I agreed to an online friend’s invitation to meet other plant nerds, and hike Chisos Basin in Big Bend National Park.
That we did – about 14 miles and 1,800′ in elevation / up-down.
The trip there and back was almost as good. Photos 9/10/2016-ish. Many, many photos, not much text, and I added a number of plant names as you rifle through.
A weak cool front reinforced the moist air from the east, and cool and damp was much different than back home just 4 hours NW.
See you on the back side, Marfa!
just vernacular home architecture
Helianthus maxmillianii with Opuntia lindheimeri (?)
it’s always Marfa, Marfa, Marfa
Light was getting low, so to meet the next day’s hiking buddies, I quickly wound through the hills to Alpine for the night – no photos there. Those hills were dripping wet, all shades of green in the mists and clouds. Agave spp., Dasylirion leiophyllum, Quercus grisea, and waist-high grama grasses…surreal.
WHere I stayed: a nice welcome at my airbnb rental
too bad the others picked pizza, when there is godlike BBQ next door,…
Where I wasn’t staying: I had to spy the Holland Hotel…the lobby and fireplace was taken by guests, so no room for this solo NM guy to sit
spikes used in containers all over – refreshing
We drove in a caravan of 4 vehicles from Alpine to Study Butte, then through the park gates up to Chisos Basin. I think that alone was another 2 hours or more.
Since the lower desert areas around Terlingua and Study Butte are often hotter than Phoenix, this was relief. Like many an early August morning back home, heavy and humid air, but with plenty of coolness to feel fresh.
Everyone but me, since I held my camera.
Adam, —, —, — down below doing serious botanization
David the organizer or instigator
looking past the Artemisia ludoviciana
This group of images looks like Christy Ten Eyck has hiked here for inspiration, or just got inspiration when all she wanted was a hike. Many plants growing in cracks of boulders.
damianitas and rocks
ferns, agaves, wet soil…I’m seeing some Portlandia here
agaves and grasses
I overheard a woman on a garden tour at Ten Eyck’s house asked her friend, “what’s with all the agaves hiding in the grasses?” (me – “get out much?”, under my breath)
ferns and agaves
even a native Echeveria – Echeveria strictiflora, growing out of a rock, of course
and if the Echeveria wasn’t western enough, a cool Eriogonum…as western as a surfer eating BBQ fish tacos, in a cowboy hat after some waves at Windansea Beach
Remember “Havard, not Harvard”? With few exceptions, about the only agave I saw on the trail was Agave havardiana. They were everywhere!
possibly my favorite vignette on the hike
Plenty of other plants, even oaks putting out a 2nd and 3rd flush of growth with the abundant moisture. Flowers, colors, even the bark…find the Arbutus xalapensis.
Salvia regla / Mountain Sage (must have)
Salvia lycoides / Canyon Sage (must have)
Salvia regla, repeat!
Salvia regla again
Bugs everywhere, though I was uneaten. Thanks in part to persistent cloud cover instead of sun.
Did I say green and moist? While the oaks had no acorns on them, the Pinus cembroides were loaded with seed, and here we stood in awe of the top of the food chain having lunch…
this surprised me…
the black bear in the trees at this point was feasting on pinon nuts
…but this vast area was actually an old wildfire burn, but it sure looked like Malibu Canyon!
Water, green, more water
every downhill trail was a stream
can you feel the moisture?
what a pattern
agaves and streams…oh yeah, but this water is a bit grody
imagine building this in someone’s garden
Dasylirion leiophyllum, Agave lechuguilla, and Opuntia — along a rushing stream…not seeing this every day
reminded me of an aloe with a cactus
I wasn’t the only one taking too many photos, so we had to hustle back. That was the longest downhill I remember, since years ago on a fall day, from firs into cacti and oaks about 4000′ below, each step down in elevation warming into heat by the bottom, knees feeling the pain.
This was just greener and cooler, plus my suspicion was confirmed about my hiking boots being too used over the years.
I got shin splints, so it took me a while to join my compadres at the dinner table, but I made it. Then we said our byes, and I drove on while they stayed in Study Butte.
A 90 minute power nap off the long highway to Alpine, and my long streak of luck at Border Patrol stations ran out. I was detained for an hour, but then let go.
At least their German Shepard didn’t scratch my paint clawing on all of my car…
A new day…back in Marfa, where I got a room nearing 1 am, then a night sleeping soundly and far from La Migra.
the view off my room, the cool of the morning
I sipped coffee out here and read until check-out…got my money’s worth
of course, another timeless Trost design
Exploring town, enjoying being away from some bad things at work, knowing I had to leave. I milked out being in Marfa all day!
walking tiny Marfa, reminding me to resume my pro-bono design…storms building fast
going to the top of the Presidio County Courthouse
crash, boom, rain…safe inside on a now-rainy day in Marfa
Then the last 4 hours of driving, and a desert sunset.
After a few days in reality, back to the illusion that pays the bills and keeps a roof over my head. I was now ready for the coming weeks, and richer in Agave havardiana sightings.
I’ve seen these Texas Sage / Leucophyllum spp. for several years, and since I’ve lived blocks away for over 2 years, they’ve done this all three monsoon seasons.
Intense flowering in spite of all the things that normally cause problems. A happy exception in the tightest, most undersized-for-a-large-plant space one can imagine – things other informed horticulturists and I educate against, because we see countless examples as proof.
Exceptions aren’t rules.
Regardless of bodacious blooms, larger shrubs can only be kept smaller so long. Plus, if they’re going to prune something tight or shape it, at least it should be done right: learn first.
Hint: lifting up bottoms of shrubs usually fails.
Failure includes an entire plant’s lower parts dying, then premature death for the plant…and no more flowering! You can read more online, or just watch it happen somewhere near you.
This is a higher road for that Texas Ranger, though.
By the way, a benchmark of dos and don’ts for desert southwest shrub pruning is found – here