Backpacking Laguna Meadows in April, 2008

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  Mark and I each flew in to Dallas to meet up with everyone and drive to Big Bend on Thursday. We had big plans for backpacking to Laguna Meadows, staying one night, and hiking out to the Homer Wilson Ranch at Blue Creek the next day. We set out early in the morning, excited to see each other and to be headed to our second home, Big Bend!
  Along the way, we stopped at Johnny's for burritos. Mmmmm, so good! We all found something that made us happy for breakfast/lunch. Then we made tracks in to the Park. We stopped at Panther Junction to reserve site LW2 which, by our calcluations, would be closest to the trail that leads to the dam.

We found the sites that Mom reserved for us in the Basin Campground (Thanks, Mom!) and quickly opened the back of the Suburban. Stuff was packed in there so tightly that Dad and I warned everyone to stay back when we popped the back door. Dealing with the gear was for professionals only...can you believe we had camping for six people for four days in there?!

Lovely view for the morning Yay! Dinner time! Breakfast burritos Whew, hot day

Home Sweet Home, indeed The Hardest Working truck in Show-Biz Sorting out the trail mix Making pizza for an appreciative crowd

Next morning, bright and early (what is it with these people and the early-morning?), we packed up our gear, kissed Dad good-bye, and headed up the trail to Laguna Meadows. What a wonderful hike that was. The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too windy. We saw lots of birds on the way and got a chance to catch up on each others' news during the rest stops. Our lunch-time picnic at the top was terrific. We sure were glad to get to that point. The grasses at the Meadow were so full and soft, they tickle your knees when you pass by. Our campsite was delightful. It's set back from the main trail quite a bit but is also in some trees so there's shade.

Alligator tree eats small dogs

Nice trail, eh?

Nathan leads the way

Mom's pack wondering if
it's too heavy

Meanwhile, Dad went to the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains and took a guided tour of the telescope and the computer systems that scientists from all over the world lobby to use. He said it was a very informative tour and he's looking forward to going again to share it with us. I wish I could have been both places, as I would have liked to see that!

Follow them!! Leaving it all behind us Radio Tower up close Best table in the house

We dropped our gear at our campsite, had a quick snack, and then headed off down the creekbed toward the elusive dam. We had pretty good instructions from an internet contact that all we had to do was follow the creekbed until we saw a little trail. The creekbed was dry and not too overgrown, so it was easy to see where to go. We found the trail and followed it for about a mile or so and, sure enough, we found the dam! It's pretty cool, as you can see from the pictures, and is in good shape.

upstream side, about 5' tall close-set rocks = good dam-age appr. 30' long GPS track of our hike

elevation profile of the hike Waypoint of the dam itself

We explored down the creekbed for quite a ways, just to check it out. Apparently, if you keep going, you come to a series of dropoffs which eventually lead to the area above Cattail Falls. It would be fun to go that far someday, but we'd have to invest in some good climbing ropes and training as the dropoffs can be high. It was exciting to find the dam after all these years of asking rangers if they know about it (they deny it) but the best part of the outing was that we saw a mountain lion in the gully that we were hiking in. When we came around a bend, he (or she) was running through the brush up the side of the wash. It was kind of creepy to think that it might have been sitting there still, watching us hike in the creekbed below. It was my first full-on mountain lion sighting, and Mark's first, too. We reported it at the ranger station before we left the park. Yay!

onward down the creekbed slick rock the cat is watching you slippery when wet

Once back at camp, we spread out our sleeping bags and got ready for dinner. Mom had Spam and we dreamed of a Spam castle in the sky. Nathan had sardines and we wondered if the mountain lions would be attracted to his breath while he slept. Ronna & Mark had nuts and bread. I had a rock. Just kidding, I brought peanut butter and an apple, with M&M's for dessert. Mark had some tequila and a lime, so we had a tiny little after-dinner drink. We wondered if a mountain lion would be attracted by Nathan's 'fish-breath' and thought what it would be like to wake up with a cat sniffing your face. Yipes!! Nathan didn't seem worried, though, and we were all just fine.

Mom, Nathan, and I explored the other LW campsites and checked out the view. I think we found a spot where a cat hangs out because it was churned up like a litter box. Anyway, It was a cool evening and we were bushed from the hike, so we fell asleep quickly under the cover of the stars. It was chilly, but we snuggled and were warm. I woke up a few times and admired Orion as he marched across the sky.

working hard A rewarding view Mom owes me a quarter A chilly night

Next day: Exploring the South Rim and hiking to the Homer Wilson Ranch.

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