Big Bend National Park 2: Travel Date Feb. 2013

Upper Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail

Upper Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail

I began Day 2 in the park by hiking the Upper and Lower Pouroff Trails.  These were mostly walks through dry washes with some light bouldering mixed in.  The soft sand surface added a challenge and left me with a large blister at day’s end.

The Upper Pouroff trail started at the top of the mesa.  I walked down the wash on a noticeable descent for about 3 miles before reaching the Pouroff itself.  The Pouroff is a steep rock drop-off about 40 feet high, polished to dangerous slickness by torrents of water over time.  It “pours off” onto the desert floor below.  The rock was a pretty blue-gray color and sloped off the wash at about a 70-degree angle.  I tried for over 15 minutes to find a way to climb down it, to no avail.  I encountered no other hikers on the trail.

The Lower Pouroff was a more dramatic sight.  This trail led from the

Upper Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail

Upper Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail

desert floor to the bottom of a 200-foot tall, 90-degree sheer pouroff made of black and red rock.  I saw only one other hiker on this trail.

Down the road from the Pouroff trails I did the 6-mile round trip hike to The Chimneys, a group of rock formations resembling fireplace chimneys which are also adorned with ancient petroglyphs.

My final destination on Day 2 was Santa Elena Canyon, where the Rio Grande flows through a pair of rock walls several hundred feet in height.  I took the best photos I could, but this canyon must be experienced in person to be fully appreciated.  I arrived shortly before sunset and walked across a roughly 100-yard wide sandbar in the river to a trail which leads up the north wall and back into the canyon.  The south wall and the south river bank belong to Mexico.  One could see the footprints of Mexicans and their horses along the

south bank and in the sandbars within the flowing water.  The water level at this time was very low, such that the river itself was only about 12 inches deep.  There were two horses grazing among the 6-7 foot tall grasses along the bank.  I descended the trail to the river bank and barely made it to the end of the canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

in the remaining 30 minutes or so of daylight.

On my way out, I saw a somewhat older looking black man dressed in a suit, expensive wing tips, and smelling of aftershave walking the wide sand bar between the canyon and the parking lot.   We waved to each other from a distance and, as I approached, he said, “Amazing!”  as we watched the sun set behind the canyon.  “Yes, it is,” I said.  As we shook hands he said “Have a good one, man,” and walked toward the parking lot leaving me on the river bank.   He was using a cane, and ascended the 3-foot tall embankment as if it were nothing.  I assumed he was just someone out enjoying the park with his children.  But when I arrived in the parking lot two minutes later, he was surrounded by an entourage of escorts/guides, all talking in British accents, in total occupying 3 brand new Suburbans.  My acquaintance was being driven limo-style.  The group departed up the Old Maverick dirt road at high speed, and I never saw them again.  To this day I wonder who the man was.  Only after the encounter did it occur to me that he’d introduced himself and talked to me without giving his name.

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon

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About Jerry
Working in Corporate America for many years, I wanted to break free of the office walls for a bit and explore the world. Having put the pieces in place, I am first exploring the USA by road. Colleagues and friends expressed interest in my travels, giving rise to Office Escape. It is my honor to share my adventures.

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