Old Maverick Road
Spent some of the morning doing laundry and catching up with email at the Rio Grande Store. We then took a walk along the Rio Grande Nature trail – a mile walk through a swampy area then up a hill through mostly cacti to a hilltop view of the Rio Grande. Along the way we saw a great blue heron, blackbirds, ducks, a desert hare, and a roadrunner. The javelina herd was along the water grazing — we noted one baby in the group.
We stopped at the Rio Grande Visitors Center to pick up a backcountry permit so we could camp at some of the dispersed locations. The “rangers” at the desk looked to see which backcountry sites were available and assigned us to Terlingua Abajo (TA) for two nights and Croton Springs for one. Even backcountry sites have a reservation system to keep multiple groups from showing up and wanting to camp in the same limited space.
In order to reach TA we headed west on the paved park road and south on the Old Maverick Road, a washboardy, but mostly good, gravel road. Along the way there were many views of the Chisos Mountains and the terrain changed to look much more like the badlands of North Dakota. The turnoff for TA was an excellent road for a while and then deteriorated into a mess. Not quite the description read to us by the “ranger” at the visitors center: Narrow gravel road suitable for all vehicles. Unfortunately, by the time it turned into a mess there was no going back as there was no turnaround. Once we had descended the hill into the basin, we found a pleasant campsite near the Terlingua Creek.
Near our campsite we were surprised to see some equipment stored by a group doing willow planting as a way of restoring the environment present along the creek before man changed it (TA was a native farming area). The surprise was the name of the group: Fred Phillips Consulting. At first we thought this might be a project run by our good friend: Hydrologist Fred Phillips of NM Tech, but it turned out there is another Fred Phillips in AZ who works in wet land reclaimation.
As it was warmer than any night so far, we were able to cook outside (on a gas grill as fires are not permitted) and enjoyed the sunset and later, stars.