“Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” – Jack Kerouc
Why This Mountain?
Tami is a native Texan and has never been to Big Bend National Park. She plans to right that wrong by spending a couple of days in the park hiking to Emory Peak, the highest point in the park, and kayaking down the Rio Grande.
Mountain & Route Facts
Emory Peak, located in Big Bend National Park, is the highest peak in the Chisos Mountains and the highest in Brewster County. The peak is named for William H. Emory, the chief surveyor of the U.S. Boundary Survey team of 1852. From the Chisos Basin the peak appears to be a minor ridge, while the summit of Casa Grande, one mile closer, seems to be much taller. From the west, Emory Peak is clearly visible as a point slightly higher than most of the mountain range.
The peak can be reached by a moderate hike on a well-marked path across steep rocky terrain with an elevation gain of approximately 2,500 feet (760 m). The Emory Peak Trail is about 9 miles (14 km) long. Once at the base there is a semi-technical rock scramble to navigate before reaching the summit. No gear is needed for this climb although hikers should take great care.
The view from the top takes in most of the northern section of the park and a good portion of the Chisos range to the south. One surprise at the top, during the right season, is the population of lady bugs on the summit. There are solar panels, radio transmission equipment, and antennae at the top.
Historical and Cultural Information
Big Bend National Park in the U.S. state of Texas has national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. It contains more than 1,200 species of plants, more than 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles, and 75 species of mammals. The national park covers 801,163 acres (324,219 ha). A variety of Cretaceous and Cenozoic fossil organisms exist in abundance, and the park has artifacts estimated to be 9,000 years old. For more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km), the Rio Grande/Río Bravo forms the international boundary between Mexico and the United States. In 1933, the Texas Legislature passed legislation to establish Texas Canyons State Park. Later that year, the park was redesignated Big Bend State Park. In 1935, the United States Congress passed legislation that would enable the acquisition of the land for a national park. The State of Texas deeded the land that it had acquired to the federal government, and on June 12, 1944, Big Bend National Park became a reality. The park opened to visitors on July 1, 1944.
Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the south central part of the country, Texas shares borders with the other U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.
Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the fourth largest in the U.S., while San Antonio is the second most populous in the state and seventh largest in the U.S. Dallas–Fort Worth and Greater Houston are the fourth and fifth largest metropolitan statistical areas in the country, respectively. Other major cities include Austin, the second most populous state capital in the U.S., and El Paso. Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify its former status as an independent republic, and as a reminder of the state’s struggle for independence from Mexico. The “Lone Star” can be found on the Texan state flag and on the Texan state seal. The origin of the state name, Texas, is from the word, “Tejas”, which means ‘friends’ in the Caddo language.
In 1835, Texas started down the road of independence. Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna personally led an army to end the revolt. The Mexican expedition was initially successful. General José de Urrea defeated all the Texian resistance along the coast culminating in the Goliad massacre. Santa Anna’s forces, after a thirteen-day siege, overwhelmed Texian defenders at the Battle of the Alamo. News of the defeats sparked panic amongst Texas settlers.
The newly elected Texian delegates to the Convention of 1836 quickly signed a Declaration of Independence on March 2, forming the Republic of Texas. After electing interim officers, the Convention disbanded. The new government joined the other settlers in Texas in the Runaway Scrape, fleeing from the approaching Mexican army. After several weeks of retreat, the Texian Army commanded by Sam Houston attacked and defeated Santa Anna’s forces at the Battle of San Jacinto. Santa Anna was captured and forced to sign the Treaties of Velasco, ending the war.
One Texan industry that thrived after the Civil War was cattle. Due to its long history as a center of the industry, Texas is associated with the image of the cowboy. The state’s economic fortunes changed in the early 20th century, when oil discoveries initiated an economic boom in the state. With strong investments in universities, Texas developed a diversified economy and high tech industry in the mid-20th century. As of 2010 it shares the top of the list of the most Fortune 500 companies with California at 57.