Friday, April 27, 2018

February 26 - Day 12 in Big Bend National Park - Cattail Falls

A few episodes ago I mentioned that a waitress gave us a tip about an excellent destination that isn't on the maps or mentioned on the NPS Big Bend web site. That was going to be our main destination for today, but first we revisited the Nature Trail in the campground. We only had 2 more days in the park and we were hoping for a new bird or 2 before we left. We didn't have any luck, so we headed towards the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.

The hike begins at a gated gravel road with no signs indicating anything is down there. We hiked for about 2 miles, passing another gate, then arrived at small oasis area. Here we found a creek that barely had any water in it. I was actually surprised that there was any water since this area is really suffering from a drought. The road also split here. One trail headed up towards The Window and the other led to Cattail Falls. There was also a big sign with a picture of Cattail Falls, some info about the area, and pictures of some of what we might see at the falls. A huge oak tree had made it's home here, so we took advantage of the shade and spent some time hanging out.

the view from the beginning of the road
Cindy and me at the big oak
I wonder how many days out of the year the waterfall has that much water!

The trail from the oasis to the waterfall is about a mile and just about immediately heads into the usual desert environment we have been hiking in for most of the trip. As we got closer to our destination - Cattail Canyon - we began to parallel a deep and wide dry wash which I believe is Cattail Creek. The wash and trail narrowed as we approached the canyon and we began to see small pools. The pools began to get bigger and water flow from one to another was very apparent. The vegetation was now thicker and new spring growth was all around us, even though the trees haven't leafed out yet. We had to climb over and around a few large rocks at the end, but were now in front of the 80' Cattail Falls and the surrounding rock walls. The waterfall was barely a trickle, but I was very surprised that there was any water coming over the falls at all. There was a man leaving just as we got there and he was the only person we saw on the trail all day.

view approaching Cattail Canyon
the dark area is the trickling Cattail Falls
Cattail Falls

You can't see any water flow in the pictures above, but in the last photo you can see the pool in front of the falls. Since the waterfall didn't make a good photo subject, we began looking for any kind of life around this oasis. I joined a while back, and knew that some of the life I saw on our trip would be unique for me. Briefly, iNaturalist is a citizen science project where anyone from anywhere can enter observations of life - plant, animal, insect, etc. Here's a bit of what we saw.

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

Springwater Dancer (Argia plana)

Black Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris)

Tropical Leafwing (Anaea aidea)

Comanche Paper Wasp (Polistes comanchus ssp. comanchus)

Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana)
It was now late afternoon and we had a 3 mile hike back to the truck. This is a place you just do not want to leave. As we started out we couldn't help ourselves and stopped for some shots of the first pools we saw before getting to the falls.

1 comment:

  1. You guys were so lucky to find that waitress - what a beautiful little piece of heaven to come upon in the desert and be able to spend some time. Great photos!