My primary purpose for going out to Big Bend National Park was to shoot the night sky as the park is a very dark sky site. But, I got there well before sunset and had time to hike around during the golden hour. I saw on the map a road up to a hiking trail to Balanced Rock in the Grapevine Hills area. So, I drove up this very rough road to the trail head. The drive was very slow to prevent damage to my car, but it was a passable road for my car (a Highlander crossover), but I would not take this road in a sedan or small car.
The hiking trail to balanced rock is an easy walk through a canyon for most of the trail, but ends with a moderate climb to the eponymous balanced rock. Below is a photo looking back down the trail at the distant cliffs lit by the late afternoon sun.
I included a yucca in the foreground to give you something to look at, but the distant cliffs in the evening side-light are the reason I took the photo. I also brought up the exposure in the foreground quite a lot.
After climbing a bit toward the balanced rock, I turned and took this photo looking back down the valley toward the parking lot. I liked the way I could see the trail winding through the valley with all of the boulders on the cliff sides.
This is probably my best photo of this hike. Shot at 35mm instead of wider, I think that it features the distant cliffs and mountains well and the eye can follow the trail. I was actually kind of excited when I saw this view as I thought that it would make a fine photo.
And then at the top of the trail is the balanced rock that you have heard so much about. I guess the boulder tumbled down the mountain and came to rest against the larger boulder there. There were large boulders just laying around everywhere up here, as if they were toys that a kid didn’t put away.
This was a nice hike that took a little over an hour. I only saw one other person on the trail on this afternoon so I mostly had the place to myself. I did see the occasional colorful lizard. They were pretty but difficult to photograph.
As I got back to the parking lot, the sun was beginning to set. There were few clouds on the horizon to make a colorful sunset, but I didn’t want to see any clouds – I was out here for the night sky. The following picture was taken from the parking lot for the Balanced Rock hiking trail. It looks across the desert to the sun setting behind the distant mountains.
There really wasn’t anything in the foreground to worry about bringing up in processing.
So, I slowly retraced my path down the bumpy dirt road as the ambient light faded. As I made it back to the main road, I took another quick photo of the mountains silhouetted against the sunset.
I then headed for an overlook called Sotol Vista, a high vantage point which looks to the South. The night sky cleared and I had a beautiful view of the heavens. I will post photos from that in my next blog. Thanks for reading and leave a comment if you like.