West Texas Road Trip: Big Bend & Marfa
West Texas is full of long stretches of road surrounded by rocky mountains. At sunrise the sun lights up the horizon, with the brightest hues of orange and sometimes purple. With every mile you drive the road takes you further away from home, but closer to wonder and excitement of the unknown. The star kissed sky in Big Bend is breathtaking.
If you thought shooting stars, were rare here they aren’t. One passes every five minutes, and you just cannot get enough of it once you realize there will be more than one grazing the sky during your stay. If you’re up for driving 30 minutes up the mountain from the lodge area, The Hot Springs trail is the perfect place to catch the sunrise.
It escapes from behind the mountains slowly to greet you. It’s a slow and beautiful progression of different shades, going from a subtle purple, that turns into yellow, and suddenly the brightest orange. The scenery here is beautiful in the early morning, but plan to get here at the crack of dawn if not a few minutes before while it’s still slightly dark. From a distance you’ll notice the rises from the stream at the end of the trail. When you park you’ll see a casita (ca-see-ta) is the pronunciation in Spanish. Walking toward the hot spring, you’ll pass up a lot bushes, I loved that there was a palm tree, where if you stand in the right place while the sun is coming out is a great photo opp. As you make your way through the fog, you forget that at night this is were a lot of animals rest (there's evidence on the ground), but seeing all the fog, the sun rising and being in that moment makes you forget all about it.. Beautiful isn’t enough to describe it you just have to see it, I even forgot it was in the low 30s just standing there taking in the view.
If you’re patient an hour or so after you arrive. And you might think “yeah, well I’ve seen the sunrise countless of times.” but here’s the truth you haven’t seen it like this before. After a lot of driving to get to the park and to that specific spot, it was the perfect way to begin the day, it felt like the sun brought us back to life.
All inexperienced National park goes raise your hands.. UP HIGH. Okay.. It’s easy saying let’s hike up the mountain to see the Balanced Rock, and whole different thing is hiking your way to the very top to see said thing. The trail to get to Balanced rock is in the Grapevine Hills in big bend, the trail is mostly gravel and dirt, and not too bad, but the last quarter mile is a steep on. Having to hand onto heavy boulders to get to the top, stepping as carefully as possible on your way up, although you might want to take many pictures on the way up that last quarter mile isn’t the best time. Reading the sign which tells you the rail is 0.5 miles is encouraging, but 0.5 miles will never be the same again to me.
The longer we hiked the more you feel the elevation weigh down on your body. The trail up to the top teaches you a few things, there are endless photo opps you might miss on the way up but will most definitely notice on the climb down. Prime example is me getting on top of a huge boulder that was 20 times my size. It reminds you the kind of attention to detail you have to have in that moment to remember exactly where you walked through. It reinstates the a certain fear/respect for natures
sine you're in the center of two steep mountains which could make you a target if there were animals around.
I kept thinking “oh my god what if a giant mountain lion pops up out of nowhere.” Thinking back about that I laugh. Last and most importantly remember the distance is always longer than it seems because you’re walking at an incline, and the elevation makes it harder on your body to breathe. Once you finally make it to the top the small struggle is, well DEFINITELY more than worth it. From up there you can see out for miles in multiple directions, but the most satisfying for me was to see how far up we’d hiked that view was beautiful.
* All pictures included here were taken by photographer Alonzo Williams Jr. click anywhere on this post you see his name to see more of his work*