What an enjoyable Texas winter holiday we have had–Christmas in Big Bend, New Year’s in Brownsville and a stop in between to visit the Malloy’s in Brackettville.
During our three days in Big Bend we did several hikes, the major one being the 12-mile Chisos Basin South Rim loop hike on Christmas Day. The trail is very well maintained with plenty of switchbacks, making it not as difficult as I thought it would be. The views from the top were every bit as rewarding as we knew they would be.
One of the recurring views from the South Rim, looking out over the desert towards the Rio Grande River, was a small opening in the distant mountains. We knew this was Santa Elena Canyon, where the river has cut a deep, narrow gorge through high rock cliffs. Wanting a close-up view, we drove the next day to the mouth of the canyon where a short path climbs along the walls of the canyon and then for a short distance along the river.
An interesting shorter hike we made on the morning we drove out of Big Bend, led us across some barren desert terrain to Dog Canyon. It looked similar to Santa Elena Canyon, but was carved by a river that is no longer in existence. And since it is much smaller it was possible once we got to the canyon to walk right through it to where it came out the other side of the cliffs.
Now we are enjoying a week in Brownsville, Texas, the very southernmost point of the state. Here we have visited historic sites, birding centers, the beach, and a forest sanctuary. Sabal Palm Sanctuary was once part of the 20,000 acre Rabb Plantation. It is now a 500-acre preserve that is home to one of the last stands of old-growth Sabal Palms. We enjoyed walking the trails through the sanctuary, as well as going into the Visitor’s Center, which is inside the huge Victorian mansion that was originally built as the headquarters of the plantation.
With our three days left here in Brownsville we are working through our list of places not yet visited. If we don’t get to see everything, there is always next time. Down here they call people like us “Winter Texans.” This is an excellent place to escape the cold weather so I hope to have that label for many winters to come.