Monday, June 27, 2005

the window view

My first sunset at Big Bend National Park was devoid of spectacular colors but not from spectacular light. The next morning presented a much different view of the same scene as I began my hike toward that small v-shaped notch called "the window view." I had originally planned to do a much shorter hike the first day but after my 600 mile trip I was tired of driving and the proximity of the trail head to my sleeping quarters beckoned. I was feeling good and didn't think a 2.5-mile-hike would be that difficult.

I miscalculated. The hike was 2.5 miles in ONE direction making it 5 miles round trip. The first half of the hike was a descent with a loss of 1000 feet of elevation. That meant an uphill climb back in the midday desert sun but I didn't find that out until later. I set out about 8 a.m. and planned to be back before noon. I had a gallon of water and some snacks and had slathered on a considerable amount of SPF-50 sunscreen.

When I saw the "Bear Warning" sign, I thought it was funny. Bears are rarely seen and I thought the trail was so well-traveled I certainly wouldn't see any. Then I saw the "Lion Warning" sign and sobered up a bit. A woman at the lodge had spotted a mountain lion only a few days ago. I had to remember not to run if I saw one. Still, I felt reasonably safe. There were so many birds and plants, some familiar, many not. I was surprised by how many mockingbirds inhabited the park and at how many vultures there were, too. I had thought their many numbers were mostly due to the abundant road kill, but now began to realize that there must be many carcasses resulting from something other than vehicle impacts.

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