Mesa de Anguila is a large topographical feature in the far western portions of Big Bend National Park, cut to the south by the Rio Grande. This uplift is one of the least visited areas of the park, and trails here are rough and precarious. The original goal was to hike cross country along an old pack trail to visit a small canyon along the river. It is February and Hunnemannia fumariifolia is blooming at this time. This small canyon is the only known location in Texas, and the US, for this species to occur.Read More
The Window Trail is probably the most heavily traveled path in Big Bend National Park, and for good reason. The trail is so aptly named for the framing of the western desert floor by Carter Peak to the south (left) and Vernon Bailey Peak to the north (right). Rain that falls in the Chisos Basin gathers and runs through this opening between the mountains, supporting residents of the park, animals and humans alike. The trail follows this gradual slope down to the opening, crossing arroyos and rolling foothills of scrub brush.Read More
The Chisos Mountains of the Big Bend of Texas are some of the most botanically and ecologically diverse areas in America. Where arid desert meets juniper forests, you can imagine the abundance of species diversity and unique biological situations. Succulents, coniferous trees, grasses, and herbs thrive in harmony.
Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park is a 5 mile round-trip hike that tops out at nearly 7,000 feet in elevation and offers some of the most spectacular views in the park. In the photo below, you can see the paved road through Panther Pass, near the location of the trailhead.Read More
Throckmorton County is a 900 square mile, sparsely populated jurisdiction in north central Texas. The landscape is defined by a transition from the oak-dominated Cross Timbers to the scrubby grasslands of the Plains. The area explored lies about 1 mile from the Brazos River where Hog Creek empties into it, and a few hundred yards away from Coon Hollow, a drainage bounded by exposed bluffs of sandstone, rising 30 feet above the horizon. While these features are not particularly impressive, they do vary from the norm of relatively low, rolling hills of the surrounding terrain. If this area of northeastern Throckmorton County had a name, it would be Koger, a small community that once had a school, but leaves no evidence of establishment today.Read More
In the far southwestern corner of Throckmorton County is the YL Ranch, encompassing 5,500 acres of responsibly-managed, grazing pasture among low, rolling hills. Two prominent waterways cross this property; Ranger Creek and Tecumseh Creek, both with exposed limestone bottoms. About 5 miles to the southeast is the famous Lambshead Ranch, established in 1880 after the area was purposely evacuated of the Tecumseh tribe of the Comanche Indians.
The area is dominated by Hackberry and Mesquite trees, along with plentiful grasses and short scrub. Abundant rainfall over the past 2 years has really benefited the perennials, and many early summer bloomers were showing their colors. It was the last day of spring and the temperature would reach the upper 90s. After taking a dip in one of the stock tanks, I set to document some of the more interesting species of the area.Read More
It was a very quick trip to Big Bend National Park, and my least active by far. I was in the park for a wedding and was fortunate enough to stay in the lodge where I had 4 walls, electricity, and hot water. I almost felt like I was cheating the system by not camping. I didn't make it down the usual trails so many of my observations were from the roadside.Read More
When you think of the desert, you don't typically think of a botanically-rich environment full of life. Striking landforms dominate horizons in Big Bend National Park, so it's easy to miss the small details along the ground. A variety of textures and colors paint a unique palette, and the desert rains bump up the saturation.Read More
At the end of June, I spent the weekend with friends on the western edge of the Llano Uplift in Mason County, deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. The James River, a short waterway spanning 36 miles before emptying into the Llano River, cuts through the 20 acre property. Never deeper than 12" or so, the river is fed by rain runoff and numerous springs. The area was home to Native Americans, and then white settlers by 1860. The river is known for its cleanliness as it's very remote and unspoiled by agricultural pollution.Read More
Spring blooms are just beginning to pop in the Texas Hill Country. I spent a little over an hour in the Slaughter Creek Metropolitan Park in the southern suburbs of Austin. This refuge consists mostly of shallow limestone juniper forests, all within a floodplain. Light rain in the morning hours had coated the blooms in an attractive misting of water.Read More