|After the February 2007 Big Bend Ranch State Park event,
different people kept talking about the wonders of the Big Bend
region. Among others, Chase Snodgrass mentioned Capote Falls, the
highest falls in Texas, and Wes Hays was wondering about a railroad
tunnel he had heard about. Both of these things are near the
village of Valentine. Take a good look at the photo of Valentine
above. Does it look like a place with tunnels and tall waterfalls?
Well the trick is that they are over in the Rio Grande Rift, a few miles west.
|Rio Grande Rift rim|
|There is plenty of relief over here and it got a little scary trying to fly and take photos, at times. You have to keep track of the terrain, which may have cliffs extending many hundreds of feet above your altitude.|
|First up was to locate Wes' railroad tunnel, allegedly built by Chinese workers. Where the tunnel is there seems to be a drainage that goes all the way through the basalt but some of the twists are too tight for a train so there are a couple of trenches and the short tunnel on the east end.|
|West tunnel entrance|
East tunnel entrance
|Flying south to the falls|
|Next I flew down the Rio Grande to Capote Falls. There
are a bunch of airstrips through here. There are a lot of marginal
strips but some that look very nice. It makes me wonder if it
takes a long time to drive anywhere from this remote area.
Chase Snodgrass was flying today also and I went by Candeleria to see if Chase or his ground support was there. They were not but I was able to briefly make radio contact with him. I believe he said he was near the tunnel at the time.
|Well, Chase's father-in-law still holds the aerial
photography prize for Capote falls, but I have several excuses.
First, I didn't know there was going to be a thousand foot (guess)
cliff just to the southeast. Second, it was bumpy. Third, I
was on the wrong side of the airplane. Fourth, Mrs. Garmin was
yelling in my ears the whole time in more and more urgent tones,
TERRAIN! Sometimes I just wish she would cool it and let me
A good photo from the ground is at http://spiderjohnson.com/Gallery/capotefalls.html.
Capote Falls (175 feet)
|Stream uphill from Capote Falls|
|The next part of the mission was to fly north to the Guadalupe Mountains to photograph the highest point in Texas. On the way I went over the east end of the Sierra Diablo range and saw the most amazing Karst I have ever seen. I had no idea there was anything like this here. This is just west of the Jeff Bezos launch facility.|
West side of Guadalupe Peak 8,749 feet. Just a bit of snow showing.
|East side of Guadalupe Peak. Salt Flat, Dell City and Cornudas Mountains in back.|
|I didn't get the kind of pictures I hoped for, but it was a
good day. I got up late, cooked some oatmeal, did the NY Times
Crossword Puzzle, watched the CBS Sunday Morning News, showered and
drove out to the airport. Flew from New Mexico to the Big Bend
area, took lots of pictures; discovered the karstiest area I have ever
seen, north of Van Horn in the Sierra Diablo range. Flew to the
Guadalupe range and took pictures there. Saw a huge sinkhole cave
in Carlsbad Caverns National Park that I have never noticed before.
Then I landed and drove home in time for lunch. Mind blowing!
There is a lot more down there, Chase writes "There are many more neat things we haven't discussed yet" and Tom Navar tells of his ranch "where you will find ancient indian ruins, rivers, streams, waterfalls, and railroad tunnels."
I took off and landed at the same airport. Can I log any cross-country time?