After 24 draining miles, we still had 8 miles and 1,800 meters to climb. Blue Creek Path, a winding trail through a dry creek bed, would be our path out.
After two miles and multiple thoughts of collapsing, my little brother spotted massive caves adorning the rock walls above. His initial request to scale the wall was not effective. A combination of thirst and lack of oxygen flow to the brain resulted in an emphatic “hell no”. After some hankering and a slow restoration of our senses, we agreed to fight the underbrush and make our way up the canyon. While my older brother prudently hung back, Max and I climbed slippery sediment to a large, dark cave.
We were uneasy as we imagined the animals inhabiting the dark shelter. In a dim-witted last effort, we pressed on.
We found a sprawling empty cave. The enormity and dark shadows of the ancient room mesmerized us. We basked in the shade and echoes of the immense caves and then headed back towards the trail. Max taught me how to slide down slippery rock using my left foot as a rudder and we scooted right down the mountain.
The next five miles nearly brought all of us to our breaking point. In a moment of weakness and spite towards the unending upward terrain, I shouted something to the effect of, “make it stop!” and kicked a powerless shrub. Heat, rocks, and elevation will change a man.
Still, the great expanse of this place captured our imaginations. The scale and distance of Big Bend alters the way you think about limitations. Land, rocks unending. Sky floats forever. Time stands still at the altar of infinite space.
As we reached the downhill portion of our journey, we reflected on an amazing test of our resolve and the unmatched beauty we witnessed. We even appreciated the ten-mile section of the hike through the barren desert flats. We will always grasp the effect of pervasive dirt, wind, and sun on life. We now fathom the great oppression and beauty of miles of nothing.