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Chasing the Spring Bloom at Big Bend

In early March 2007, I joined my friends from the El Paso Cactus Club on a trip to Big Bend National Park. Since Big Bend is the home of many unusual, exotic, threatened, and endangered cacti, this trip presented a great opportunity to see more than the usual Chihuahuan Desert cacti!

After leaving El Paso and driving for some time, it was time to stop for fuel and "munchies." Here is a unique menu item --"Diesel Fried Chicken." I decided I really didn't want to enjoy the cuisine at this location!

After several hours of driving, we got close to the Big Bend area. Our first stop was to search for mammillaria lasiacantha, a Lilliputian cactus. This cactus is smaller than a penny, but boasts beautiful striped blooms!

Traveling through the Park, another diminutive cactus was found blooming--Echinocereus davisii. This cactus is very uncommon, with its distribution apparently limited to a single hillside. The cactus lives under the moss, and in early spring a pretty yellow bloom greets the world.

A view of the desert. Although we found numerous cacti, none were blooming in this area.

Texas bluebonnets enjoy the spring.

These bluebonnets are a slightly different type of bluebonnet than is normally seen in Texas, a form unique to Big Bend.

The next stop was Santa Elena Canyon, which can be seen in the distance.

Echinomastus mariposensis in bud.

The area near Castellon is very colorful. Hills of tuff create a surreal environment.

These are known as the "Mule Ears"....wonder why?

This bleak, desolate area is home to another unique cactus.

Another cute clump of Mammillaria lasiacantha grow amid the rocks.

This is an Ariocarpus fissuratus, a very ancient cactus.

Although it was almost 100 degrees at this location, the wildflowers don't mind it.

Another great view!

These beauties are Echinomastus warnockii.

A few of the wildflowers enjoying the spring weather.

This cactus (Epithelantha bokei) survives by camoflaging itself amid the rocks.

An even better example of how the cactus hides itself.

On the way back, a stop at an old movie set was in order. The set was built for a movie called "The Contrabandos." The set is a few feet from the Rio Grande.

Yours truly at the "Contrabandos" movie set.

A view of the church.

A view of the Rio Grande. Mexico is on the left side of the river.

This was a great opportunity to view the cacti at Big Bend National Park. The weather was ideal, with sunny days, and with the exception of one location, quite mild. We had the opportunity to see Big Bend, and photograph many of the cacti in the area.

Hopefully, next year will find me at Big Bend again!

 

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