We left not-so-cold Asheville with our newly installed wood stove, and headed south to warmer winter climates. We rushed our way across Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana to make it just in time for the Women's March in Houston TX.
We spent a few days in Houston, aided by the warm hospitality of friends. We spent some time at the zoo, visited the Menil Collection, got a quick tour of some MFAH exhibits, and had amazing food with good company.
Austin is pretty cool. But, I wouldn't want to live there in the summer.
The Greenbelt, which is located right outside of downtown, provides quick access to some limestone sport climbing, trails, and the Barton Springs. Yes, we did jump in the spring water... at night. Yes, it was very (very) cold. Yes, it was totally worth it.
In addition to quick access to natural rock, Austin has some good indoor climbing to boot. We happened to be in town for the one-year anniversary party of Austin Bouldering Project, and spent a solid day enjoying their excellent facilities.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
After a week of hanging out in cities, it was time to get back out into the wilderness. We were initially going to visit a few climbing locations between Austin and Big Bend, but the parks were at capacity. We rolled with the change of plans, knowing there is always something else amazing to see, and headed on to the National Park.
Big Bend was wonderful.
Our stay was short, but we devoted most of one day to hiking the Chisos Basin Rim Trail. The hike starts off with some serious elevation gain, but levels off as it wraps around the perimeter of the mountains, providing stunning views into the park, and across the Rio Grande in the far distance. If you visit Big Bend and only have time for one hike, this is the one. To make it more interesting, add on the NE rim trail, and head back to the visitors center on the Laguna Meadows Trail.
Above: The Rio Grande (US/Mexico border). Where exactly will the border wall go?
This place rocks! (boooo)
If you enjoy rock climbing, this is a must visit destination just outside of El Paso. Hueco Tanks State Park offers an incredible amount of climbing options in its 860 acres (of which only a portion is easily accessible to climbers). Eva and I only spent a couple days at the park, and got crushed by V0s and the occasional V1. For those of you who aren't climbers, a V0 is the easiest rating for a bouldering problem...
Despite the difficulty, we left the park inspired to return stronger.