Hey friends! If you missed the first post on my Spring Break trip to Big Bend, you can check out my guide to riding the Amtrak. After arriving in Alpine, TX after a 14 hour long train ride we headed to Terlingua, TX to change clothes and then off to Big Bend National Park. Big Bend is one of the most breathtaking places I've seen in my life. I visited the park over three days and could have spent weeks there. It's kind of crazy when you get out to the area it looks like a bunch of nothing and then suddenly you are surrounded by canyons, mountains, gorges and the beautiful Rio Grande river that borders Texas and Mexico.
After changing into hiking clothes and loading up my backpack with water and snacks we made it over to Big Bend to see the Santa Elena Gorge for hike. Make sure you bring a paper map (which you can pick up at one of the many visitor's centers all over the park) because cell service is spotty...at best. Most of the trip I had little service so paper maps are a must. Also, make sure your car is filled with gas as much as possible. Towns are far and few between and mileage isn't the best when you are driving up and down hills and mountains.
We arrived at the base of the hike overlooking the Rio Grande River. You can actually cross the bank on foot and step into Mexico. The mountains block you from actually entering Mexican civilization, but it's kind of cool to just be able to cross into another country. The hike through Santa Elena takes about 2 hours. It's pretty steep and has a zig zag pattern called switchbacks for the first half. It's worth the trek though. Once you step into the gorge the hike gets calmer and you start to go downhill to the river bank.
I opted to wear lightweight layers. This time of year the weather is very dry, but teeters between hot in the sun and cool in the shade. I wore soft cotton olive shorts, a gray tank top and layered a red striped tee over it with long sleeves. Another must is to bring hats, sunglasses and sunblock. I have never been a big sunblock wearer (I know, skin cancer might be around the corner) but I did wear it most of the trip. When you are out in the blazing desert, it's easy to get a sunburn. Since I was camping in a tent with little places to find amenities there was NO way I was taking chances on a sunburn.
Another must is to bring hiking boots. I have two pairs and brought both along. I've found over the years and with the amount of walking I've done, changing shoes keeps you from having blisters. I wore these on the first day and another pair on latter hike two days later. When selecting hiking boots look for lightweight and comfort. I also like the higher top style since they provide ankle support when stepping over rocks. Finally, you'll want to make sure they have grip. Very important when going over uneven terrain. The drive and hike took around 4 hours to get back to Terilingua at the campsite and was perfect after a long train ride.