Adventures on Old Ore Road

Today was fantastic. We got an earlier start than yesterday, complete with a great breakfast from Espresso y Poco Mas in Terlingua. Over burritos, we decided to reverse today’s original plan and do Boquillas Canyon at the far southeast end of the park first, then start up Old Ore Road to do Ernst Tinaja. Then we’d finish up Old Ore Road and decide whether we had time for Balanced Rock or not.

As we entered the park, I was reminded again that Big Bend only trades in extremes. Yesterday’s extreme sunlight receded behind extreme cloud cover today, with a very low fog ceiling. And it was in the low thirties with pretty extreme wind. Driving over to Boquillas, I was a little nervous we wouldn’t see much. Along the highway, we saw a runner sprinting and a cyclist on her way through the park. Impressed by their dedication, we turned off our seat warmers in solidarity.

After all of yesterday’s driving, I was hoping we’d get some time on foot to explore. I got my wish today, and it was perfect. And we even managed to connect the dots with a fun little overland adventure.

Boquillas Canyon was beautiful. I’m sad that we were not able to do the Boquillas Border Crossing because of the Government Shutdown, but the trail up into the canyon is gorgeous, despite the crazy wind and dust. We played around there for a while before starting up Old Ore Road.

Before setting off, though, I had another present for George. See, last year for an OAT West present, he gave me a set of OU stickers for my Xterra. This year, OU plays Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. (Hint: the game just ended – it did not go well for the Sooners.) So I offered him a few stickers of his own.

Our first stop wasn’t far up Old Ore Road – Ernst Tinaja. It’s a campsite and trailhead that leads into a long narrow canyon. We spent a couple hours hiking and scrambling around.

That was a super awesome surprise. Perhaps because it’s miles up a semi-challenging dirt road, the trail doesn’t get much mention on maps or brochures, but it is certainly one of my “must see” features of Big Bend.

George even figured out how to use the force to fly up a little ledge.

Before getting going again, Evan and I both made a minor adjustment. His cargo door latch and my hood latch both squeak when they get dusty. Loudly. Thankfully, that issue has inspired me to keep a tube of lithium grease in my glove box.

After Ernst Tinaja, we started up Old Ore Road. Predictably, this took longer than anticipated, but was very enjoyable. It was the right balance of “some challenges” and “totally gorgeous” and “nothing too scary.” At least for us. Kinja has deleted its OppositeLock and Overland communities. Content Unavailable

Unfortunately, a few miles beyond Ernst Tinaja, as we stopped to take a look at the Unimog that rolled over a couple weeks ago, a pair of hikers we saw at the canyon stopped by our group. They were caught by surprise on Old Ore Road, and were trying to figure out how to get out of the area in their Rav4 Hybrid.

We offered as much insight as we could, given that we also didn’t know exactly what lay ahead either. We also exchanged contact information; we’ll be waiting for their call tomorrow. I think they can make it, but it’ll be tricky.

We spent the rest of the evening finishing up Old Ore Road, so instead of making a run for another hike at the end of it, we booked it back to Terlingua to try and get in before the restaurants started closing their kitchens.

He needed another for good measure.

Today wasn’t as much a hiking day as much as a rock scrambling day, but that was awesome. Tomorrow we’re looking at doing the Lost Mine Trail hike and don’t have a solid plan for anything else yet. One thing we do need to do is start figuring out the best way to handle New Year’s Eve, which is coming right up.

Boquillas Canyon