South Rim of the Chisos

As part of my spring trip to Big Bend I had planned to do an overnight backpack to the south rim of the Chisos.  The south rim is high in the back country and sits about 2000' over the desert below.

I wanted to camp there on the rim and photograph, sunset, the Milky Way and the sunrise from the rim.

Many people day hike the rim from the Basin, but is is 14-17 miles depending on the route.  We planned to spend the night in SW4 which is very close to the rim.  Now for an overnight in the Chisos Mountains, we planned on carrying two gallons of water each.  That was for being gone just 24 hours.  We hit the trail about 1030am, hiked, camped, photographed, and hiked out getting back to the trailhead at 1030 the next day.  We came back empty.  

Bivy Sack and Sleeping Bag
Now 2 gallons of water is 17 pounds.  That was the bulk of my weight carried.  It was heavy going up but gone going down.

The 7 miles to SW4 took about 3 hours.  We are strong hikers and made it there with a few breaks.  It stayed clear and with the dry desert air we drank a lot of water.

At camp, I set up my bivy sack and sleeping bag.  On these single night trips, I forego a tent and carry the much lighter (and smaller) bivy sack.  Some people might just sleep on the ground, but this is Texas.  Between, snakes, scorpions, skeeters, and ticks, I want netting between me and them.  The bivy has that, although there is little room in them.

We watched the sun go down, had supper, drank water to stay hydrated and fell asleep looking up at the stars above.

South Rim Sunset
I was up about 0330.  It was chilly.  I put on my jacket, grabbed the gear and went to the rim.  The Milky Way was shining over the sky.  I set up along the rim and made shot after shot.  I did some light painting and then some without.

The vast distance is so dark, I might be on the edge of the planet staring off into space.

As the dawn approached I prepped for sunrise.  There were still basically no clouds and I did what I could with the light I had.

It was still amazing to watch.

After that it was back to camp, a granola bar, a liter of water and then packed up for the trip down.  We were on the trail about 0845 and in the parking lot at 1030.  Just in time for lunch in the lodge in the Basin.  A plate of enchiladas and a big glass of water!

What a way to end the trip!


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