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.
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.
I decided to start with Santa Elena that evening, so I hiked out to scout my location.
Done. That was quick.
I then went to Mule Ears overlook to hike the desert a bit.
Made friends with a black-tailed jackrabbit, then headed off to catch the sun going down at Santa Elena Canyon.
I went back to camp to shoot a few desert star pictures.
Got up well before the sun (4am) to shoot a star picture of Santa Elena.
Bats flew all around me as I stood in the middle of the Rio Grande until sunrise.
The sun rose high quickly. So I moved on and headed for the infamous River Road.
Prickly Pear Cactus flowering late.
I hiked Pine Canyon.
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….
Evening at Jewels was gorgeous, as it always seems to be. The colors of the desert come alive at dusk.
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.
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…
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!!
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