Thursday, June 15, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 5

Closed Canyon

Barton Warnock
We headed east the next morning on Hwy 170 with Sam leading aiming for the Big Bend Country. It was good riding with a rolling twisting and scenic road and little traffic. Our first stop was a fantastic cache called “Closed Canyon” with 36 Favorite points. However, it turned into a disaster for me. It was a beautiful narrow canyon with steep sides. Unfortunately I reinjured an Achilles tendon initially hurt hunting last fall. It had taken about 5 months to heal so I was pretty bummed out. Then, when we left I inadvertently didn’t completely close the top of my tail bag and my jacket liner and hat blew out. I didn’t discover the loss until later – the jacket liner much later because we were getting into triple digit temperatures and I wasn’t about to need it.
Our next stop was at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center in the Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Barton was a renowned botanist and professor at Sul Ross State University in Ft. Stockton for 50 years. He was an expert in the flora of the west Texas region. I suppose all of us Warnocks are related if you go back far enough but I don’t know of any close family connection. The center had a lot of interesting exhibits and I wish we had had more time to spend there. We found a cache there and I bought a hat replacing the one I lost.

Rio Grande Canyon
We continued east and entered the Big Bend National Park. We took a side road that led down to the Rio Grande. It was a twisty pretty much all downhill road to the river. Down at the river was the most spectacular part of the park we saw. There was a huge towering wall with an opening through which the river flowed. We enjoyed some lunch there at a shaded picnic table.

I decided to head toward Ft. Stockton while Sam stopped at the National Park Visitor Center. He always buys a hat to commemorate his trip and he wanted to get one there. It was extremely hot (have I mentioned that?) and I stopped for a couple more caches before reaching Ft. Stockton. One was another Warnock cache. This one was in honor of Roland rather than Barton. He was the Texas State Road Maintenance Supervisor from 1927 to 1981 and was responsible for creating many of the road side picnic areas where this cache was located.

I decided to get a couple of caches in Ft. Stockton before going to the motel to get Pecos County out of the way. Two caches I had logged in the park took care of Brewster County. The first Ft. Stockton cache was at a Scout hut. The next was at the Ft. Stockton military cemetery. It was enclosed by a stone wall about 4’ high. I had parked my bike just off the street next to the wall. It was parked in a slight depression making the bike a little more upright that it would ordinarily be with the kickstand down. It was really windy and after retrieving the cache and returning to my bike a big gust of wind blew it right over before I could get on it. While I was trying to figure what to do a big burly kid in a pickup stopped, jumped out, grabbed the front of the bike while I had the back and lifted it right up. Just some slight damage to a windshield mount which cost less than $15.

Sam and I arrived at the same time at the Deluxe Inn. It was an old motel being remodeled. The outside didn’t look like much but the rooms were very nice. A thunderstorm hit just after we checked in and the motel clerk came over and invited us to park our bikes under the walkway roof as well as giving us some rags. She was very thoughtful. We pooled all our quarters and did our laundry here. This was our shortest day with 280 miles, 6 caches and 1 DNF. To be continued.

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