January Memory: Cerro Castellan on the Rio Grande

As another New Year’s Day has arrived this 2015 I dug into my journals to look back. In mid-January 2001 I returned to my then Colorado rental in Grand County to find -19 degrees below zero, my Mercury barely able to start. The restless wander lust bit me like frost bite and I ventured south to Texas for Big Bend National Park. I recall staying overnight roadside near Vaughn NM just freezing, moved on toward Carlsbad. I spent two nights in a tent Brantley Resevoir State Park with some fishermen, a golden eagle, a harrier, white-winged doves, pelicans and meadowlarks. The wind blew hard too. In Carlsbad I entered the Chihuahuan desert zone with sotol, lechuguilla, prickly pear, cholla, yucca and century plants under a soothing warm sun. The elevator took me down into the famous caverns. I entered Texas for my first time in the Guadalupe Mountains-ecstatic over the expanding terrain and comfortable climate. I remember the hike on the El Capitan trail, the mist below in the mesas/valley as I departed the pecan trees and oak mistletoe for the long drive yet to Big Bend. I passed through Van Horn, a Border Patrol blimp on the ground near Marfa and the big town of Alpine. Darkness set in as I pressed onward into Cottonwood Campground, accessed by the Ross Maxwell Road. I awoke the next morning to the view above, sketching this formation to my east amidst the mesquite trees here. In the coming days I toured the Castolon Historic District (old Army post vs Poncho Villa), Santa Elena Canyon, Mule Ears Peaks, the snow-covered Chisos Mountains and Panther Junction Visitor Center. I returned to the Chisos Basin in spring 2002 for hikes up Emory Peak 7825′ and the Window trail pour off, the Hot Springs on the river and Boquillas Canyon in the park’s east side. Pencil drawing.Daley  Art 117

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