Mule Ears Peaks, Big Bend National Park

August 29, 2018

We woke up early and broke camp at the Chisos Basin so that we could hike before it got too hot. This is a desert hike and temperatures regularly climb in the 100s in this part of the park.

Little did we know that there was a desert grassland fire near Sotol Vista…

We found out later that the fire was caused by lightening the night before. This was my first time seeing a fire in the desert. I’ve worked on some prescribed prairie fires and even helped set some and they are similar in how they slowly creep along and crackle and pop — and they smell so good.

Then it was on to to Mule Ears!


Start of the trail.
Oh no, the sun! That’s Mule Ears over on the right.

The sun started peeking up over the peaks (English is such a silly language) around 9:00 am — so much for our early start. But seeing the fire was worth it.

Dog cholla lit by the sun.

Plus there were amazing shadows and light on the cacti.

Like most things in the desert, objects appear closer than what they actually are!

We stopped at Mule Ears Spring along the way — it’s hard to believe that there are cattails and ferns out here.

Maidenhair ferns at Mule Ears Spring

We hiked past the peaks, but the temperature was starting to soar so we thought we’d better head back.

The desert landscape never ceases to amaze me. That’s J for scale.

Check out those barrel cacti on the hillside behind J.

Mule Ears Peaks, Big Bend National Park

I did a 5 minute sketch with my feet stuck in the shade of a creosote bush. 🙂

Mule Ears Peaks, Arches 90# cold press paper folded into a mini book, Greenleaf & Blueberry sketch palette, Pentel waterbrush.

But hey, 5 minutes is way better than no minutes.

I love having a record of this day. Looking back on it months later I can still feel the heat and the stillness of the desert. We were the only humans out there.

Then the fire through another wrench in our plans: the road was closed on the return as they were setting a backfire.

The ranger didn’t know when the road would reopen so we hiked to the nearby Burro Mesa Pour-off, ate pb & j sandwiches and holed up in the shade there for a while. We started losing shade so we headed back and the road was still closed, so it was on to Castolon.

We scored a stone cottage for the night and finally made it there via Old Maverick Road around 4:00 pm.

A shower never felt so good!