Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To The South Rim

The sky was blue. The morning sun was still hidden. The Basin was still shrouded in shadow. There was a cool morning breeze coming down the mountainside. There were vistas to see. There were dry creeks tumbling down the slopes. There were animal trails winding into the underbrush. There were rocks and trees and stabby things.

I sometimes found myself standing still — gazing out over the tops of the Pines and Junipers or bending over some little blooming thing on the ground. With each step there was something else to study or contemplate. Before long, I was falling behind, but my intrepid companions would stop periodically and wait.

With each step, I was weighing the soreness in my legs. I had been dreading this day. If a little hike like the Window Trail could break my spirit, what would a 12-miler one do? So I was waiting for pain as we climbed higher and was preparing myself for the spot where we decided that I could turn back early if things didn't go well.

But things went well. So when we came to the junction, we just kept going.

We came to Laguna Meadows with its tall tufts of grass in broad open places. In another life not too far perturbed from this one, we might have over-nighted at the primitive camping sites here. But in this life, our style of camping is hardly primitive, and anyway our only gear was water and food enough for the day. And so we kept going.

The South Rim towers above the desert facing towards the Rio Grande far in the hazy distance. On this day, it was a harsh, wind-swept place, with great gusts bursting over the edge of the cliffs and threatening to blow my hat away. We briefly sat at the edge of the precipice, dangling our legs over the edge and staring out at the mountains and desert below, but the gusts and my hat and the camera looped over my shoulder and the two bottles of water in my fanny pack made for too many unpredictable variables, and like a nervous Nellie, I announced that I didn't want to sit so close. We took a few photographs and then found a low spot behind an old, gnarled Juniper tree and rested our weary bones (or was it just my bones that were weary?) and ate our peanut butter sandwiches.

Hiking from the Basin to the South Rim
Big Bend National Park

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