After canoeing in the Rio Grande River, our rag-tag group headed into the Chisos Basin to begin our backpacking trip. I did not use my camera much as we headed into the mountains as it was bulky while hiking up the trails, but as always, my binoculars were there and ready to use. The first day was marked by us hiking up to the Boulder Mountain Campground. It was a good hike, and we arrived right at dusk to set up our camp. The next morning, I woke up at four thirty with two of the other guys to head to the top of Emory Peak to watch the sun rise over the Sierra del Carmen. Needless to say, we were not disappointed.
From here, we hiked back down to rejoin most of the others and reorganize for our push to the Northeast Rim for the next night. The day was as laid back as 13 miles worth of back-country hiking can be. I wandered ahead of the main group with my friend Michael Hilferty as we birded Boot Spring Canyon and beyond. We found a nice mixed flock of Black-crested Titmouse, Bushtit, Hutton's Vireo, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets in the mixed oak woodlands, and we enjoyed flocks of Mexican Jays in the mountains and other interesting birds such as Red-naped Sapsucker. Eventually we arrived at our campground, exhausted and ready to get off our feet for the night.
The next day was the monotony and consistency of hiking. The beauty of the mountains was slowly replaced by the pain in right foot. Black-crested Titmice and Spotted Towhees could not distract me as I plodded along slowly down the mountain, eventually finding myself between the two main groups of hikers alone in the mountains. By the time I reached the bottom of the mountain, my right heel was bleeding, and I had agreed to never wear these boots again.
As we sat in the parking lot preparing to leave, a lone Cedar Waxwing frolicked between the yuccas being pursued by a Northern Mockingbird as Canyon Towhees and Cactus Wrens foraged under cars.
In all, it was an amazing trip, and it marked the halfway point in our journey. As we reorganized at the van, we put the Big Bend map away and focused on our next target of the trip, the imposing Guadalupe Mountains National Park on the border with New Mexico.