Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Secret Canyon

Big Bend is known for the three great canyons of the Rio Grande.  Santa Elena, Mariscal, and Boquillas are amazing canyons that are worth a visit on foot or by boat.


However there are other canyons in Big Bend that are unknown, little known, or overlooked.  This canyon is one of those.  It is marked on no maps, there is not a trail, and  among the vast desert and its huge neighbors this canyon is lost for all but a few.


I first saw this canyon several years ago when photographing a sunset.  It intrigued me so I decided to hike to it the next trip.  I completed a traverse through the canyon and was quite impressed.  The rocks here were at strange angles.  There were boulders, water crossings, places you had to scamper over rocks, or climb around holes.


Another thing I found when finishing was that the end of this canyon is a mere 100 yards or so from the road.  I know you must be thinking, if the canyon is that close to a road how can people not know it?  Lets just say the entrance does not face the road, so when looking at it it just looks like a small hill.  However if one makes that short walk you see the canyon turn and drop into a very neat looking location.


It has now become a regular stop for me on my trips to Big Bend.  Sure, this canyon pales in comparison to Santa Elena, but if it were in a state park it would be a major attraction.

Here are a few images from the canyon to share some of its secrets.  


The rocks here are folded at an extreme angle and the canyon cut through them in a way that left them pointing at the sky.  The walls are a dark red but the rocks along the wash are almost blue.  Flowers grow in shady and sandy pockets along the path the water takes.  


The canyon also sports several tough water obstacles.  Some require climbing rocks to get around, others require skill balancing on slick rock along the waters edge, and finally some just have to be waded.  Of course, like any canyon, each trip here is different and the canyon is constantly changing.


Of course, as one of the few people who know of this place, I am one of the few to see the changes.  Call that one of the advantages of knowing about the secret canyon.

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