Big Bend, It’s incredibly majestic. The views are phenomenal and the dark skies are breathtaking. But…the elevation and the dry heat, well that’s new to us, so it took us a few days to get used to it. We knew it would, so it was no big deal. Staying hydrated seems to be a little bit of a challenge. The dry heat is deceiving since we do not really feel like we a sweating. That is actually good, but we can get dehydrated very quickly if we are not paying attention. We been out and about a lot, but we have also have had plenty of down time relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Big Bend has a border crossing station, so we ventured and walked over to the Mexican side.
The border town was significantly smaller than I had imagined. But it was OK, I was in Coahuila, Mex, which happens to be very close to my heart since that’s the sate I was born in. For a minute, my heart beat faster thinking that I may be able to travel to my beloved Torreon; but my dream was quickly crushed as the young lady at the immigration booth told me that the road to Torreon was highly dangerous. The little town we visited is Boquillas del Carmen.
It’s people’s main source of income comes from the tourists that visit it. The moment we crossed the Rio Grande, we were surrounded by little children selling their crafts. They were so, so cute; they were not shy at all; they have mastered their courteous sales tactics; I guess, they have to in order to make ends meet, but I really don’t know. Maybe, like me as a young kid. I just loved to sell everything I could put my hands on. I was not shy either. Oranges, popcorn, candy, chocolates -you name it. I was the go to person for that. So anyway, yes…when I saw the little ones, I immediately connected, and it made me feel good. Going in, we had the option of hiring a “guide”, taking a donkey, horse or truck ride into town, but we did not choose any -we decided to hike down the dirt road. The tiny town had a little church (with no scheduled time for the services – they just happen when the priest arrives); the school was empty (it was Easter Sunday), but we did go to take a look at it. There were two restaurants, we later found out that they are owned by the same person. We also found out, that although they are owned by the same person, we had obviously made the wrong restaurant selection. It was still ok…the food was good; but not as delicious as I had hoped for. We had rice, beans, tamales and enchiladas -and not one thing was better than my own. (So, there -even though Jim does not always approve of my cooking, I know I am a pretty good cook). We did not stay at Boquillas very long, we decided to head back, which was a good thing considering it suddenly began to get crowded by the tourists invading the little town.
Back in Big Bend. We were mainly sightseeing; this park is gigantic. We been walking here and there, but we have done four major hikes. The most notable of the two was the Santa Elena Canyon and the Emory Peak in Chisos Mountain. The Santa Elena hike was very pretty with lots of scenic views, nothing too strenuous; it was very enjoyable, and it would have been more so if I had not made the mistake of wearing my sunglasses and my regular shoes. I also did not take my walking stick, which would have been very, very helpful.
Going up the hill was ok as long as I did not look down too often. My sunglasses were protecting me from bright sun but it was not doing much for my vision. I still enjoyed it, but I had to be extra, extra careful on the way up. On this one, I did keep up with Jim, which is not always easy. I know he does not believe me; but my little feet and short legs are no match for his. Even when he walks slow, I still have to take about three steps for one of his.
The hike to the Emory Peak in Chisos Mountain is one we will not forget. Jim gave me every opportunity to get out of it, but I couldn’t. We had been talking about doing it since the moment we got here and I also wanted to challenge myself. This time, both of us made sure to wear comfortable clothing, good hiking shoes, walking sticks and plenty of water (more than I wanted to carry). Knowing that there would be plenty of people in the trail, we decided that we would each walk at our own pace. Jim made sure to tell me not to try to keep up with him and not to do anything I did not feel comfortable doing. We started at about 8:30 am. The weather was cool and breezy.
Jim quickly disappeared from my sight, but strangely enough I did not feel any concern. As quickly as Jim disappeared from my sight, so did my energy. The trail was long and narrow, when someone wanted to pass me, I had to move to the side. At first I wanted to walk faster as to not to have to move out of the way, but I decided to just let them pass. As I hiked up along the trail, I began to see man made steps; at first, they were a welcomed sight because I thought they would actually help me, but I quickly discovered that the “steps” were becoming my nemesis as they began to get higher and higher.
I suppose that if I had longer legs, they would not have been a problem, but instead of the stairs helping me -they became more of an obstacle. No big deal, I can handle it. Yes, I can! So there, I went -going and going. I stopped along the way to take pictures (at least that’s what I kept telling myself) in reality, I was stopping to take a break. Fortunately, the breeze still felt wonderful and there were plenty of shaded areas to stop and take a big deep breath and just enjoy the beautiful views. The damn steps were never ending and suddenly it occurred to me that at some point I would have to also come down using them. Oh no!! My depth perception with my glasses is horrendous….but -for now, I decided to not think about that and continue on up, I had already made it far enough that it would make no sense to stop. I was tired, but considering how long I had been going up, I thought I was feeling and doing pretty good. From time to time, I was catching up with Jim, but only because he was taking a break (I really think, he was just stopping long enough to make sure I was OK and still on track) I was also seeing other hikers struggling on the way up. Yeah, they were passing me, but I did not care. They were half my age and their legs were longer than mine. Yes, it was a personal challenge, but I could not help comparing my stamina to the rest of the hikers. Their facial expressions were very encouraging, I guess it’s true. Misery loves company…well, actually no it’s not. I was just happy to know that I was not being a wimp, that in fact…this trail was difficult.
This went on for a while until suddenly I heard people talking, and they sounded happy! Yeah, I am so close!! But wait, what is that?? The hill suddenly began to get even steeper, the trail and the steps were gone! Now, it was just a pile of huge rocks. I was literally climbing, not hiking anymore…..and yes, then I saw Jim and the other five hikers that had previously passed me. They were all trying to figure out how to get to the top. A young lady was climbing like a spider all over the place trying to help the others to figure out the best way to get up there. She had already been all the way to the top, but wanted to help the others. Jim went up just a tad bit higher than I was, and he quickly realized that that was it for him; and with that, I decided that was it for me too. We were so close!!! But the risk was way bigger than the reward, so we came back down. Going back was way easier, even with my depth perception issues….unfortunately, I was very, very tired. I was feeling good, just tired. I was cursing the load I was carrying (water and walking stick), but then I realized they were my blessings because I am sure I would not have made it up and down without them. Instead of thinking about how tired I was, I began to feel thankful for everything I could think of. Our child, our parents, Jim, my walking stick, my shoes, my feet…you name it. Everything was beautiful again and I took my time coming down from that mountain.
Aaaah, and when I finished; I felt amazing!!!! Jim was done way before I did, and so he was waiting for me with a bottle of Gatorade in his hand. It was the best Gatorade ever!!! Woww! After all the mixed emotions, I was actually feeling amazing! Was I ready to do it again? No, not really. Not this week anyway. The hike was definitely a challenge, and yes, I am inspired to keep on challenging myself.
I am actually surprised that both of us are doing very well, we were both thinking that we would surely be super sore the next day, but we are not -not any more than usual.
We left Big Bend today. Now, we are our way to South Dakota. I cannot wait to find out what’s in store for us. For now, that it. Hugs and Hasta Luego
Ps. Sometime during our hike, a man had to be rescued from the mountain. I don’t think he was attempting the big hike, but within the first two miles or so, he went down and could not get up again. Luckily there was a worker doing some kind of trail maintenance who was able to radio in help for him. The Rangers (Back Country paramedics and first responders) took about 45 minutes to get there. Ultimately, the man had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital and his wife had to drive several hours to meet him there. I am telling you, I did not see all this in action; but Jim did and talked to his wife -and he tells me that those first responders did an outstanding job. They also had to hike their way in and carry the man out on a one wheeled stretcher. It was not easy. Boy, now more than ever I am hoping the funding for the National Parks is not messed with. It’s true….Park Rangers do Rock!