On Monday afternoon, November 11, not long after we began my big birthday backpack into the High Chisos Mountains Complex, we were switchbacking up Laguna Meadow Trail, still within sight of the lodge buildings, when Sean, who had been in front but was now behind since I’d requested a slower pace, said:
“There’s an insect on your backpack.”
“What kind of insect?” I asked.
“A butterfly,” he replied.
“Take a photo.”
We stopped. He snapped a few photos of the yellow-green butterfly. And we continued on, assuming like most times that a curious dragonfly or a shy moth landed on us during a hike, that it would soon fly away. Some forty-five minutes later, he mentioned that the insect was still there.
And then the clouds came.
In the growing light before dawn, we were awakened by a soft rain. We made sure that our gear was covered, and climbed back into our sleeping bags to doze for another hour or so. At 7:30, I woke up in earnest. Outside our tent it had stopped raining, but the mist had rolled in, making the world chilly and moody and destroying any visibility. It was my 35th birthday, Tuesday, November 12.
After a morning spent exploring Burro Mesa and striking our camp at Cottonwood, we drove to the heart of Big Bend National Park: Chisos Basin. We had reserved our backcountry campsite the day before and planned to hike into the mountains for an overnight backpack trip. I wanted to wake up the following morning, Tuesday, November 12, on my 35th birthday in the Chisos Mountains.
Vernon Bailey Peak looms over the Chisos Basin
Thursday morning we woke up and took stock. In our original itinerary, tonight would have been when we camped at Daisy Farm, but we’d already been here two nights. Already the regret of not having made it to a campground on an interior lake, with an increased likelihood of seeing more wildlife, was hugely mitigated by having been at Daisy Farm the evening before for Candy Peterson’s talk.
We decided to begin the hike back to Rock Harbor where, Friday night, we had a room reserved at the lodge. Our goal for Thursday, however, was Three Mile. We hoped to get the same lovely, harbor-side campsite we’d had Monday night, or at least the one adjacent.
Back in camp, we decided to relax and then have dinner early enough to make sure we were finished in time for Candy’s interpretive program at 8pm.
There was only a sprinkle of rain overnight, enough to make the rain cover useful, but by morning the sky was clear.
We breakfasted on strong coffee and dehydrated eggs, which were not my particular favorite. Phil was still feeling poorly, so he decided that he wouldn’t be joining us on our day hike up Mount Ojibway, at 1,133 feet, the highest point on the northeast side of the island.
We arrived at Daisy Farm early in the afternoon, so we had our pick of camp sites. We chose a lovely secluded spot in the forest and began to set up camp. Earlier on the trail, when we decided to stop at Daisy Farm, Adam and I toyed with the idea of doing the trail to Mount Ojibway as a day hike later in the afternoon. Once we began to unpack, however, we decided simply to stay put. In fact, we unanimously decided that we’d stay two nights at Daisy Farm to give Phil time to feel better. The forecast called for a chance of rain that night, so we pulled out the rain flies for our tents.