Day 88: The Window & Alpine

Day 88 (2016-11-22): The Window Trail and Leaving Big Bend

Although my backcountry permit lasts until tomorrow morning, I decide today will be my last night in Big Bend. I plan to do The Window Trail in the morning before heading north towards Alpine, Fort Davis State Park, and Balmorhea. After packing up camp I head back into the basin and hike the 2.5 miles down to The Window, where all of the water within the basin drains to the desert below. Along the way I take in some of my surroundings, but mostly stay in my mind where I ponder. I find that, like mountain biking, hiking alone often brings me into a zen-like state where I lose sense of time and space, just moving along in my mind as I move along the path. Eventually I reach the Window, where I stop for Lunch.

The view from the Window is gorgeous – tall, smooth rock walls framing the water that cascades into the desert below, with rock formations in the distance and a desert stretching out as far as the eye can see. I sit high above on a rock chatting with other hikers as they arrive. Eventually I begin the return ascent through the canyon, this time taking in my surroundings as I ascend through the beautiful rock canyon. The walls are jagged but the floor is smooth, sanded into a slippery pipe of rock by the water rushing through. I climb and hop between rocks, enjoying the thrill of it as much as the view. Out of the canyon I return to my thoughts, flying up the canyon and reaching the top soaked in sweat and feeling good about the exertion.


The window, high above the desert below.


The canyon leading to the window is a gorgeous mix of rock, plant, and stream.

I thought I would pass through the small town of Alpine today, but it looks like an interesting small town and I visit the local library to access wifi and reach to a couchsurfing host. I find one, and take his recommendation to visit Harry’s, a dive bar, while I wait for his door to be unlocked (he is out of town but has a dog walker). I walk around town, talking to a few people and observing the shops, galleries, and restaurants. I stop to help two guys with a bike issue and they happily thank me for some advice. One man gives me his info and tells me to stay in touch – I remember not to pass judgement on his somewhat ragged appearance and mannerisms. Hell, I can relate – I am a bit odd, traveling without a “home,” doing my thing.


My contribution to some local sidewalk chalk art.

At Harry’s I sit down at the bar and a local lady introduces herself, then the bartender and some fellow patrons. This is a small town and a small bar, so everyone knows each other and they are all very friendly. I chat a bit about the town, learn about a fantastic hike opportunity in Guadalupe Mountains National Park to the north, and catch up via phone with my mom. I connect with the bartender about life’s twists, herself educated in the sciences but bartending here where she happily makes her keep working only part-time. I finally make it to my host Isaac’s house, meet his ridiculously dependent and energetic dog, and watch Pirates of the Caribbean before calling it a night. I couldn’t resist – I listened to the soundtrack today and it is so good!



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