NaturaLu Excursions: The 52 Hike Challenge 2021: Hike 4 and 5

It’s been a long, yet amazing week. I went to a meditation retreat for the last few days and it was just the experience I needed to start the new year. While the focus of the retreat was on meditation and learning to be our higher selves, we experienced an amazing time surrounded by nature. You know I was happy!

The retreat was settled in the Lajitas Golf Resort in Lajitas, Texas. We were nestled between Big Bend National Park and the US/Mexico Border at the Rio Grande. Y’all…the landscape alone was enough to be immersed in. I saw some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, not to mention it was pitch black at night! It was just an amazing spirit in the air. I will make that 7.5 hours drive again for those views alone.

Taken at Panther Junction Vistor Center, Big Bend National Park
Orion constellation in the middle. This area is also know for it’s “Oasis of darkness.”

Hike 4: Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park

On the second day of being in Lajitas, we traveled mid-morning into Big Bend National Park. A few quick facts about Big Bend. IT’S HUGE! Big Bend is 1,252 mi² and 801,163 acres! It borders the Rio Grande for 196 miles. Before we completed the drive to Santa Elena Canyon, we stopped at Sotol Vista off the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. From there you can see several points of interest, including the canyon creating a wide-open space in the middle of the backdrop. Santa Elena Canyon is split in half, with the north side in the US (Texas) side and the south side in Mexico (Chihuahua) side. While it is not tall in comparison to the peaks in the area, it sits at 1,500ft. The trail itself is short, going about a mile in, for two miles round trip. It’s great for all hikers and gives a bit of a challenge in the beginning climb to the trail. But nothing you can’t do!

Walking towards the trail. Santa Elena Canyon.
Looking at the Rio Grande and Mexico.
Southeast side of Santa Elena Canyon.

It was fun to hear people call out into the canyon, hearing the sound travel throughout. We stopped for a bit eat lunch and take photos before turning back. On the way back, we saw a pack of javelinas heading towards the riverbank, before they realized several humans were nearby, and turned around back into the shrubbery. While this was a very short hike for me, it was worth it. To see something so grand formed in nature and recognizing the strength that water holds. Truly a moment in time, I will never forget.

Inside the canyon, you can see the end of the trail in far right.

Hike 5: Mesa de Anguila Trail, Big Bend National Park

Entering the trailhead.

On the third day of the retreat, we had some downtime, so what better to do than find a trail close by! There were a few trails nearby, some walking distance and some a brief drive up or down the road. We decided to take on the walking distance one. With no map available, we followed the directions one of the resort’s porters suggested earlier. This ended up being the Mesa de Anguila Trail. Fun fact about this trail, it leads to the same range that Santa Elena Canyon cuts through several miles down. Due to time, we didn’t trek the actual mountain but reached its base and turned around. I found this trail map after the fact, but it appears the trail is about 8 miles to Santa Elena itself. We were able to complete 3.4 miles to and from the resort. I would love to venture into this trail the next time I visit.

Mesa de Anguila.
Mesa de Anguila behind me.

Overall, though both hikes were short, I love that I was able to have this experience. Big Bend is a magical place and I look forward to another trip in the future. I will probably try to be there for about 5 days. The park does offer suggestions on what trails/ranges to visit depending on the time of your stay. So if this is on your list, be sure to check out the suggestions and plan accordingly!

I was thankful for this landscape as well, as it was reminiscent of my childhood home in the High Desert in Southern California. It even has creosote bushes. If you have never smelled those in the air, you are missing out! Desert life isn’t always loved by many people, but it has its own defined beauty and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata)

Until the next adventure…

Lindsey

The amazing sunset on our last night there.
Lajitas Golf Resort

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