Saturday, April 22, 2017

#52 - Saturday, 22 April 2017 - Big Bend National Park, Texas

Roughin’ It Part II
Instant Coffee. The horror. I feel like I am in the U.K. or an Asian hotel room. The tea kettle went on my propane stove and I emptied a packet of Starbucks Via freeze-dried instant into the cup. At least it is Starbucks. There would be no fresh brewed coffee this morning and I’m likely to drink more tea this week.

Yesterday’s heat was stifling. Even as the sun fell below the Chisos Mountains in the distance, the thermometer read 104ºF/40ºC. There was little breeze and despite the weather being beautiful at dark the inside of the Wheelhouse was the warmest it has ever been when I hit the sheets. My bed felt like it was heated. I went to sleep with both Wheelhouse doors open hoping the predicted winds that would bring atypically cool weekend temperatures would hurry up.

This morning it is indeed windy. The sun is rising on a day that is expected to be 35ºF cooler than yesterday. Crazy. 104 followed by a forecasted 67ºF. Tomorrow should be in the upper 70’s and then next week low 90s are anticipated.

Last night I went for a sunset drive and then waited at the Panther Junction Visitor’s Center 20 miles west of camp for it to become dark. I walked the grounds looking at the desert plants and their identification placards. In my truck my laptop was connected to the center’s wifi downloading some television episodes to watch on my laptop since I have no AC power for the week. That’s OK as I just began a David Baldacci novel. Once it was completely dark, I drove back toward camp very slowly hoping for snakes on the road. I encountered mule deer and jackrabbits, and some sort of desert rodent ran across the road. But nothing reptilian.

Today might be a good day for cool weather hiking, but it also is Saturday and the park is more crowded than it will be on Monday. When I returned from last night’s drive many of the vacant campsites in my little out of the way loop had filled up. I’m likely to spend more time editing and writing while more people are on the trails, and then begin hiking in earnest first thing Monday morning. I expect Saturday is a bit of chaos at the Boquillas Crossing, but if I don’t go this weekend I will have to wait until Wednesday as the border crossing is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and I don’t want to be stuck en México. It also is probably a good day to use the park village’s laundry and do some RV chores. One of the reasons I like staying in a place for an extended period is selecting the best days for activities based on weather and less people.

This park is so big and so remote that it actually has its own zip code and a post office at the Panther Junction Visitor's Center. "Big Bend National Park" is actually a town name as well. I discovered this last night when I walked through the desert plant exhibit outside the visitor's center. A note on the name "Panther Junction". The park has about 130 reported mountain lion sightings per year. Over half of these lions are seen from the road by visitors. There are believed to be about two dozen adult mountain lions in Big Bend National Park and they say that no matter where you are within the park you are always within the home range of one of them. Occasionally one is sighted in a campground and then the campground is closed down. Other mammalian wildlife includes black bears and javelinas. I enjoyed my javelina encounter in Laredo, but have yet to see any here. Bears completely disappeared from Big Bend years ago, but now have returned by way of Mexico. There are supposed to be about two dozen in the park now, most of which are on the other side of the park where it is more mountainous and a bit cooler.

All the best, M

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