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The Window Over the Desert

by Adam Lupiani 2 months ago in america
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Day Seven of Camping and Hiking in Big Bend National Park

Ian and I climbed up the walls alongside a trail and hung out for a while.

We woke up at a decent hour and made breakfast, packed up camp and got ready to head to the basin. We wanted to do the Window Trail, a roughly 6-mile round trip from the parking lot by the lodge. Depending on how my hip would feel after that, we had our eyes on either the Lost Mine Trail or the Boot Canyon Trail after lunch. But first and foremost we wanted to err on the side of caution and relaxation. It was our last easy day before we began the Chisos Mountain Loop (a combination of several trail segments for a total length of almost 17 miles).

We walked across the dirt road and ate our breakfast of oatmeal, the last of the dried strawberries stirred into my bowl. The sun slowly inched out above the mesa east of us, stretching almost as far as we could see to the north and south, though we knew there was a cliff lost somewhere in the morning haze.

With the car packed, we pulled out of our campsite and headed south on Old Ore Road. The dirt road carved up a couple hills before leveling out for a few miles. We crawled along, waving to other campers who were cooking breakfast as we passed their sites. One couple was making pancakes, we could smell the maple syrup as we drove by.

The view from the top of the Window View Trail.

Back on the paved road we turned northwest and made our way into the basin, found parking near the lodge and packed a few snacks into our smaller packs. A bag of trail mix, a couple liters of water, an apple. We ran out of oranges days ago. We first made the small loop that is the Window View Trail. The basin was, at one point, a volcano, forming the ridge of mountains all around us. It also holds rain water, filtering it down towards the low dip near the west of the basin. This dip in the ridgeline is the window. A steep cut in the rocky border of the basin. The Window Trail follows the direction of streams down the gently sloping basin through thick vegetation and between steep rock faces.

We stopped by the bathrooms before heading down the Window Trail. As I was waiting outside, a group of people were trying to figure out how to fit all 6 or 7 of them into a picture taken at arm’s length. I offered to take a few pictures for them, asked them what loop they were setting out on and how many nights they’d be out. The Basin Loop was their answer, and they’d be out two nights. They asked if I was just coming back from the loop, and I explained I was having a rest day with my friend, we had finished Marufo Vega and would be in the Chisos tomorrow. They all agreed the Marufo Vega was impressive, a difficult hike and that they didn’t feel ready for it.

That helped me feel a bit better about the condition I was in when we finished the trail.

Short trees and lots of underbrush grew along the trail, for much of it water trickled along a creek.

We started down the Window Trail and walked for about half an hour before we heard some rustling in the underbrush to our left. We stopped, peering through the branches and leaves, and saw a javelina trotting along a small stream. We walked quietly, trying to keep pace, to keep it in sight, but the sounds of other hikers drove it further from the trail. We also saw some deer not far from the trail.

The trail became more crowded as we got closer to the end. Eventually we came to a barely trickling stream at the bottom of a steep valley. As we went, the stream got wider and deeper, creating a few tiny waterfalls as it moved lower and further west. Soon we came to the end of the trail, a sharp cutout in the basin ridge overlooking a sheer drop of hundreds of feet.

Through the gap in the mountain we could see the whole western side of the park, looking out over the parts of the park we had spent the least amount of time in.

Sitting on the edge of the window. There was a short line of people waiting to take pictures.

Walking back up the basin the sun was at its high point in the sky and, for the first stretch back up, there wasn’t really any shade. We gulped down our water, munched on trail mix and made our way over the rocky path, passing people heading down towards the window. My hip started feeling a little sore, but not quite painful, by the time we were about halfway back. What was really bothering me, though, were my feet.

A rare moment returning along the trail where we found some shade.

We got back to the lodge parking lot a bit after noon and had lunch. Another meal in the lodge restaurant.

Afterwards, we climbed into the car and headed out of the basin. We would be back in the morning to begin the Chisos Mountain Loop, an overnight hike covering some 16 miles. We headed west, looking to follow a few roads we skipped the day before.

So we followed a few paved roads, then stopped at Panther Junction again. We checked the coolant in Ian’s car, topped it off, made sure we were all filled up on drinking water and then headed back around the Chisos to our campsite at Pine Canyon (which was, unsurprisingly, lacking in pine trees). We arrived at the campsite around 5:30 and set up, cooked dinner and began packing for the next day. We calculated water, snacks, made decisions about rain gear and warm layers. We made dinner, fled from some yellow jackets, ate dinner, then settled into our tent for the night.


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Adam Lupiani

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  • Muhammad Naeem2 months ago


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