Some friends that I didn’t even really know very well were all planning a trip to Big Bend together back in May of 2014. I only heard the National Park while working at Whole Earth Provision from my co-workers. I heard that it was quiet, magical, ghostly, and hot as hell. Big Bend National Park rests on the border of Mexico and Texas, south east of the ghost town, Terlingua. The park is enormous, mapping everything about thirty miles from any other location inside and around the park. Huge and pretty intimidating, it’s the least visited National Park in the United States and a book was even written about the deaths that took place within its boundaries, “Death in Big Bend.” I had to go there.
There were five of us when we started the trip. Hah, just kidding there were five of us at the end of the trip as well. No one died and we didn’t help anyone cross the border, I swear. Anyways, we all met at Gerald’s house on Holly St. in Austin Texas late in the night before leaving at like 4:00am for our nine hour drive. I rode with Gerald in his truck while Erin drove her car with Nicole and Emma. Every time I almost fell into sleep, Gerald would shout some song lyrics along with the CD to keep me awake, it was a long long drive. I think on the first day we met up with Gerald’s aunt, who lives out near Terlingua. She was an interesting lady and also very talented cause she had paintings of hers hanging from the walls of her house, beautiful painting of Terlingua scenery. She also explained to us the story behind the closing of the famous bat bar we wanted to visit, called “La Kiva”. (here is an article for more backstory, https://www.outsideonline.com/1922521/murder-terlingua-texas). She was really nice and talkative lady. Generous too, because she even hooked our group up with her out of town friend’s container home.
We made our way short way over to the container home, dropped off our stuff, got some rest, and then hit an annual border festival party that we had heard about along the Rio Grande River.
It was one of the coolest things I had experienced. There was beer being served on the American side, enchiladas on the Mexican side, and dozens of people swimming in the brown river inbetween crossing freely (within 100ft). It was burning hot though, so after drinking a cold beer we all jumped into the dirty river to swim and relieve ourselves from the heat. When we crossed over to the other side with bare feet over jagged rocks, the Mexican families laughed at our struggle and we responded by laughing at ourselves. It was a good time.
After the party, we came back to our little container home where we made more food, a fire, and chilled the rest of the night. I remember Erin and I setting up our sleeping bags on the roof that night cause of the stars being so remarkable. However, it didn’t work out so well cause of the desert wind that was SO forceful we could hardly stay in our sleeping bags. I think I got enough sleep though because I am pretty sure we had a lot of activity the next day in the park before hitting up the Starlight Lounge for burgers and mariachi music.
We didn’t stay the whole time in the container home though, we wanted to also sleep in the Chisos Basin inside of the mountainous walls of Big Bend National Park. So, we got our things and hiked one mile to our campsite to set up and eat some food before hitting the Window Trail at sunset. This hike was probably my most favorite to date.
As we walked it was as though we were chasing the sunlight as it crept down beneath the wide crack in the mountain’s basin where fresh water had poured out from however many years ago. We enjoyed being inside of the waterfall overlook for a while before beginning to head back and after the sun had completely diminished beyond the horizon. For some reason it didn’t strike us that we would be walking back on the window trail to our tents in the dark. We had maybe one headlamp with us. Yet, the moon was so full, it was as if a flash light were being shown on Big Bend from above. I’ll never forget how the basin appeared even more majestic under the glow of the moon. Though, even in the dark of the night you could see the heat of day rising from the mountains ridges through something which looked like steam or perhaps it was a mirage.
I was fully enjoying the scenery as it was under a new light of the moon through the trail back to camp. We all were. The hike back was more than just fun with many laughs, jokes, ooohs and awws. It was as though it were timeless. As though we were lost on an adventure of a lifetime through a wondrously deserted nature. but also inevitably feeling a sense of neverlasting which only made me more grateful.
Well, at one point we were actually and genuinely lost. I think we walked an extra couple of miles, maybe even more, trying to retrace our steps back to our campsite. The funny thing, we weren’t even afraid. The jokes continued and we laughed at our lack of wilderness capabilities. Though, when we did finally find our campsite in the brush beneath some trees, we crashed. No more words were exchanged and if there were, they were murmured under our tired breaths as we removed our socks and boots. The only sound left was the motion of the winds blowing into every direction of the basin. As I drifted into sleep, I imagined the basin whirling with wind like a tidepool.