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June 23, 2006 8:20 pm


Today was amazing. Big Bend National Park, like most National Parks, is a beautiful place. I arrived here probably about 1 or 2pm at which point I dropped by the visitor's center and asked them what to do if you only have a day in Big Bend. The ranger gave me two great suggestions and I was off, planning to follow both of them. He had actually given me one thing to do in the afternoon and another to do the following morning, thinking I wouldn't have time to do both the first day. I proved him wrong :-).


My first step was to get food - I hadn't eaten lunch yet. So, I headed up to the only restaurant in the park (and really anywhere in the area) and had lunch. It was a good lunch. Following that I went over to the Lost Mine Trail, which leads to the Lost Mine Peak (7550ft) - the second highest peak in the park. I hiked that trail, and was rewarded with a beautiful view of the Chisos Mountains. It was breathtaking!


That part accomplished, I hopped on my bike and drove the 30mi or so down the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, which leads down into the Rio Grande basin area. It actually gets ridiculously hot down there during the summer (the high during the last few days had been around 106). Luckily since it was late afternoon, the temperature was fine. Once I got there I hiked along a trail through the Santa Elena Canyon for a while. That was beautiful too. It's so huge - I can't imagine what the Grand Canyon will look like. At that point I also started playing with the timer on my camera - a bit excessively. If you look closely at one of the pictures you can see me running across a dried up part of the Rio Grande (which serves as the boarder between the US and Mexico). I found it humorous.


The day coming to an end, I drove back up to the restaurant to discover that it had just closed. So, I headed to my campsite instead (after filling up my water bottles). Incidentally, when I arrived at the park I asked about camping and the ranger indicated that I could stay at any of the campgrounds for $10. He also mentioned that I could, instead, obtain a backcountry use permit for free. I chose the free option. That put me in an out of the way campsite at least 3 miles away from any other human being. It was a little nerve racking at first, but once I collected a pile of rocks to throw at any predators to convince them that I was, in fact, not food I felt better. As it turns out, it was actually a really good decision. I slept really well (it's incredibly quiet out here) and the sky was amazing. I've never seen so many stars in my entire life. Before going to bed I pulled out my laptop and moved the photos off of my camera. But, being such a great laptop, it died halfway through that and as a result I lost 5 pictures. I think I can recover them when I get back home though, so I'm just going to leave that memory card alone until I get back.

June 24, 2006 8:20 am


It's actually 7:20am, but I'm sticking with Eastern time for the journal. I woke up and immediately noticed the black, thundering clouds off in the distance. Clouds that are undoubtedly producing rain and that I will undoubtedly be driving through. Ugh. Today's plan is to make it to Carlsbad Caverns, though I will be driving by Guadalupe Mountains National Park. I might be tempted to spend a day there first, which would mark the first time that I've permanently altered my schedule. We'll see what happens.

The laptop appears to be working this morning, though ironically it shutoff right as I typed that last sentence. It's back on again now though, and we'll see how long it lasts. I think it may be overheating now - I'm not sure. I'm off to finish packing and find breakfast. Later!

June 24, 2006 9:19 pm


Well, today went well once again. The weather turned out fine - especially since I took an alternate route out of Big Bend that led farther west. I ended up passing through Guadalupe Mountains National Park, which was unplanned. Since it was already 3:30 pm (or so I thought - I crossed into yet another timezone earlier without realizing it) and Carlsbad Caverns close at 3:30, I decided to hike for a while in Guadalupe and then drive to Carlsbad to setup camp. I hiked down into McKitrick Canyon (probably spelled incorrectly) where I saw some great scenery as well as interesting animals. Having hiked about 5 miles (yesterday I probably did 8-10) I decided to give it a rest and head to Carlsbad Caverns. Upon arrival I immediately realized that they don't have campgrounds. Odd, for a National Park I thought. It wasn't a huge deal, though - Guadalupe Mountains National Park is only about 40 miles away. So, I drove back there and setup camp. $8, not too bad. It's now about 7:22 pm MDT and I'm just relaxing at my site. I don't plan to do any more hiking today, as I'm pretty tired.

Tomorrow I intend to wake up and go explore Carlsbad Caverns, which will probably take until about 12 pm. At that point I'll see how close to 4 Corners I can get before nightfall. It looks like I may stay close to my schedule yet :-). Well, that's it for now. I'm going to read a bit and then go to sleep.


Eh I lied. My laptop is behaving pretty well right now, and the sun went behind the mountains so I can actually read the screen. I'm preparing my next website update (it won't happen until I get Internet access). I also thought of a few random things I should mention. 1) This leg of the trip (from the Keys to Carlsbad Caverns) is now known as the "I-went-to-Texas-and-not-El-Paso" leg. Evan Farthing and a few upperclassmen understand. Everyone else really doesn't (they might think they do, but they don't). Incidentally I passed numerous signs for El Paso. The first time I saw one I thought "I could go to El Paso!" and then I thought "or I could run into a telephone pole at 75mph." At that point all of the light posts along the road started looking like targets and I decided to discontinue thinking about El Paso. Not that I have anything against El Paso. It's a fun town, the first two or three times. 2) My laptop and I have a love hate relationship. It's getting bad though now that it randomly crashes and eats pictures. The hard drive is acting weird as of now too. Ugh.