Monday, March 3, 2008
The original plan was to hike the Window Trail , but that was quickly changed due to the cold windy conditions and the smoke from the Odessa fire. So we decided to drive the Old Maverick Road to Santa Elena Canyon and make a loop on the Ross Maxwell scenic drive. What a drive!
I was a little concerned as we turned down the gravel on the Old Maverick Drive as the ranger had warned us that it was a good road but rough in spots. It was a gravel highway by Wyoming standards! As we drove we stopped several times to admire the desert but the first real point of interest was Luna’s Jacal,(pictured above). It was the house of a farmer who raised a large family in it and lived for 108 years! He used irrigation to farm the river bottom, if you want to call it that. Truly amazing.
We continued driving and stopped at a deserted place called Terlingua Abajo. A small group of one room rock farm house long ago abandoned. The place once was the site of irrigations and farming, raising crops for the mercury mines,(The mines were closed in 1943, the land was abandoned as the climate changed. The countryside is filled with collapsed stone houses).
A little further down the road we finally reached Santa Elena Canyon. I think the canyon was used as a backdrop for a John Wayne movie. It hard to believe that across the small river,(Rio Grande), is Mexico. The border here is closed due to a decision from Homeland Security. It is hard to believe that people are proposing a fence along the border. What a shame it would be to destroy the natural beauty. There are two towns on the Mexican side that you used to be able to cross into but the government closed the bridges and even put in tank barricades,(according to a ranger). The small villages lived off the tourists and they now have nothing. It would have been fun to cross into a small village and try our Spanish. Sad.
We hiked a portion of the Santa Elana Trail before returning to our vehicle and driving to Castolon. After purchasing ice cream sandwiches we finished the day by driving along the Ross Maxwell highway. It was one incredible view after another. Mules Ears, Emory Peak, Goat Mountain, the Chicos Mountains, and Elephant Tusk were just s few of the sights. Climbing places everywhere. We took 72 images. One lifetime isn’t enough! Clear skies.