Boquillas Hot Springs
Day two of our Big Bend trip started with a short hike to the Boquillas Hot Springs. I didn’t go into the water, but my two friends did and enjoyed the relaxing waters. I did pop on the ND filter and made a few long exposures of the water. They turned out okay, but there weren’t too many cool bubbles in the river to make it interesting. Still, it was fun to give it a try, and as a warm up for later since I planned to take some long exposures at Santa Elena Canyon.
I had brought my swimming trunks, but I decided I didn’t want to get wet that morning, plus I had gone into the hot springs on our last trip, so it was kind of a “been there, done that” thing.
Boquillas del Carmen, Mexico
Next up was a highlight of the trip: a visit to the Mexican town of Boquillas del Carmen. To get there, you park at the Boquillas Crossing, then check in with the rangers at the border crossing office. They check to make sure you have your passports, then give you a few tips and a run-down of the rules and what to expect, what items are prohibited to bring back, etc.
After that, it’s a short walk to the ferryman who will shuttle you across the Rio Grande in a rowboat. The cost is US $5 for the round-trip boat ride.
Once on the Mexican shore, you have a choice of transportation options to the town: burros, horses, car, or walk. Of course we chose the burros! At US $5 (round-trip), it seemed like the most memorable and fun, and we weren’t disappointed. My burro was pretty feisty, but nothing scary, and I enjoyed the ride a lot. So fun!
The burro ride was maybe 15 minutes long, and then we walked into town proper. You’ll have a “guide” who takes you to the customs office where we paid a US $2 fee, and then he took us on a walking tour of the small town.
It was about lunchtime so we went to the main restaurant, José Falcon’s for some beer and food. The guac and salsa were delcious, and the tamales were yummy as well. I wouldn’t say the food was spectacular, but we were pretty hungry and it hit the spot.
After lunch, we said goodbye to our guide (and tipped him) before returning to the U.S. via burro and boat. Here are some more photos of Boquillas del Carmen:
Lost Mine Trail
Next up was the Chisos Basin and our long hike on the Lost Mine Trail. This trail is rated as one of the best in the park but we weren’t sure if we’d have enough time to finish it since it gained a lot of elevation from the trail-head to the summit. But after about a half-hour into the hike, we knew that we’d have to complete it. Everyone coming down said that the view from the top was amazing which definitely spurred us on. Actually, the trail up and the many switchbacks gave us some wonderful views of the park and we even saw some roadrunners along the trail.
Arriving at the top, we were rewarded by a spectacular view. I mean, it was truly awe-inspiring and made the tough uphill hike all worth it. We were fortunate to reach the summit when the light was particularly beautiful and the clouds were making the sky interesting and Casa Grande and Emory Peak in the distance made for a memorable view.
When I visited Big Bend last time, the Lost Mine Trail was closed because of bears, so I was very happy to have the chance to hike the trail this time. I knew that if the vacation ended right then, it would have still been a great trip!
Astrophotography at Robbers Roost
When we left the trail, the sun was going down and we had planned to camp in the back country (make sure you get a permit from the visitor’s center beforehand!), which involved several miles of mild off-road driving, so we were eager to make good time. Robbers Roost was the name of the campsite we chose, and when we arrived, we found that we were the only campers there!
After a satisfying dinner of sausage links, potato salad, and chips & salsa, it was time for some serious astrophotography before the moon made its appearance.
The sky was incredible, and we saw a few shooting stars which was really cool. I even managed to make a short time-lapse of the moonrise:
One new technique that I tried was star trails. I’m very pleased at how my first try turned out:
It was an amazing day at Big Bend National Park. A long one for sure, with lots of hiking and good food, but completely satisfying. 😌