March 6, 2004

Texas – Sonora, Big Bend, and Davis Mtns

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 3:54 pm by diandy2004

Caving in Sonora Caverns was fabulous – if you like crawling on your belly, through tight holes, rappelling into pitch-black pits, and just getting dirty.  We spent 5 hours on a personal tour.  Just Andy, myself and Bill the guide.  However, it just strengthened our understanding that our navigation is horrible!  We would never be able to find our way out if it was just us.  Now that we’ve been to several caves (FL, TX, NM, AZ), we still think Sonora was our favorite – it was small and intimate and very pristine.  You could get close to the formations – but no touching allowed of course!  Sections of the cave reminded me of the coral reefs when we’re diving – delicate and beautiful.

Andy Caving in Sonora

Andy Caving in Sonora

Diane Rappelling into the Pit

Diane Rappelling into the Pit

At the End of our Adventure

At the End of our Adventure

Just to note, in Sonora we had a hailstorm and snowstorm in the two nights we were there, but the caves were a wonderful, humid 72 degrees.  We camped right at the Caverns, which was very convenient.  This allowed us to do a general tour of the ‘main’ cave the day we arrived before joining Bill for our private wild cave tour – “Adventure Level III” – the following day.

From Sonora, we drove straight to Big Bend Nat’l Park in southwest Texas.  As far south as you can go without crossing into Mexico.  Most people haven’t heard of it, which is part of it’s beauty.  Plus, it’s not easy to get to.  It’s on the border of Mexico, just on our side of the Rio Grande River.  I have one word to say about Big Bend – “go”.  Visit it!  It’s beautiful – desert, mountains, canyons, and river.  What else could you want?  We hiked and biked and kayaked.  Well, if you can call it kayaking…the Rio Grande isn’t what it used to be due to agricultural usage and damming up north.  It was only several inches deep in spots, even too shallow for our ‘yaks.  Pushing off the bottom with our paddles and portaging over rocky shoals was required, but it was all worth it for the views from within Santa Elena Canyon.

Kayaking the Rio Grande

Kayaking the Rio Grande

Kayaking Santa Elena Canyon

Kayaking Santa Elena Canyon

We’re learning a lot about desert-life: animals, plants, and how much cactus can hurt 🙂 About 10 minutes after Andy complained on a hike about carrying a daypack that had extra clothes, food/water, and a first-aid kit in it while other hikers had nothing, I kicked up a broken branch from a cactus and the barbed spine(s) dug into my calf. So, note-to-self: keep carrying emergency supplies, you never know when you’ll need them.

Javelinas in the park

Javelinas in the park

Hiking Big Bend

Hiking Big Bend

Hiking Big Bend

Hiking Big Bend

Hiking Big Bend

Hiking Big Bend

View of Big Bend and Campground

View of Big Bend and Campground

Biking in the park was also very fun.  We almost went as fast as the cars on this unpaved road.

Biking Big Bend

Biking Big Bend

Exploring during a Bike Ride

Exploring during a Bike Ride

And you can also enjoy the hot spring right next to the Rio Grande.  Just be prepared for solicitors crossing the river to sell you their goods.

Big Bend Hot Springs

Big Bend Hot Springs

Our final stop in Texas was the Davis Mountains State Park and Fort Davis.  We also toured McDonald Observatory. Twenty-forty mph winds kept us from enjoying more of the area, so we’ll just have to re-visit this area another time.

More of our “Firsts”:  awesome animal sightings:  Javelinas, Pronghorns, Canyon Wren, and more; my first tumbleweed; having to rely on payphones to make phone calls due to lack of cell service.