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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HighFive, Dec 8, 2009.
What?!?! That looks like Jiffy Pop popcorn!!
Jiffy Pop on a stick to be exact
Is there any food that can't be made better by cooking it on a stick over a campfire? Nope, didn't think so.
Nothing but the best!
If you're going to camp in the Big Bend, you have to take the long ride up to park headquarters at Panther Junction to select and pay for your "spot". Monty warned me to stay within the 45 mph speed limit on the paved road...as they will ticket you for just 2 mph over! Sure enough, 12 miles ahead we passed a Park Ranger hiding behind a bush with a radar gun.
Anyway, Monty takes care of business and then we ride our pack mules for nearly 1 hour into the back country to his favorite little hidy hole. It was a beauty too....where we were sure to never be interrupted by anyone!
We setup camp in some rather ominous looking weather, then set out to exploring....for the rest of the day. Think we did about 100 miles by dark....rain & all. I can't explain the beauty of this area adequately. Every 10 miles or so, it seems like you've entered a whole different Eco-System. It really starts growing on you....while you get swallowed by the stunning surroundings.
This wall was big....really big. Maybe 1,000 ft tall...
I could easily spend a day exploring this canyon wall on foot. Add that to my Bucket List for next time.
Closer to the Rio Grande River, down near the Village, we find this cool tunnel.
And the view on the other side....well....just takes your breath away!
These last two photos are a progression as Monty rides down the road. Look very hard into the center of the last photo and you can see the tiny black dot in the road....that's Monty. Yeah, its kind of like that. A bit overwhelming. Pictures can never do it justice because you simply don't get the "feeling" that occurs when you're there. But hang in there, we'll keep trying...
We move onward to the River Road down in the desert floor which parallels the Rio Grande. I've heard about all the deep nasty sand before, but honestly, just didn't seem to encounter any of that....seriously. It wasn't hard pack, but I wouldn't hesitate to ride a 950 Adventure or R1200GS down it. But I'm not a Novice pilot, either.
This close to the border....I really wanted to see it. So we did. And look what we found.
That's the Rio Grande behind Monty and you're staring at Mexico over his shoulder. This remnant of an old house or fort was pretty cool. Then, the strangest thing happened. While Monty was hiding in the Fort.
Some Dude comes hiking by us right through the bush...
Can't say where he came from or even where he was going. Just glad I had my camera in hand. What timing eh?
I don't see that every day on my GPS. Just sayin...
Just as we left that spot, there was a guy driving an old beater pickup out of a brushy area. Don't know what that was about. Maybe he was watching us?
We did not ride the whole river road. The western section is where the sand and gravel is. But every time I have ridden it, it was not bad. We were running out of daylight and it was raining so we went up Black Gap road back to pavement. Black Gap is the roughest road in the park, but is not bad either. A good rider could take a 990 or big GS just about anywhere in the national park.
Aaahh yes....Black Gap Trail indeed. What a mighty fine trail it was. Best one I rode in the Park so far. Much more "work" than the other roads....which was a good thing....cause it help "heat" us up. The weather had really taken a turn for the worse. It was windy, rainy, and COLD! The ground was getting slick and sticky at the same time. Just what you bargain for when you're in the Middle of Nowhere.
Returning to camp, we had one of the largest whitetail deer (both body & rack) I've ever seen....strut out into the middle of the road right in front of us. Monty could of spit on him. And I had a Park Ranger argue with me later, that there weren't any Whitetails within 500 miles of the Big Bend, just mule deer only. But what do I know...
Returning to camp, the weather continued to deteriorate further.
And the rains came down....for the rest of the night. Our campsite used to be some kind of old homestead back in the day. There was one dilapidated old shed back in the bushes with a partial tin roof. Looked to be pre-depression era. We took refuge in there while using Monty's reflective safety blanket for a makeshift roof liner.
Somewhere under that pitiful shelter, in the miserable cold rain, I look up at Monty and tell him, "Dude...I need a fire! I can't spend 5 more nights like this without a fire." (Memo to File: Big Bend National Park does not permit campfires)
Monty agrees its a bleak predicament considering the forecast which he checked at the park headquarters when we arrived. This is when Monty drops the biggest bombshell of the entire week. Everybody listen up....
"Well....we could go the the other Big Bend." :huh :huh Say what? There's another one? I never heard of that. Ain't on my map!
Monty says, "Sure thing....its the old Big Bend Ranch that the State of Texas has purchased and turned into a park. Might be even better, at least we can have a campfire there." "Only been open a few years, and only recently for motorcycles. That's right, it used to be No Motorcycles Allowed until about a year ago. Probably haven't been more than a hundred riders see it yet...."
Hhhmmmm.....only 60 miles West, you say. Let's go check it out first thing tomorrow!
Monty agrees, but says we'll have to hurry!
All I can say about the rest of the night is this:
Rise and shine! No biscuits on a stick today. We got to ride.
But whoa pardner....what's wrong with this picture?
Now, I can already tell....this is no doubt My Fault....somehow.
So, can you guess Monty's trade?
Hhhmmm....Think I'll go riding.
At least its not raining. I head on down the trail a good ways...just plunkering along. Take a few photos and enjoy some awesome scenery. That's when I hear someone yelling. Hollering at the top of their lungs. Uh-oh....its Monty. I make a U-turn and backtrack to find him doing something really unusual.
Working on his bike....again!
At least he did get out of camp...but didn't make it a full mile before incurring the flat. Honestly, its awful easy to get a flat out here! Really...Truly. But I didn't.
Well, I can see this is going to be a looooooong day because.....well......we're in a HURRY!
The funniest part is you being packed up and ready to ride at 8am. Don't think I've ever seen that before. Must be a new trick you just learned
Love the watch pics.
It was an amazing feat. I was so stunned, I almost forgot to have a cup of coffee. But it only happened that one morning. Remember the first morning when my bike was all apart? Guess who was ready first. The second morning at the motel? Guess who was ready first. Don't make me bust out the pictures to prove it.
great report and pictures
Man I need get back to visit that area. '97 was the last time I think? R11GSA days.
love the watch shots. First time Monty is "That Guy", we get published photos of it. Love it.
The rest of the morning was spent making the long trek through the West side of Big Bend Nat'l. Park. Passing by Pine Canyon, The Basin, and many other enticing areas begging to be explored (add those to my Bucket List for next time). We push onward through fog, rain, and cold until we finally exit the park into the quaint little town of Study Butte.
Being well overdue for thawing out, we opted for the local hotdog stand for lunch:
:dg Mmmmgood! Nothing quite like Mexican food, right on the Mexican border. I could eat it every day!!
Heading West we make a little detour into the old Ghost Town of Terlingua:
Lots of cool "Old West" stuff here to rummage through. Must have been quite the place....back in the day.
This was the home base for folks working the Chisos Mine....where they were mining Mercury, I think.
But you'll be glad to know we found some nice cabin rentals....should you get a hankering to hang your hat in this old town for a few days:
Now folks....as Monty is my witness....I ain't lyin bout them there Cabin Rentals.
Onward mush, we've got 80 miles to cover to get checked into the "Ranch" before dark. So, we push on through Lajitas, racing along Hwy 170 paralleling the border along the mighty Rio Grande.
*******Special News Flash********
The stretch of Hwy 170 through this area is absolutely one of the prettiest roads I've ever ridden in my life. Huge, gorgeous canyon walls....up & down, full of twisting winding road in immaculate condition. Best of all....no traffic on this day!
I've lived in Montana....gone to the Sun. Ran the Blue Ridge, and even the Chero-Hala Skyway. They are all fabulous. Highway 170 along this southern border of Texas, as crazy as that sounds, is one of the most spectacular I've ever seen. Book it!
We did find a couple of spots along the river to take a nice photo of the border:
These shots are before we got into the really good part of Hwy 170. Not sure why, but we never stopped for a really spectacular photo in the canyons. Oh yeah....it was because we were in a hurry. But this time, we really were.
We did find this one place where we could drop off the road and ride down into the middle of the Rio Grande. This was cool....so being the dashingly daring riders we were, we did it.
As best we could tell, my bike was splitting the border at this point. Then suddenly...without warning Monty exposes his wild side and throws caution to the wind: :eek1
Mercy Sakes...Amigo! Be El Hombre Mas Macho....con Huevos ! ! !
We fill up our supertankers in Persidio, then make a dash for the park in pouring rain. After a long....looong....dirt road ride, we're finally getting closer.
Formerly the headquarters for a series of privately owned ranches, La Sauceda today lies at the heart of Big Bend Ranch State Park. The original ranch was founded in 1884 by William Woodworth Bogel, and with his 3 brothers, they operated a huge Hereford cattle ranch. The Bogel's sold out to Edwin & Mannie Fowlkes in the early 1930's, and the operation gained 500 head of angora goats. They also expanded the land holding to 500 sections of land.
The ranch passed through other ownership a few more times until the Texas parks and Wildlife Department began purchasing it in 1988. Covering nearly 500,000 acres the park is half the size of Rhode Island. But I'm not sure why they like to make that comparison....so far away in south Texas.
No paved roads here. And I didn't see any Park Rangers hiding behind a bush with a radar gun. Though, you really won't want to go very fast as you'll just miss too much fascinating stuff.....like these caves we found along the main road entering the park:
These excellent natural shelters were all over this particular canyon, and appeared to have been the housing for native inhabitants for several primitive centuries.
Wow....the stories these old walls could tell.
This is an amazingly cool area to explore. I could easily spend a day snooping around here. Please add that to my Bucket List...
We were pleased the rain had stopped, at least for a while, as we made our way up to La Sauceda Headquarters.
We quickly agreed (with Ranger input) on some hidden remote campsite and then set out to find it before darkness swallowed us. We made it....just barely. And the rains returned. Cold freezing rain. It pretty much soaked are tents inside out as we setup our camp between two giant rock slabs....hoping for a little wind protection.
Then all we could do was huddle by the fire. But we had FIRE! Just as Monty had promised ! !
And made darn-tootin good use of it...
Aaahh....steak & baked potatoes cooked over real aged mesquite wood. Honestly, it doesn't get any better than this. We almost forgot the weather...almost.
Things were looking up for tomorrow. I had a feeling...
fashionably late (again), but glad to finally be here....
We eventually awoke to greet the lovely weather.
Still cold....still wet. The temperature was a frigid 26 degrees. Before leaving, I had purchased a nifty little thermometer from Aerostitch that snaps onto the handlebar. Now....I'm having to repress my urge to throw that thing into the bushes as far as I could. I've always said "checking the weather brings bad luck".
But we have this really beautiful mountain view from our campsite:
Really....we do...you'll see....maybe.
Monty rises and guarantees me this will be a beautiful day! One we'll never forget. I love his perpetual optimism......cause it works. The rain stops & the sky soon to clear up.
While waiting for the view to improve, we discover some more cool, ancient stuff around our campsite.
Natural spring-fed water tanks
Fancy automated grain feeders
And petrified dead cattle that apparently couldn't find the water or feed only 50 yards away. :huh
The deck is lifting and its almost time to RIDE!
Let's go find out what is hiding over here on "The Other Side of Nowhere".
Some good stuff, Maynard. Some mighty good stuff!
We don't know where we're going. We just keep going....and going!
500,000 acres and we're the ONLY guests on the ranch!
Como se dise' "Total Desolation" Oh...what a feeling!
And there are lots of big hills to climb, if you're so inclined.
With plenty of loose bowling balls to make Monty pucker...
This park is truly a geological wonder. There are all kinds of fascinating rock formations.
Being a Petroleum Engineer by degree, I'm half geologist. And the exposed "details" in this park just blows my mind. A real big volcano once uprooted this area. Turned it over like a farmer's plow. Its kind of like the 8th Wonder of the World (to me).
Late in the afternoon, we decide to search for something called "Madrid Falls". We did an awful lot of rough riding, but I never made it to Madrid. However, Monty did have some success finding the Falls...
What a terrific day! Think the temperature even made it up to 40F. Promising....very promising....
Hey Guys !! Can't wait to hear the rest of this.
High Five had graciously invited me to join him and Monte on this ride.
I opted to go back to Southern Arizona and New Mexico for some unfinished riding. I rode solo down along the border again on my WR250R. I too, had freezing weather a lot---but add 16" of snow to that.
I did make it too a place on the North side of Guadalupe National Park called "DogCanyon"---it was really "BigDog Canyon".
I had tried to go there the last time I was down there.
One more place off my "Bucket List"
well that's another story------please continue with yours.
Thanks guys !!
What an amazing place.
The Chisos Mtns of the national park...
The riding here is better than the national park...
Of course it does not look it, but this was a pretty large hill.
There are a lot of unmaintained roads. Oh yeah!
The rains begin again.
But, it didn't seem to bother these guys.
That is another one of my favorite places. I stumbled across this area a couple of years ago, and have been back several times. Some great riding in the area if you know where to look.