I am an information professional, which means I can get excited about doing a little bit of research. And yet, even though I am really looking forward to my upcoming trip to Big Bend, I hadn't done much more than poke around a bit at a few websites. The problem with the Internet is, if you don't really know what you are looking for, you find too much of it. That is probably why, when the lovely Joolie lent me Hiking Big Bend National Park by Laurence Parent (2005), I initially planned to just skim through it and look at the pictures, but got so excited about an actual, physical book, that I ended up reading the whole thing.
Parent gives a brief introduction to the park and some general hiking tips and then plows ahead with the meat of the book: detailed descriptions of 44 hikes in the park, along with three hikes in the nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park. Although parts of the descriptions are a bit dry (particularly if you haven't actually been there), Parent spices them up with interesting historical anecdotes and information about plant and animal life in the area, as well as some beautiful (although black and white) pictures.
Most importantly, now that I have actually read a physical book about the park, I have a way better idea of what I'm looking at when I check out a site like Texas Hiking (which has some nice descriptions of Big Bend trails, including some pictures), or the enticing panoramic pictures on the Virtual Big Bend page.
And now, even though Dr. M is completely tired of hearing about Big Bend, I can't wait to do a little more trip planning...