It was our first night in Big Bend National Park. We had set up camp in Terilingua and it was getting dark but we were so excited to finally be there after 20 hours of driving so we picked a random trail on our map and drove towards it. The sun setting on the Chisos Mountains turned them a beautiful glowing orange.

We arrived at the trailhead after dark but that didn’t stop us as we strapped on our headlamps and headed down the trail. The trailhead is off of the Ross Maxwell Scenic drive on the west side of the park and the trail immediately slopes downward into the desert. Soon after we started we noticed some tarantula holes in the ground and after that Elijah (our friend and the only spider lover on the trip) was inspecting every little hole on the ground in hopes of seeing a big hairy arachnid (we never saw one). The trail carries downward before taking you through some large rocks down into the wash that creates the trail. We followed the trail with big smiles on our faces while Elijah jumped at every possible spider. The trail took a slight turn to the right as a Canyon formed around us and we noticed an arch on the left side of the Canyon that looked like it belonged in Utah! Just after that we heard the loud noise of rocks falling and as we looked on the left side of the Canyon was an Addax (the cousin of a bighorn sheep from Africa that was introduced in Texas for hunting but can now be found in the wild). It stared at us from it’s cliff as if it was stalking our every move. It was exhilarating but also somewhat terrifying. The Addax loudly grunted at us like a deer and continued to watch us. We stared back at it and tried to take pictures despite it being quite dark out. We admired our new friend for about ten minutes before another loud grunt came from the other side of the Canyon and we saw another Addax looking down at us. We felt like we were being surrounded with one on each Canyon wall. They kept their eyes on us while grunting to one another (presumably about which way to eat us would be best). After a little while longer our stand off ended and they decided to go to bed I guess and we carried on down our trail.

With adrenaline pumping we reached the end of the trail with a steep rock scramble down into a large cave formed by the wash we had been using as a trail. Once in the cave we walked towards and opening in the other end that went straight down probably 100ft and is where the water exits it’s cave. We looked out the window and saw a light on the ground and shouted hello and our fellow night hiker said hi back! We sat down in the cave, ate a snack and talked about how amazing this trip was even though it had just began. After about 15 minutes we headed back for the car and sadly didn’t see our Addax friends or tarantulas. At one point Anya (my sister) looked up and realized the stars were coming out and so we turned off our lights and looked at them for a minute. After that we kept tripping and stopping because we wanted to look at the stars every time the clouds would open up. We got back to our car and look up at the sky for a bit and then went back to our campsite to rest up for the day ahead of us! There couldn’t have been a better way to introduce me to Big Bend and I can’t help getting excited thinking about our hike!

Thanks for reading – Josh

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