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.
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.
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!