Here's where we went this weekend. A day trip with some extreme social distancing and hiking. Anyone know where?
Another photo clue. More details on the trip to follow.
On Saturday, we wanted to get out of the house making sure we were social distancing plus get some exercise. We flew to Big Bend Ranch State Park and landed at the park’s airport, 3T9. This is in the State Park, not the National Park. Some say the State Park, which was formed in 1991, is like Big Bend National Park was in the “good ol’ days”. The ranch and airport were owned by a succession of businesses and owners including Julian Sprague, hence the rusty sign.
The flight was a little over 300 miles each way, so it was going to be a good trip for me just getting to fly. There were gusty winds for landing with a serious West to East wind. We saw 54Kts tailwind on the return at 11.5K! Since there is no gas at 3T9, we planned a fuel stop on the way to allow us to continue to Big Bend and return home without a fuel stop. Almost throwing a wrench in our plans, the self-serve fuel pumps at both Sonora (KSOA) and Ozona (KOZA) were inop due to network connection issues. Luckily, Mr. McCleary the FBO owner in Ozona, met us at the pump (at a safe distance) and bypassed the payment system and gave us an invoice. You can be sure I’ll have a check in the mail tomorrow morning! Love small town hospitality and airplane folk.
I had called ahead to the Park office to make sure they were open. They were but just for day trips. No overnight camping and all the facilities were closed including bathrooms. They sounded genuinely excited that someone was coming and especially to the airport. I suspect their funding is related to traffic like many municipal airports. We bought day passes online at the Texas Parks and Wildlife website for $5 each and attached them to the airplane much like Oshkosh.
The best I can describe the runway is tar and gravel. You see that on rural roads, but the gravel usually gets forced into the tar by auto and truck traffic. It’s still pretty loose on the runway but no problem landing and I made sure I slowly added power on takeoff to avoid picking up any of the gravel with the prop. There are tiedown rings but no ropes. The tiedowns are kind of random so you have to find the best orientation to get three points close together.
The closest trail to the airport that we wanted to see was the Cinco Tinajas Trail. It is about a 2.5 mile walk from the airport to the trailhead, so we did a little more hiking than we planned by the time we made it back to the airplane. Be sure and take a lot of water. We didn't see any other hikers, only a park ranger. He checked on us from a safe distance in his pickup as we were walking back to the airport. I'm sure he was just making sure we weren't planning to spend the night and had enough water but our daughter said he probably wanted to say, "y'all git".
The Cinco Tinajas (5 ponds) Trail has water filled basins in a water carved arroyo and a beautiful overlook high on a bluff. There is a short route and a longer route. We took the short route due to time but plan to go back and take the long route. We got a late start due to weather in New Braunfels and wanted to be back at the airplane well before sunset.
We didn't get to go down to the Tinajas but they are easily accessible from a branch on the trail.
Even the walk along the dirt roads was interesting. We saw a small herd of Longhorn cattle making their way along a trail not far from the road. Initially, we made noises to get them to look our way to take their pictures but then had the shocking realization that there was no fence, no place to hide and they were wild animals with really big horns!
We also saw this lucky horseshoe hanging from a huisache tree in the middle of dang nowhere. Wonder what the story is behind that?