Sunday, May 8, 2016

Snow in the Chisos

After driving for 14 hours through snow, I arrived in Big Bend and set up my tent on snow.  It was cold and windy but I knew the snow would begin to melt the next morning.  The sky was rapidly clearing and the forecast for a sunny day.  My plan was for a sunrise at Santa Elena Canyon and then to go to the Chisos, hoping the higher elevations of the mountains would both have made more snow as well as have it last longer.

At sunrise I was at Santa Elena Canyon and while it was not a winter wonderland there was some snow on the cliff walls of the Sierra Ponce.  I photographed the sunrise and then it was off to the Chisos.

The snow was a good 6" deep up around the mountains and there were many stops to be made on the drive.  This was the first time I have been in Big Bend with this much snow and I wanted to make the most of the opportunity.

So it was several stops.  The western ramparts of the mountains made for some great images with the snow on the walls, the peaks, and on the cactus and yucca of the desert.

It was finally mid-morning before we actually got up to the Chisos proper.  It was probably a good thing as the park service had closed the road overnight into the Basin.  It is a steep and winding road and was probably icy.

As we ascended into the mountains the snow got deeper.  The high one goes the more trees grow and they were covered in snow!  Where the leaves peaked out I saw that they were in full fall color too!

The week after Christmas and it is the peak of fall color in Big Bend plus a fresh snowfall!  
I could not believe my luck.

The stops became more frequent.  Every pullout was used as we drove into the Basin.  The views were amazing.  The clouds were rapidly disappearing and the sun shown bright in a clear blue sky.

There were images everywhere.

After what seemed like an instant we finally got into the Basin and it was 1:30 in the afternoon.  The snow was rapidly melting and we were hungry since we skipped breakfast to be out in the snow, so it was off to the lodge for a cheeseburger.

After warming up, a burger, and looking over a few images on the camera, we made our way back out of the Basin.  Already the snow was much diminished from the morning and by the time we got back to Cottonwood the snow was all but gone there.

Luck had been with us and we had seen a great winter event here in the desert.