Next set were all taken by my nine year old with her Canon Point-Shoot.
Today is the plant and parental pride issue.
The parental pride part is with my nine year old. Put a camera in a nine year old's hands and turn her loose. You get miracles and amazing pictures. She has the eye and she braved freezing cold, rain, mist and 40mph winds with me for some of these pictures.
First the plants. The park is truly an oasis of life. It is a day and night difference between the ranches around the park and inside the park. We saw, maybe 10-20 species of plants outside. We saw and identified at least SIX species of cactus, four species of Yucca, different species of oak, multiple evergreens (firs, pines, etc), multiple oak species, and of course, my personal current favorite the big tooth maple.
Next time you go into the area pay close attention to the ranches and vegetation. Most common is the creosote plant which is EXTREMELY invasive. Once inside the park boundaries, you will notice creosote plant along with LOTS of prickly pear, other cactus, cactus-like plants. It is like day and night.
Purple cactus. I actually heard some tourists ask the ranger if the cactus were suffering an infectious disease that is turning them purple. The look of confusion and surprise on ranger's face was something else but I did not want to push my luck and take his picture with that expression.
Found these little guys all over the place. Next trip is going to be with a cactus field guide.
The worst of them all, hiker's nightmare. The "lechugilla" or the "shin daggers" drew blood whenever I was not watching. I bear two nice scars on each leg as mementos of the trip. The back pointing spines/thorns will rip your skin apart and each one of the little b$#%^ds will make a separate scar.
Though the spiny stems look dead, the plant is very much alive. You can pour a few gallons of water around the base of an ocotillo and it will trigger a leafing and with enough water you can trigger a bloom.
The candelilla plant has an interesting scientific name "Euphorbia antisyphilitica". As name indicates, indigenous people of Chihuahua desert used the extract as a herbal cure for the disease of the same name. However, the plant became famous of the wax it produces. The wax is produced as a mechanism to prevent water loss. You can still the remains of the pits and work areas where people used to extract wax from these plants at various locations around the park.
Famous exotics still hang on in the park
Creosote bush is everywhere - wanted or not.
Up in the mountains, we got some beautiful fall colors. The oaks were just changing color when we were there.
Personally one of the best indicators of change in altitude other than popping ears is the appearance of sotol plant. Locals make and sell walking sticks from the flower stalk. It is quite frail but makes a cool souvenir.
Sotol plant is actually from the day lily family though human interaction is very cactus like with very nasty scars on your legs.
Some of the sotol has just finished flowering at the base of the Chisos.
Clump of Sotol plant
Can't ignore the reeds along Rio Grande. The taller spiky ones with pointy flower stems are the non-native invaders from SE Asia and Africa. The shorter ones with droopy flower heads are the native reeds and are usually found where park has tried to beat back the invader.
Cliff Swallows - don't know the species but there were thousands them around hunting mosquitoes.
Well how many mosquitoes
Sierra Del Carmen
Chisos @ Sunset