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Bi gBendTr i p:AMi ddl eSchoolTr adi t i on

ByTom Medar y’ 80


Thecr unchof80pai r sofhi ki ngboot sonl ooset r ai lgr aveli smyr emi ndert hatFor t Wor t hCount r yDayi sbacki nat t endanceatoneofnat ur e’ sbestcl assr ooms—Bi gBend Nat i onalPar k.Si nce1968,t heei ght hgr adecl assf r om FWCDhasbussedf r om For t Wor t ht ohi keandexpl or et heChi huahuanDeser tofWestTexas.Congr essest abl i shed Bi gBendNat i onalPar ki n1944t opr eser veal andofuni quecont r astandbeaut ywor t h pr eser vi ngf orf ut ur egener at i ons.Thepar khasunpar al l el edcul t ur al ,pal eont ol ogi cal andgeol ogi calval ues,andi t sbi odi ver si t yi ssur pr i si ngl yvar i edduet ot hecl i mat e cont r ast soft her i vercanyons,deser tf l oorandhi ghmount ai nt er r ai n.

Si nce1968,theei ghthgradecl assf rom FWCD hasbussedf rom FortWorthtohi keandexpl oretheChi huahuanDesertofWest Texas.

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Thei nauguralt ri pt oBi gBendwasi nNovember 1968wi t h40orsoei ght hgraders.

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I n1977,Dr .RayOl sen,amedi calchaper oneandpar ent ,di dwhatf ewpar ent shad donebef or eatCat t ai lFal l s—heaskedf orcompl et esi l encef r om al loft hechi l dr en.For sever almi nut es,t hesoundofwat ert r i ckl i ngdownt hef al l sandt hesongoft hecanyon wr enwasal lt hatcoul dbehear d.Dr .Ol son’ sr equesti snowt r adi t i onatCat t ai lFal l s andt heonl yt womi nut esofqui etf ort heent i r eweek. Eachday,t hehi kesbecomeal i t t l el ongerandmor et echni cal .Er osi oni sWednesday’ s t opi c.Thef i r sthi ke,Bur r oMesa,t r avel sdownadr yr i ver bed( ar r oyo)t hr ought he er odedr ocksofaver yol dvol cani cer upt i on.Thecanyonwal l sar et al landst eep,wi t h t hemor ni ng’ sshadowspr ovi di ngcoolshade.Thedest i nat i oni sacat hedr alofr ock car vedandpol i shedoutoft hevol cani cr ocks.Theki dsandchaper onescl i mbdown andsl i dei nt ot hecaver n.Thecl i mbi nt ot hepour of femphasi zest ot hest udent st he powerofwat erandgr avelcut t i ngt hr ought hesevol cani cr ockcanyonsdur i ngf l ash f l oods.Af t erempt yi ngt hei rboot sofsmal lst onesanddust i ngt hei rsocks—par toft he er osi onexper i ence—i ti st i met ocl i mboutoft hecanyon.Theuphi l lr et ur ni swar meras t hesunhasgai nedal t i t ude.St udent sof t ent est t hei rhandspeedt r yi ngt ocat chmul t i col or ed l i zar ds.Awr ongt ur nont her et ur nt r i pf r om Bur r oMesawi l lgetast udentt empor ar i l yl ostand ensur ehi sorhernamei nt heannul sofBi gBend l or e. Theaf t er noonhi ket r avel si nt oSant aEl ena canyon.St andi ngatt heedgeoft heRi oGr ande andl ooki ngupatmor et han2, 000f eetofcar ved l i mest onei si mpr essi ve.Ther i veri nApr i li sof t en sl owandmuddyal t hough100pl usdegr ee t emper at ur esmaket hewat eri nvi t i ng.Oncet he t r ai lendedi nSant aEl ena,myei ght hgr adecl ass cont i nuedi nt ot her i vercat chi ngbat sunderl oose r ocksi nt hecanyonwal l s.

Eachday,t hehi kesbecomeal i t t l el ongerandmoret echni cal .Erosi oni sWednesday’ st opi c. Thef i rsthi ke,BurroMesa,t ravel sdownadryri verbed( arroyo)t hrought heerodedrocksof averyol dvol cani cerupt i on.Thecanyonwal l saret al landst eep,wi t ht hemorni ng’ s shadowsprovi di ngcoolshade.Thedest i nat i oni sacat hedralofrockcarvedandpol i shed outoft hevol cani crocks.Theki dsandchaperonescl i mbdownandsl i dei nt ot hecavern.

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Thebesthi kei ssavedf ort hel astday.TheBi gBendt ri p i srenownedf ort he“LongHi ke. ”The14mi l ehi kei s physi cal l ychal l engi ngwi t hpanorami cvi ews.

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Lands capephot osbyRobi nWi l l i s


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