made the best coffee drink ever, I call it the Campfire Mocha [because you can make it when you’re camping]. Our camping percolator actually worked today [as opposed to the day before when it didn’t work and we were left with very hot water], so we had coffee, and henceforth the campfire mocha was invented, here’s the recipe.
CAMPFIRE MOCHA ala JZSquared
Percolated Coffee [I use Deathwish Coffee, but to each their own]
Hot Chocolate Mix [I’ve made it with caramel hot chocolate and also mint hot chocolate mix, the special holiday gift sets that come out around Chrisrtmas]
Creamer [to each their own, as much or as little as you like, I personally like Coldstone sweet cream creamer and Irish Cream creamer]
Sugar [or sugar replacement, as much or as little as you like]
Marshmallows and/or whipped cream [optional]
Put one packet of hot chocolate mix into a large cup [we use Yetis]
Pour Coffee on top of Hot Chocolate Mix
Add Creamer and/or Sugar to your liking
Mix it either with a straw or by shaking [if you’re camping and have a camping thermos]
Add marshmallows and/or whipped cream, if you so desire
ENJOY and YOU’RE WELCOME
Now I’m sure that’s not an original recipe at all, and other people have made the same thing, but IT’S FREAKING DELICIOUS.
Onwards, we decided to visit Chisos Basin today because it was the one visitor center cancellation that we did not have. But first we stopped at Boquillas Canyon. Boquillas Canyon is the longest and deepest canyon in Big Bend. We just stopped at the overlook, so we could see the river. There was a trail there, but we decided not to take it.
So we drove to Chisos Basin. The park warns that it’s a mountainous road to be cautious [and it’s also bear county], but compared to the roads at Yellowstone or Crater Lake or any of those other parks, this road was like a kids’ drive. The road has some nice overlooks, but really it’s not as spectacular as other sights within the park.
As we drove to Chisos Basin, we passed the entrance for the Lost Mine trail, which is the most popular trail in the entire park, mostly because it’s not very difficult, but it’s not really an easy hike either. It’s about five miles with an 1000 foot elevation gain. The trail gets its name from rumors of a “secret mine” within the park. Anyhow, the trailhead was super crowded. There were cars in every spot and even cars parked on the side of the road, most likely illegally, and Big Bend DOES ticket cars that are parked illegally, Justin and I saw some Park Rangers ticketing a car that wasn’t parked legally within the Chisos Basin area. The ranger at the Visitor’s Center said the ONLY way to actually be able to get a parking space for the Lost Mine Trail is to basically start at sunrise or if you don’t mind hiking in the evening at dusk.
Anyhow it took us probably a good 20-30 minutes just to find a space within the Chisos Basin area. It is the most crowded area of the park, and it’s most likely because of hikes like the Lost Mine, and because the only hotel, as well as the most popular campground are located there. And again, PARK RANGERS DO TICKET THERE!!!! So be cautious and patient, eventually you’ll get a space, we did.
Once we parked, we went to the visitor’s center and got our cancellations:
I also got a junior ranger book…. because why not?
After we got our cancellations, we just walked the “windows overlook.” It’s not really much of a trail. It’s paved and flat. But it does give you a beautiful view of the Chisos Mountains:
I eventually want to return to Big Bend and hike the actual Window’s trail, which is about 5.5 miles long with a 1000 foot elevation gain, and it leads to Oak Creek, which is a water source for the desert animals, and sometimes offers a waterfall view, but to actually be able to hike a full trail, you need to start early so you can finish before dark, and with all the driving throughout Big Bend, it can take 1 hr to 2 hrs to get from Point A to Point B, so that doesn’t always work for the longer hikes. I think when we come back, I might see if we can get camping within the Chisos Basin campground. [I already asked Justin if we could come back next Thanksgiving or Christmas and he said “sure.”]
After exploring the Chisos Basin area, which really isn’t that exciting unless you plan to hike the trails there, Justin and I decided we wanted to do some hiking. We decided on a trail off of Old Ore Road that lead to this interesting trail called Ernst Tinaja. We got to the road and there was a warning that you needed four-wheel drive to successfully conquer the road, we didn’t have four-wheel drive, but we decided to try it anyways thinking it was similar to Hot Springs Road. Let me put it this way, it was a primitive rocky dirt road with tight switchbacks and it was basically one lane, we drove on it for ten minutes before we realized we might have died if we continued any further, so we turned around at the first spot we could find.
[not my picture or car, I got it from google images to show you the road]
So we decided to drive back to camp and hike the Rio Grande Nature trail instead.
The trail is maybe a mile, round-trip, and not difficult at all. It only has about a 75 ft elevation gain and the trail is mostly flat until you get to the limestone hill where the elevation gain is, but it wasn’t a difficult hike, at all. It had absolutely beautiful views of the mountains. At one point, the trail splits and you can basically walk to Mexico. I mean, not exactly to Mexico, but you can walk to the banks of the Rio Grande river, and if you found a way to cross the river, you’d be in Mexico.
There’s also more opportunities to buy crafts [illegally] from Mexico on the trail,but again, you can’t blame someone for trying to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
The Rio Grande Nature Trail actually extends all the way to the Hot Springs that we had visited the day before. I think I’d really like to hike the entire trail when we come back, starting from either the Hot Springs or the Campgrounds.
After finished hiking, the sun started to set. Justin went about making our dinner [freeze dried beef stew- AMAZING] and I started working on and coloring in my Junior Ranger Book because we were leaving the next day and I wanted my badge. The Castolon crossword puzzle was REALLY HARD. After dinner, we had some desert [freeze-dried raspberry crumble, also good] to commemorate our last night in Big Bend before we headed to New Mexico the next morning.
We spent the night in our tent playing various gaming systems, me playing Fire Emblem Awakening on my 3ds and Justin playing Fire Emblem Warriors on his switch. We went to bed around ten o’clock or so, for our last night at the Rio Grande Village Campground [remembering to use the rainfly, of course].
And that was Day 2.