14-Apr-2002 -- This hunting party included Tsvika Kuflik, Deb Smith, and myself (Richard Rutledge). We were in Alpine, Texas for a visit to the Big Bend National Park. Additionally we had planned to spend a day hunting confluences north of Fort Davis.
We set out from Alpine soon after sunrise, heading north on scenic state highway 17. It had rained a bit recently and the wildflowers as well as cactus flowers were in bloom and quite pleasant to look at. Along the way we observed a turkey vulture sitting on a fence post with its wings outstretched – quite an odd sight.
At Joyahvale we turned back west and started closing in on our target. We came upon several grazing cattle, loose alongside the highway. Then we came upon a lone calf, and a few hundred feet away a coyote was making a dash back into the brush along the fence line. We decided to find the nearest rancher and let them know of the loose cattle, and the coyote.
We found an open gate (with cattle guard) marked by an old horse drawn road grader. We turned off the highway and headed southwest, a few miles east of our target. After a couple of miles we came upon a rancher and his family heading out towards the highway. We tried to let him know of the cattle and coyote, but our collective Spanish failed us. We were able to ask permission to go hiking on the property and he had no problem with that. We were about 3 miles south-east of the confluence.
At just under two miles from the target we had to stop as the road became too rough for our sedan. We loaded up the pack with water, grabbed a topographic print and GPS, along with the cameras. Tsvika and I set out across open country. Deb declined our invitation for a two-mile hike across rough terrain.
The hike took about two hours and along the way we were treated to blooming cactus, rabbits, lizards, and a group of Big Horn Sheep. We had come up to Rattlesnake Gulch and spied a catctus in bloom. As we approached the rim we were startled by a group of four sheep, which had heard us and bolted up the other side of the gulch.
Once across the ravine, and a short hike uphill, we started the GPS dance. The confluence dance took only a few minutes to get the GPS to zero-up. We took a short rest to enjoy the countryside, and the required pictures before heading back to the car.
It has been a great desert hike, due to the rains the night before, which kept the temperatures down, and the help of a reasonably cool breeze. We now have to head back to the day job!