Campsite 95 has been home for my longest stop of the trip yet. I remember pulling into the campground last Thursday and immediately seeing two javalina just a few spots up. Boy, I was so nervous to fall asleep that night with all of the warning signs around the park. There are no lack of pictures posted in the park depicting javalinas ripping up tents to get whatever’s inside. Now it’s a week later and I survived the dreaded thoughts of night-time invasion. One other semi-nightly occurence was the celebration that could be heard when the local campground coyotes scored a kill. I didn’t know why they made so much noise, for a minute or two, and then abruptly stopped. I was informed by Don’s wife, Jenny, that they do that after catching some prey and then I guess they go silent because they’re eating. One night the pack sounded as if they were no more than 100 feet from my tent. Talk about loss of sleep. More than a few people reassured me that they do not prey on humans, unless they are very small humans, like children. One of the campground store clerks told me a story about a woman shopping in the store and noticing a coyote running across the parking lot with a small dog in its mouth. The woman said “That coyote has someones dog in its mouth!” The store clerk spoke up and said “Mam, that’s your dog.” The woman went berserk. It turns out that her toy poodle escaped from its little circle wire fence and the coyote slowly approached it in a submissive fashion, so that the poodle would get close. Right at the last second the coyote snatched the poodle and darted for the bushes. I’m sure we can all imagine the fate of that poor little dog. I had no idea that coyotes would be so cannibalistic. It’s very sinister to picture how that situation would go down. The store clerk said that small dogs are preyed upon by coyotes and javalina fairly commonly in the park. If you come to Big Bend and you bring your young children or small pets, do no take your eye off of them for a second. It’s a real wild world down here.
The agenda for the day was to move camp from Rio Grande village and ride 20 miles north in the park to Chisos Mountain campground. I just wanted to crawl out of my tent at least one time and wake up to that amazing view. I also planned to hike the Emery Peak trail when i got there. First though, I had some chores to do. Laundry was at the top of the list. I was down to my last pair of clean socks and we know that’s where I draw the line. The campground store also has a laundry mat and shower room attached. Busting out the laundry in the morning took a good chunk of time, so to be efficient, I knocked out another post, while waiting. One fella that I’d been chatting with came up that morning to get online and he brought a large map of Texas to give to me. He said “I figured you would be up here.” He also took the time to help me plan my distances per day and times that it would take to travel for the next few days. An hour or so later the laundry was done and I began packing up camp. It took a little extra time since the Goose started out the day nekked. I painted the cargo rack again and bolted up the side boxes and trunk. By that time the Emery Peak trail was out of the question. It’s a four and a half mile trip one way and there was no way to walk 9 miles before dark. Finally Rio Grande Village was in the rear view mirrors and I was on my way to the Chisos camp. I found a spot with a perfect view that was right across the way from a restroom, popped up the tent, and made a short hike to the Chisos store for a snack. I still wanted to hike some sort of trail while here since it was to be my last day in the park. The store clerk recommended the Lost Mine trail. It’s about 2 miles one way and I had just enough time to do it before the mountain blocked the sun. Off I went, on my way to the trail head. I was pumped to finally do some hiking in this rugged landscape. My excitement quickly dissipated when I read the sign at the beginning of the trail. It said something like “You are entering mountain lion and bear country. Bears have been encountered at close range on this trail. If you encounter a bear or mountain lion, do not show fear (yeah right), do not crouch or run, make yourself look larger than normal, (maybe I could stick my thumb in my mouth and pump up my biceps), keep moving and do not linger, shout and throw stones at the animal, and report your sighting to a ranger as soon as possible. With that information in my head, it made the hike up the trail pretty unnerving. My pictures came out horrible, because I didn’t take any time to set up the shots. Didn’t want to linger ya know and the whole time I was thinking about a mountain lion jumping off a rock and landing on me so fast that I wouldn’t have time to shoot it with my bear spray. I was much more worried about a big cat than a bear even though both aren’t to fun to deal with in close quarters. Think about how even a little domesticated house cat will hideout waiting to ambush its owner or the family dog. Now picture a huge version of that attack. A man wouldn’t stand a chance. Folks around here keep saying that I don’t need to worry about the animals due to the extremely low odds of an encounter, and I tell them that people win the lottery all the time, and those odds are also extremely low. Needless to say I hiked about two miles round trip and was on high alert the whole time. In moments like that it would be nice to have someone to hike with to take the edge off. Al least I could attempt to outrun my fellow hiker. Joking. The rest of the day was spent waiting for the sun to go down. Finally a perfectly clear night was upon us and the stars were guaranteed to give us Big Benders a show, and a show it was. Never in my life have I seen stars so dense and clear. I stayed up for about two hours star gazing before retiring to the tent.