Thursday, January 20, 2011

Terlingua Ranch

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our plan for this day was to head to visit our friend John Wells at his "Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory", or The Field Lab for short. This is his off-the-grid homestead in the Terlingua Ranch area, about fifteen miles north of Study Butte. John's place is a couple miles off Hwy. 118, along one of the unpaved ranch roads. John was not home when we got there, so we left a note on his door. We went back to the paved road and stopped at The Grub Shack to see if anyone there knew when John would be back. No one there had any information about John, so we left. 

Since we were at the main entrance to Terlingua Ranch, we decided to head on over to the Terlingua Ranch Lodge, the heart of this development. Calling it a development is sort of contrary to what it really is. True, they have sub-divided a large portion of the desert here, and sold lots to a lot of people, but there is no development to speak of. There are a few scattered homesteads, but the only development is the Lodge. There is a paved road for most of the way from Hwy. 118 to the lodge, a distance of about sixteen miles. 

If you're looking for a secluded get-away, this is the place. It's not primitive, but it sure is rustic. There is the main office, a great two story hall made of stone that serves as the restaurant and dance hall. There are also some cabins for rent, RV spaces and a restroom building with showers, a swimming pool, a great outdoor plaza, a shooting range, and a game processing shop. Evidently there is some good hunting in the surrounding hills and mountains. They also have an airstrip for those who want to fly in.  

We had been here once before, several years ago. I had heard that the Lodge had closed, and so, wanted to go check it out for myself. We went to the office and there were three people there who assured us that the Lodge was indeed open for business. Good news. They gave us permission to wander around the place, so we spent about an hour there taking pictures.

I'd like to stay here at the Lodge for a few days, but it seems the only time we're in the area is during the Chili Cook-Off. From the Lodge back to the highway is about sixteen miles, and from there it's about twenty more miles down to the Chili Cook-Off, a bit too far to be driving every day during the Chili Cook-Off. We may come down some other time just to stay at the Lodge and chill out.  

Window Trail

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday morning at the Chili Cook-Off is the day everyone packs up and leaves for home. Ok Hwa and I were staying on for the rest of the week, so we were spared this task for a few more days. We helped our friends with their loading, said our goodbyes, and they were gone. It gets pretty lonely up on the hill when everyone leaves.

We filled our remaining time in Terlingua by staying as active as we could. After everyone left, we headed into Big Bend Park to do some exploring. Up in the Basin area we decided to hike the Window Trail. According to the "Hiker's Guide To Trails Of Big Bend National Park" the Window Trail is of medium difficulty, 5.2 miles round trip. Here is their description: "The trail starts at the Basin Trailhead but can also be picked up next to site #52 in the Basin Campground, cutting off several hundred feet in elevation and 1.2 miles in distance. Unlike most trails in the park, this one goes downhill in the beginning with a gradual climb on the way back. There is an elevation change of about 800 feet. Be sure to take water with you. The trail offers a wide variety of plants and the opportunity to see many different birds. The trail crosses a stream of water near the end; you may have to jump across it or use stepping stones. The Oak Spring Trail joins the Window Trail about 1/4 mile from the end. Hike up this trail a short way to an overlook with great views of the desert, Oak Creek Canyon, and Casa Grande".

We started our hike in the Basin Campground, to cut off a little of the distance and elevation. The first part of the trail meanders through the open scrub of the Basin, then gradually enters an ever narrowing canyon. It's hard to say where the dividing line is between the open scrub and the canyon, but the farther you go the narrower the canyon becomes. The last 1/4 mile is the most dramatic, as you get closer to the Window. The little stream was barely trickling water. It would be very dangerous to hike this section after a rain, as the rock becomes very slick and smooth due to the effect of running water over the years. The Window itself is very dramatic. It is situated a couple thousand feet above the desert below, and the view from there is fantastic. It is the only outlet for any rain run-off coming out of the Basin. I got as close to the drop-off as I dared. I wanted to get a good picture, but was terrified of falling off.  

We took a lot of pictures of the Window area, from as many angles as we could think of, then  started the hike back up to the campground. I have to give Ok Hwa a compliment here, because she didn't complain a bit about the long hike. It was slower going uphill on the return trip, but we made it with no trouble. 

On the way back to our campsite in Terlingua, we stopped off at the Big Bend Motor Inn to clean up in their coin-op showers. We had dinner at camp and spent a quiet evening under the stars.

The Video Of Our Hike:

The Slide Show Of Our Hike: