Section 9: Presidio to Rio Grande Village
At 8:15 Ollie and Ellie drove us back to the Outward Bound office so they could give us the insider scoop on Big Bend.
How much carefully collected info would they be willing to transfer? Thank goodness it's common courtesy for outdoor adventurists to share wisdom, no prompting needed.
We entered a room that was decoupaged from floor to ceiling with giant topo maps of the park. Colorful push pins marked each water source discovered in areas of the park no one else had explored. We traced the route we would be taking while Ollie and Ellie told us about various landmarks and trails to follow. They also dispelled some of our concerns about water, showing us the location of several sources. Each water source was labeled and corresponded to a detailed log with notes from their most recent visit. Cool system! And reliable enough that it looks like we can avoid carrying heavy packs again. Jackpot! We collected all the info we could and thanked them profusely. Ollie, Ellen, Brian, Morgan, Rachael, and Adam - thank you!!
Back to the road. The heat was immediately debilitating. It was hard to unglue our gaze from the ground. We passed a small, older man on the side of the road doing work on his ranch. He greeted us and asked what we were up to - in Spanish. We tried our best, pointing down the road and telling him, “Dos dias Lajitas.” Nice guy, once again we wish we spoke more Spanish. On down the road we were pulled from our stupor for a second time by a truck that slowed so an older guy could hang out his window to look at Tenny, only to speed up then slow down to get a good look at Claire.
Can we help you? We already know we’re crazy for hiking on this scorcher of a day.
Typically our hiking schedule is organized into two hour chunks of time. We hike for two hours then break, then hike, break and so on. This worked perfectly throughout the winter months but now warmer weather is fast approaching and the hours between 12-4pm are hot as hell. So we've decided to siesta for a large portion of midday. By noon it was unbearable and we looked for a place to stop. A shade structure with the words “Beer Stop” on front came to us like a mirage out of the radiating heat. It claimed to sell beer to visitors passing by on the road but no one answered our ring and we decided to move on to a state picnic area a couple miles down the road.
The picnic area was stunning, like everything we have seen so far in the park. A simple wooden structure covering a picnic table provided just enough shade to lie down under. We were raised high above the river which snaked below us encased in a brilliant pastoral green. Tall mesas created a ring far above our heads and we could see our road climbing a cliff in the distance. We napped under the shade structure in as little clothing as possible, getting up now and then to move with the shade.
Because Big Bend is well known and attracts so many people we’ve been able to be far more relaxed when it comes to our usual safety protocol. Today we threw caution to the wind and decided to hike at night! Gasp! We walked and watched the light fade without worries. When we finally stopped we even considered the possibility of camping in wash.
Why do we feel so comfortable here? Just because for once no one questions our presence?
We are so controlled by perception on this trip and finally we are in an area with a positive reputation. Apparently that’s all it takes for us to forget we ever worried about these things
Claire read a book out loud not even bothering to moderate her volume because well with no one to hear there was no need to be quiet. And our flare gun, which is always strategically placed between us at night so we can reach it quickly didn't even come out of the backpack tonight.