TR-Big Bend NP Family Trip April 1968

I don’t have any notes saved from this trip. I was only nine years old. I really fell in love with Big Bend during that trip; actually, with the whole idea of deserts and mountains. I’d been to Colorado on a family trip a few years earlier and recall being amazed at the mountains and the abandoned mines we saw high up on the slopes; and the scary drives over the unpaved roads along the mountainsides. But for some reason, on our trip to Big Bend something clicked.

I know this trip was around Easter Sunday, in 1968. Looking at a calendar I see that fell on April 14 that year; I’m guessing we were there for the week prior. I don’t think we got spring break in those days, either at my elementary school or for Dad’s job at UT.

I don’t remember the long drive out there on highway 290, although I can assume I was probably getting bored. But to this day I have a vivid recollection of the drive approaching the Chisos, as we began to ascend up The Basin road, past some drums full of water for overheated radiators. I kept staring at the rugged cliffs and thinking “Wow, I wonder what it’s like up there! Wandering around up there would be the greatest thing ever!”

Turns out I was right!

Cabins in the Basin (April 1968)

The Lodge in the Basin was there even back then, but much different than today. The main building with the restaurant was there, but only limited lodging. And a small gas station. We stayed in a cabin; I think it was one of the old CCC cabins but I’m not sure. It was cozy for a young family of four, but I don’t recall spending that much time in it.

Gas station in the Basin
Gas station in the Basin (April 1968)

Aside from the permanently stamped wanderlust the trip had on my young, impressionable mind, I only recall bits and pieces of the trip. I recently came across Dad’s slides, and have scanned most of them, but they don’t trigger many new memories.

One thing about the photos: Dad was a good photographer and very experienced at shooting outdoor exposures, yet all these have a definite overexposed cast to them. So much I had to severely correct them in Lightroom. I wonder if maybe the film was damaged by the heat? Who knows…

Looking down Green Gulch from Lost Mine Peak trail
Mom hiking Lost Mine Peak Trail, Casa Grande background (April 1968)
Lost Mine Peak trail, summit.
My brother (and me, hidden) along the Lost Mine Peak trail (April 1968)

I only vaguely recall the hike up Lost Mine Peak trail; being close to Easter I was sure I would be the one to discover the lost mine. I definitely remember hiking the South Rim; we got a very early (dawn) start. On the way down, my big brother and I left our parents behind and finished before they did. I remember trying to climb that pile of rocks in the middle of the Basin (of course I couldn’t do it).

Me, Mom, starting up South Rim trail
Me, Mom, starting up South Rim trail
Me, Mom, big brother hiking up South Rim
Me, Mom, big brother hiking up South Rim
The Basin from the South Rim trail.
Boot Canyon, the boot, my big brother on the way up to the South Rim (April 1968)
Me and big bro, near Boot Spring (April 1968)

Our slides show that we also hit Santa Elena canyon, which I don’t remember.

I learned about geology. I learned about dikes and sills. About volcanic tuff and igneous rocks.

My brother and I exploring.

Nine years later as a young adult I would make my first “non-family” trip to Big Bend NP; then in the 80s would start regularly visiting the park for camping, hiking, backpacking and exploring.

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