Hiked through the Gap of Dunloe today. We started at Kate Kearney's Cottage and walked past a string of mountain lakes to the Head of Gap (the mountain pass at the head of the valley drained by the River Loe). From there, a gentle descent brought us to the floor of the Black Valley where we picked up the Kerry Way heading for Lord Brandon's Cottage where we had lunch. Then we boarded a small open boat for a trip across the Lakes Of Killarney--Loch Uachtarach, Loch Mhucrois, and Loch Lein. This photo was shot after we left Loch Uachtarach ("Upper Lake") and were cruising on the Long Range River on the way to the Meeting of the Waters. The slopes of Torc Mountain rise in the background.
Arrival in Dublin 45 minutes early on the Aer Lingus Airbus A-330 "St. Patrick" from Chicago. It's overcast here with intermittent light rain--a soft day as they say. Forecast is for improving weather tomorrow, then five days with 0% chance of rain. I'll take that.
The town of Fort Davis in only about 30 minutes from Alpine. We stopped for an hour and a half there to visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site (one of the units of the National Park System). The old post hospital has just been restored and is now open to the public. Here's the post hospital backed by the rocky pinnacles of the Davis Mountains.
Beautiful morning in Alpine, Texas. Spent last night at the Holland Hotel after a great dinner at Reata Restaurant. This morning enjoyed a great breakfast at Judy's Bread and Breakfast (compliments of the Holland Hotel). We're heading back to El Paso today.
"Luna's Jacal." The remains of the shelter built by Gilberto Luna, an early homesteader in the region. This site is on the Old Maverick Road, twelve miles of improved gravel road leading from the park's west entrance station to the Santa Elena Canyon.
The Rio Grande emerging from the Santa Elena Canyon.
Ocotillo in bloom above the Rio Grande at the mouth of Santa Elena Canyon. It's a short 1.8 mile round trip hike into the canyon from the parking area.
The Rio Grande as it emerges from the Santa Elena Canyon (taken from inside the canyon looking out). The Chisos Mountains rise in the distance.
The old store at Castolon. Time for an ice cream break!
Left the Chisos Basin this morning by vehicle to drive around to the Sam Nail Ranch on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive from where we hiked back to the Chisos Mountains Lodge via the Oak Springs and Windows trails. On the drive out of the Chisos Basin we were treated to this view of the Chisos Mountains in the morning sunshine.
Rocky spire seen from the Oak Springs Trail.
Ascending the Oak Springs Trail. The trail climbs in a series of switchbacks to a point above the Window then descends to meet the Window Trail above the Window "pour off."
Above the Window.
Claret cup cacti in bloom!
The Window "pour off." The waters draining the high Chisos Basin funnel through this narrow gap to drop to the desert flats below.
The group at the Window.
Looking back at the Window as we neared the end of the hike at the Chisos Mountains Lodge. About 7.5 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain today.
We are lodging tonight in Van Horn, Texas en route to Big Bend National Park. We're enjoying the comfort of the Hotel El Capitan, a 1930s era hotel designed by the West Texas architect Henry C. Trost. The hotel has been beautifully restored...the crown jewel of quiet and otherwise unassuming Van Horn, Texas.
Dinner in the hotel restaurant. Here's my meal: roasted pork tenderloin with raspberry chipotle sauce on a bed of jasmine rice with green beans. Along with this, a glass of Texas wine--a 2009 Sangiovese made by Val Verde Winery in Del Rio, TX. Wow!
The lovely lobby of the Hotel El Capitan.
Reading material in the lobby of the Hotel El Capitan.
Visited the Chamizal National Memorial this morning. It's a unit of the National Park System in El Paso, Texas. The memorial commemorates the 1963 settlement of the Chamizal border disupte between the United States and Mexico. The changing course of the Rio Grande which forms the boundary between the U.S. and Mexico was the cause of the dispute. This is a mural on the walls of the visitor center at the Chamizal National Memorial.
Old boundary marker between the U.S. and Mexico. Prior to the Chamizal settlement of 1963, the land to the right of the marker was part of the Cordova "island," part of Mexico that was nearly surrounded by the United States. Today the land to the right of the marker is part of the United States.