Our last full day at Big Bend, our plans included hiking the Oak Springs Trail and the Santa Elena Canyon. In between the two, we would again eat smushed fried turkey sandwiches. We used the last of the turkey to make our lunches that day, and we were satisfied with the timing of it! It had been a cold night, and we heard from a ranger that this night was going to be the coldest with lows expected of 26 degrees. We weren’t worried about it that morning because it was a beautiful day. It was a bit windy and maybe a little cloudy, but we were prepared with our jackets.
The Oak Springs Trail veers off of the Window Trail. My brother-in-law Clay said we should park a car at the end of the trail so we would have a 5 mile hike instead of a 10 mile hike. We agreed wholeheartedly. After getting the cars where they needed to be, we started down the Window Trail once again. The kids were jovial for a while, but we could sense the weariness of the last day of hiking settling in.
After about two miles, the Oak Springs Trail veers up and edgy. I watched the children ahead of me hiking gingerly on the edge of this mountain. It seemed that as the mountain edge steepened, the wind picked up speed. As we climbed, the air became chilly. Our youngest was crying, and as Matt put her on his shoulders I saw that her hands were red from the cold. I hadn’t realized it was that cold because I was carrying a lot of water and I had layered up well. I dug in my pack for her gloves and they weren’t there! All we could find was my husband’s extra shirt. So we wrapped her in it and kept climbing. Finally, we reached the top of the mountain where the trail turns and weaves back down the other side. I don’t have any photos of this. I think we were too cold. The kids had all plopped down right near the edge with red cheeks and sad faces. They were cold and pooped.
I sat down also feeling a bit defeated. I didn’t want the last day to be this way. My sister-in-law Mattea looked at me and said, “Oh! I have just the thing!” She pulled a bunch of lollipops from her bag, and everyone’s countenance changed. They were actually Dum-Dums. I’m sorry but I have always thought it was pretty dumb that they are named Dum-Dums. Anyways, this is a good hiking tip! Carry some candy with you. You never know when you might need a little pick-me-up. Suckers in hand, we began our descent. It was pretty steep, but going down is always a lot faster than going up. The desert view was lovely, and it seemed to go on and on and on. I was content to be on this hike. I finally stopped and got out the camera.
We were on the last part now, and everyone had perked up. It was warmer again too since we had lost altitude and the sun was out. Plus, we finally saw evidence of Oak Springs!
Towards the end of the trail, we cross the springs and there was a lovely large tree that had twisty branches begging to be climbed. We stopped here for a little play time. We also saw that this was the trail head for Cattail Falls. We were tempted to go up, but decided to stick with our plan.
We moved on from our new favorite tree, and began the end of the hike. It was a gorgeous view, and we could see the Window in the distance. It was fun to be on the other side of it this time! The wind picked up as we reached our cars. It was a chilly wind, and the kids were tired of it. We put them all in the car and gave them their lunch to eat out of the wind. The four adults stood at the back of the van and shoved our food in. We were ready to get on the road to Santa Elena Canyon. It was a bit of a drive from where we were, and we were ready for a wind break ourselves.
To be continued…