Exhausting, Exhilarating, Semi-Dangerous – that was today! We headed to Panther’s Junction in Big Bend National Park around 10:00. Several people had said that we could talk with a ranger telling them how long we would be visiting the park and they would help plan our visit. That may be but it wasn’t for us. We spoke briefly with a ranger who gave us about a 2 minute spiel and then Jerry and I looked at each other with looks of confusion hoping that one of us had gotten a little bit of what she said. We didn’t! Oh well, we then watched a really good video on Big Bend. I would love to have had a copy as there was so much information in there that we could hardly retain even a small portion. We made a few purchases and the lady that checked us out was very helpful giving us some pointers on what we might do for the afternoon.
We ended up going back to the Chisos Basis Trailhead to hike the Window Trail. The sign says its 5 miles. Don’t be fooled. According to my FitBit which may or may not be correct we hiked 7.4 miles! When we finally got to the Visitor’s Center it was teeming with people just wandering around. We did realize that the Visitor’s Center itself was closed for lunch from 12 to 1 but there was a store opened where we could buy various items. We ended up buying a bag of potato chips to go along with our chicken salad sandwiches.
Before our walk we opted to have our lunch at a picnic table but once we got there we realized it was a bit chilly so we quickly got back in the car and ate there. Just as we were getting ready to get out the rain came. It didn’t rain long so we got out to start again. And then a big thunder boomer sent us hustling back to the car for a few minutes. It stopped raining, I got out of the car and headed for the building and it started up again. Jerry stayed in the car and I stood under a ledge of the building. Only 15 days of rain annually and it rains the day we’re there! It finally stopped and off we went.
I’m not sure what I expected and apparently I didn’t read the sign very well. The information we were given list the trail as moderate. Well, I surely don’t want to see a strenuous trail because this trail was difficult for us, one like we’ve never done before. The path was not smooth at all, littered with rocks of all sizes and included a lot of switchbacks. I had not read enough to know what to expect at the end and I discovered that I don’t hike for the joy of hiking. I want something at the end of the trail and I was totally unsure of what if anything was there. We met one couple who said there was a waterfall there but you couldn’t get to it due to the danger. Little did they know.
As we neared the end of the trail we met a young lady who had earlier jogged by us with her service dog. She warned us about the danger of approaching the window and said it scared her and spooked her dog and she is a pretty seasoned hiker who has done this trail before. The wind was so strong that it blew her bandana right off her head.
When we got to the end of the trail it was so very treacherous. We had already faced very blustery winds going through the walls of the canyons but when we got closer to the Window it really started blowing hard. We opted not to go any further but when others went before us we decided to go as far as we could. Before we proceeded Jerry took his cap off and laid it down putting a rock in it to secure it. He knew it would blow off as he climbed. I took my cap off as well and put it in his adding another rock. As I was climbing up the wet rocks a wind gust of probably 40-50 miles hit me and I nearly fell. Jerry said that was it – we weren’t going any further but then the wind slowed down some so on we went. We reached the top of the rocks, had our picture taken and very carefully but quickly went down. It probably was not a wise thing to do but in for a penny, in for a pound. When we got back to where we had left the hats we found them floating in the stream. Oh well, at least we had them.
We then started the 3 mile plus hike back to the Visitor’s Center. The trail is very well marked but it is not a smooth trail as it is very rocky and uneven. We were also descending on the way in and ascending on the way out – not a good idea for me! It was a difficult hike for us, the most difficult we’ve ever undertaken. I was glad we had bought the hiking boots as I think my tennis shoes would not have been sufficient.
On the ride back to Terlingua we watched the sun as it set above the mountains. This is the first day that the sky has been clear enough to even see the sun.
We stopped by the RV briefly for Jerry to change shoes and then we headed to the Starlight Theater for dinner. It supposedly is one of the iconic things to do in Terlingua and since we had not made plans for dinner this was a good night to do it. We didn’t realize that all of the people standing on the porch were probably waiting for tables so we went on in and gave our name to the hostess. We stood waiting for at least 30 minutes and by the time we were seated I thought my feet would fall off. We both ended up getting burgers. They were good but nothing like the Gristmill, Blackwater Jacks or Chimney Rock. Guess we are a little spoiled by now.
We got back to the campground a title after 8:00 but I felt like it was much later. We were both exhausted but too tired to go to sleep. I downloaded some pictures onto Google photos and then tried to put my aching, tired body to bed. Yes, it was an exhausting and semi-dangerous day but a great way to spend out first day in Big Bend.