Today was another busy day on our Big Bend Elderhostel adventure. We started the day really early - 7 am we were in the vans and heading for the Basin inside the National Park - where there is a nice lodge, restaurant, information center, and store. The roads, trails and lodge cottages were built by the "CCC boys" (who also built the Red Rock Theatre in Denver) as an employment project during the Great Depression.
We ate our bran buds in the trailer before we left and then had our breakfast when we got to the lodge restaurant. Our main hike was up the Lost Mine Trail - quite a good climb - 1200 ft - on a good trail. We ate our "sack" lunch on the saddle at the top. The sun was shining but the wind was howling and it was pretty cold at the top. Our second hike was around a loop in the Basin. The main mountain today was the Casa Grande (Big House) which rises up on the east side on the Basin.
We had a delicious dinner at the lodge restaurant and then went to the Park Headquarters where Ranger Rob told us some great "Did you knows" about the Big Bend Park. The talk was very entertaining - the main things seemed to be that the park was not established to preserve a special ecosystem - but to promote economic development once the railroad had been built. It was the largest least visited National Park being about the same size as Yellowstone but with far fewer visitors. The park has many types of cactus - but they are becoming endangered by the changing ph level of the soil - which is being affected by pollution coming down the Ohio Valley, across Mexico, and back up into Big Bend. There tarantullas and super nasty ants and even nastier wasps in the park. The main invasive species is the salt tamarack that grows by the river.
On the way back to Terlingua we saw several javelinas by the side of the road in the dark. Javelinas are black creatures about the size of a suitcase - that look a lot like pigs but are actually part of the pecory family.
One of the most fun parts of an Elderhostel program are the other participants. I think you have to have a good sense of humour and a good sense of adventure to go on an Elderhostel program. This group is lots of fun to be with. There are actually two other couples from Canada and on the trail this morning we met a couple coming up the hill - one of them wearing a Tim Horton's shirt - a pretty good sign that they were Canadians. And they were - from Edmonton.
There are no pictures today because they wouldn't load. Our connection is a bit intermittant.