Saturday, November 10, 2012

Dog Canyon hike with my friend, Mary

"...and the meek shall inherit the earth".

Next March will mark my fifth year of living here in the Big Bend area of the Chihuahuan Desert. I have observed the four seasons and the ebb and flow of the different weather patterns. The flowering of the desert cactus during the months of March, April, and May. The small bit of rain that arrives with the summer months of June through September and also the accompanying scorching heat that also arrives during those same months. The small bit of cold that usually is felt for brief moments in February or March. I have experienced the recent drought from August 2010 until March 2012.

All of the above mentioned moments usually garners alot of attention. However, there are the small and at times inconspicous tiny flowering wildflowers that appear throughout the year. Regardless of the weather or drought or burning heat. Those are among my most favorite of residents that I have found while residing here in the desert. I purchased a Canon T2i DSLR camera and macro lens for the express purpose of capturing these tiny and meek neighbors that share with me this Big Bend region.

Trailing Windmills. The first tiny flower I encountered on the trail not two feet from the parking lot . 
Today, my friend, Mary Paloma, and I went on a hike into Dog Canyon within the Big Bend National Park. There I was able to find some of these tiny friends and take their photo so that I and others could enjoy their beauty.

A low growing cactus near the trail head
We started out early this morning so that we could do the hike and be out of there before it would begin to heat up too terribly much.  Mary picked me up at my place at 7:30am and after a brief stop at the nearby Big Bend Cafe to get a breakfast burrito and water we started out on our mini adventure. I was very eager to get some photos of some of the wildflowers. Due to problems with my feet this past summer, (I seemed to have developed what is called, peripheral neuropathy, due probably to a medication I had taken to alleviate my Crohn's disease) I have been unable to really get out and do any amount of hiking or exploring in the desert. So today would be my first venture in hiking since about January of this year. I had been hearing reports from guests at the resort where I work at the front desk about all the wildflowers sprouting up in various areas of the National Park and surrounding areas. So I was more than eager to discover this for myself.

I was not disappointed. It was an hour and a half to the Dog Canyon trailhead and so we passed the time chit-chatting and enjoying the beautiful weather and sunshine. We arrived at the trailhead, parked. The moment that we stepped onto the trailhead I began to encounter wildflowers and color. Mary laughed because of that and the fact that I had barely begun the hike and I was already kneeling down and getting personal with the flora of the desert.

Mock Vervain
The hike is wonderfully level with only a few moments when you are climbing a few feet down a bank or up out of the wash onto the bank.  The hike is about, Mary figured, 1.9 miles one way.  But with the oncoming heat, this being my first time doing a major hike since recovering from my illness, and Mary having just done her morning ritual of practicing for the upcoming marathon in February, we were both feeling a bit worn. And we still had to hike the way back. No taxis here to return us to the car. We didn't even stop to rest because I think we were afraid that if we did stop and sit to rest that there would be no getting back up onto our feet. So we returned to hiking back out of the canyon towards the vehicle.

As we were eventually dragging Mary and I played a word game called, "The Minister's Cat". That swallowed up about five minutes so then we began a monologue with imaginary alter egos which brought us finally to the parking lot. It was so nice to finally sit down.

I did gather some nice photos of the wildflowers. Enjoy.

This wonderful fiery red wildflower

Dog Canyon in the distance and our destination today.

Just this wonderful dusty blue tiny flower along the bank of the wash we were hiking.

A little breeze and I had to hold this little one still for the photo.

Our approach to Dog Canyon. We were about to be dwarfed by the height of the canyon walls on either side.

Dog Canyon

The last wildflower we encountered before the return hike back to the parking area.
All of the tiny flowers that I encountered today and in days and years past while living here have impressed upon me an irony. The tiny things here survive more than the large things. I feel that in our culture we think of tough things being large things. Large men and women are tough from having to survive in the past as pioneers. Our culture promotes the idea that tiny things are weak and large is the tougher option. I beg to differ. Here I have watched large yuccas and trees wither from the heat. While along the road and out in the desert alone and surrounded by dust and sun baked earth there are these unbelievably tiny flowers in such beautiful displays of color surviving.

Have a beautiful day and don't forget to look down every once and awhile to discover the tiny things.



MsBelinda said...

Thank you for virtually taking me along on your hike. The wildflowers are beautiful.

Would love to go hiking but my fear of snakes is something I am going to have to overcome :(

Charlton said...

I know how that goes. I have a fear of spiders. However, tarantulas are the exception to the rule. I will get close enough to take photos but I still don't enjoy it when I come up on them all of a sudden. You fear of snakes is okay. I carry a walking stick for that very reason. I like non poisonous snakes but am very alert for rattlers. The walking stick I use to sweep the bushes or grass in front of me while I'm walking etc.