big bend // revisited

It didn’t take long to get back into the rhythm of Big Bend.

After all, it had only been 18 or so months.

But this lesser-known National Park, in the middle-of-freaking-nowehere on the border of Texas and Mexico, has been a refuge for me for the last 10 years.

In many senses of the word, I found myself in Big Bend.

I’ve found myself lost in the middle of the desert in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself 18 miles from any person or paved road in a almost completely submerged truck… in 110 degree heat.

I’ve found myself purposefully leaving civilization and humanity.

I’ve found myself at the top of the world on the South Rim looking out on the expanse of the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and Mexico, in awe.

I’ve found myself coming to terms with my insecurities and problems.

I’ve found myself watching a total lunar eclipse from the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains.

I’ve found myself spending New Years Eve alone atop the Dodson Trail, happy as a clam.

I’ve found myself sharing my alone time for the first time with my (then) future wife.

I’ve found myself kissing said future wife in Boot Canyon in the fall with the maple leaves ablaze around us.

I’ve found myself returning annually to celebrate her birthday.

I’ve found myself pushing the limits on how many miles I can hike in 1 day… turns out, it’s at least 18 miles… done on two different trips :)

I’ve found myself chasing a black bear in a desert oasis.

I’ve found myself standing in the middle of the Rio Grande alone at 4 o’clock in the morning to get a star picture of Santa Elena Canyon.

I’ve found myself (more times than I can remember) talking with the God of the universe in all the glory of His creation.

I’ve found myself entering the park ill, leaving well… entering heavy hearted, leaving renewed… entering empty, leaving full.

Big Bend is a very special place to me.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0001

I arrived in the middle of the day, so no sweeping, epic landscapes available to shoot.

I set up camp and focused on the details.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0002

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0003

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0004

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0005

I decided to start with Santa Elena that evening, so I hiked out to scout my location.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0006

Done.  That was quick.

I then went to Mule Ears overlook to hike the desert a bit.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0007

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0008

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0009

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0010

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0011

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0012

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0013

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0014

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0015

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0016

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0017

Made friends with a black-tailed jackrabbit, then headed off to catch the sun going down at Santa Elena Canyon.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0018

I went back to camp to shoot a few desert star pictures.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0019

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0020

Got up well before the sun (4am) to shoot a star picture of Santa Elena.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0021

Bats flew all around me as I stood in the middle of the Rio Grande until sunrise.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0022

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0023

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0024

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0025

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0026

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0027

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0028

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0029

The sun rose high quickly.  So I moved on and headed for the infamous River Road.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0030

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0031

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0032

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0033

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0034

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0035

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0036

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0037

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0038

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0039

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0040

Prickly Pear Cactus flowering late.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0041

I hiked Pine Canyon.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0042

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0043

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0044

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0045

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0046

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0047

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0048

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0049

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0050

After driving several hours on the River Road (where I drowned my truck a few years ago), I arrived at one of my old favorite campsites, Jewels Camp.

It overlooks the Rio Grande, Mexico, and the Chisos Mountains.

I would come to learn (the next day on my way out) by a border patrol agent who searched my car, that it also happens to be a favorite spot for the cartels to smuggle drugs into the U.S.

Good thing I slept that night with my .45.

On a serious note though, I have NEVER had any problems in Mexico, Big Bend, or on the River Road.  I think it’s important to draw from experience rather than fear.

Okay, so back to my trip….

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0133

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0053

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0055

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0057

Evening at Jewels was gorgeous, as it always seems to be.  The colors of the desert come alive at dusk.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0058

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0059

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0060

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0062

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0063

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0064

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0065

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0066

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0067

I read a little that evening, and then crashed.  All this getting up at 4 a.m., hiking all day, then going to bed at 10 p.m. was truly exhausting.

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0068

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0069

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0070

But I was there to work… so before I could go to bed for the night, I had a few star pics I wanted to capture…

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0071

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0072

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0073

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0074

ARS_BBNP_blog_0713_0075

I slept SO well that night, once I actually went to sleep.  And I would need it… the rest of the trip would be jam-packed and one of the most productive adventures in Big Bend yet!

Stay tuned for the second (and possibly) third part of Big Bend // revisited!!

If you are interested in learning more about photography, taking your art to a new level, and/ or Big Bend photography tours and workshops, please check out my new workshop dates:

Big Bend Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2013-2014

More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2013-2014

If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:

Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton

If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:

andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints

For assignment work requests, please email me:  andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com

Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!

all images + content © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2013