Day 1: 5 mile hike up to a ridge on the west side of the Chisos Mtns.
This is a view south into Juniper Canyon
The residents of the Mexico village Boquillas, just across the river, craft these wire sculptures and leave them at this popular overlook in the park for tourists to take and leave a donation in a can. While we were sitting watching the sunset, a man walked up to the display and checked on the can of money. We realized he was a Mexican resident of Boquillas coming to collect the money from the art display. There was a sign explaining that the money collected was being used for the local school in Boquillas. This practice, however, is illegal and tourists are encouraged not to take the items and leave money. Oddly enough, the park staff is aware of this situation and has offered to legally buy these crafts directly from the Boquillas residents, pay them 3 times the amount they are sold for along the river, and then the park turns around and sells them in the gift shops. For some reason though, the illegal displays remain.
Day two: Another 5 mile hike into a narrow canyon along the eastern border of Big Bend to a feature called Ernst Tinaja. (Tinaja means "tiny cup")
The geology in this area was fascinating.
Following, is a nice selection of plant life common to the region:
Two of the most common species: Prickly Pear cactus, above, and Strawberry Tibayalitayascmapaya cactus, below. (I actually can't remember it's name, but it's strawberry something.) This stuff was everywhere, from the lowlands along the Rio Grande at 1800 ft to the highest areas in the Chisos Mtns at 7000 ft.
Another of the most common plants: Yucca
This is either a Cow-Crippler or a Horse-Crippler. Wicked little buggers, aren't they!?
Just reason # 5,479 why thou shall not go barefoot in the desert.
Ressurection Fern. I didn't get a chance to witness the ressurection, but apparently, when it rains, this fern collects the water and turns a beautiful bright green the following day. Then, promptly, it goes back to it's usual brown.
Hectia. This interesting plant is all about disguise. There is another similar-looking plant, lecheguilla, that looks just like it except without the red coloring, that contains a nuero-toxin which prevents animals from eating it. Hectia does not contain this neuero-toxin and, thus, is edible to animals; however, by mimicking lecheguilla, which animals know is dangerous, it attempts to trick them and scare them away to prevent itself from becoming lunch.
We hiked up and out the east side of the canyon, then followed a faint trail up the eastern slope back up to the top of the ridge which the canyon slices through. This is the view down into the canyon we hiked through just an hour earlier.
The floor of the canyon had these interesting ripples, evidence of the water that rushes out of the canyon during heavy rains.