January, 2011: The Big Bend Ultra 10k, Slickrock, Stillwell, and the Tornillo Hoodoos

Click on the small pictures to see larger ones.

Ready to hike! Running a 10k for the Big Bend Ultra sounded like such a good idea and a way to enjoy the park in a whole new way! And of course, it would be a chance to bring family members together once again. The trip started with Nathan driving to Midland to pick up Mom. She arrived just on time and we put one last piece of luggage in the car. Nathan emailed Ronna, Mom has boarded the Camry and we are on our way!” Nathan and Mom made comments like, "Can you believe we are driving to Big Bend" and "It feels so good to be driving together for another Big Bend trip." It was non-stop to Marathon to meetup with Ronna and Mark, the final two people for this trip. Although others wanted to go, life circumstances came up that made it difficult. But we thought about them all time during the trip.

Dinner in Marathon was at the Famous Burro which is a yummy place for dinner and lucky for us, they had 2-for1 burgers that night. They also have shuffleboard which is fun to play and Mark thoroughly beat us all, despite multiple attempts to bring him down. We rented the Carriage House expecting to have more people but we made do with four.

That night we finalized our hiking route, logged waypoints in the Geepster, and opened up a box from Cheryl. She sent lots of neat ribbons to hand out to each other during the trip, such as, “Best breakfast,” “Best navigator,” “Heaviest Pack,” and “Prettiest Walk.” She also sent some delicious cookies and roasted walnuts. But off to bed we went, our last night in a comfy bed. The next morning, mom made us all eggs and toast, and we loaded up the minivan Ronna rented. We left Nathan's car at the Marathon Motel, so we could all ride together.

Carriage House in Marathon Mom cooking breakfast Planning our trip an ex-tarantula

Mom & Ronna hiking Slickrock entrance Mom resting Slickrock exit

We arrived at the trailhead of Slick Rock and lifted out packs to our backs and headed out into the desert. This trail is very flat and follows a streambed the entire way, and Nathan made sure with the GPS that we stayed on the right stream. All of the pretty rocks made for good hunting but careful footing was necessary in places because some rolled pretty easily. Walking through Slick Rock canyon is pretty neat. The walls are high and when the right angle presents itself, the stone on the bottom glistens like water in the sun. We only saw one place for water the entire hike but it was a little green so we decided to leave it for the animals. We were prepared for this though and it did not stop us from making a great Tortellini soup for dinner that night. We found the earthen water tank, setup two tents, and went for twilight hike halfway through the canyon. Halfway through started to get creepy so we turned around. We spotted animal bones and Ronna found a javelina skull.

Crusty orange stuff (?) Pretty rock, but is it the prettiest? Slickrock view Smooth rock in Slickrock

Camping site Before dinner Cooking dinner Ronna's special tortellini soup

Darkness came and so did a light wind, which we had felt pretty much all day. By the time we were all in our tents the wind speed started picking up. Our tents were held down by rocks as the stakes could not make it through the steam bed and that night our tents shock and flapped loudly. At one point while laying down Nathan leaned up against the side and was sort of rocked back and forth by the side of tent flexing in the wind. It was cold the next morning but luckily, everyone was prepared for that and out came the hats, gloves, and jackets. We ate a quick but warm breakfast and broke camp.

Cold breakfast Bundled up! Happy Nathan Hike to warmth!

Next day: Big Bend Ultra 10k

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