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      Chisos Solitude -   Houston never saw the Chisos


Chisos Solitude
Experienced By Few -


No one around, no one behind or in front, no one. No one out here, he said I'd be alone, no one else on the trails this time of year with way below freezing high in the Chisos. Will be kind of nice, special, the whole mountain, all the mountains now mine, for a few days.


Early Monday morning the Ranger asked, "sure you want to be up there for several days? Spost to be 18 or 20 at Boot Spring, nights. Colder out on the Rim. Had a storm up there yesterday afternoon and evening, hail."


No schedule, no hours or minutes. This Boot Spring trail up into the Chisos, on the map seems to be the steepest trail. Absolutely confirmed. The crook at a wash is covered with November leaves, gravel under, crunchy gravel, and it's cold right here. Rest, catch some breath. Damn, it's ice, it's hail under the leaves. Quarter - half dollar size pure frozen water, hail, insolated by the leaves.


Yea, it's cold but, I'm sweating. Hmmm, I've got a plastic bottle of Jack Daniels Black in the pack and maybe a foot of pure ice balls under the leaves. So, I'm not behind anybody, not really ahead of anybody and no schedule. It's happy hour somewhere while it's noon here. Yea, rest with Jack.


Even if no watch, I do have a backpacking, camping thermometer with the aluminum screw-on protective tube. Nice instrument, more than confirms the Ranger's Boot Spring forecast. But, no wind in the trees, just clear and cold, all moisture frozen. Built small fire, camped six or eight feet off the trail.


Each critter in the Chisos seems to have a special time slot at night to waddle from up the forest trail down to the Boot Spring wilderness camping area to check the place out for anything edible. Each critter guy rattling my cooking stuff enough to wake me to poke a look with the flashlight, startling them. Fox, Skunk, Raccoon, Deer, and Javelina, although I didn't expect the Peccary up this high and I had some anxiety about the Skunk.


Moving along, hike all the rim, camping with nothing but Mexican mountains everywhere in the distance. Again, Ranger's predict come true, confirmed with the thermometer, colder out on the rim. Day three morning my mind let me know - - - it was, and could, focus within itself. Seems, no one around, no one behind, in front, no people. No other persons for consideration, - - - for any local or near or behind thought. I was becoming insulated from the kind of thought, study, and mindful consideration of or for, others, people, places, things, time.


Every part and object of the terrain was vivid, clear, presenting rich detail in sharp focus at any distance. Other thoughts, subjects, mostly forgotten or long or far out of mind. Projects, little projects, would burst into focus, get processed, worked out quickly to my proud satisfaction.


Personal computers can get bogged down slow with background apps and programs running. Seems, after several days, alone, my mind is able to shield, render all background stuff out, gone and process with ease now, subjects it never could complete in the normal society, forced during waking moments, hours, to consider and constantly process all the surrounding background clutter presented by, by, - - - the World we live in.


Afternoon, third day, about to start down the Blue Creek Canyon Trail, twelve miles to spend the last night camped at the remnants of the old Homer Wilson ranch line camp house. There is no background clutter. Foreground of mind is wide open except for extremely light process of one in front of the other - - boots. I'm seriously multi-tasking now and do not want to stop. Please, if this is solitude, I want it to continue, Please let it continue.


Steep down trail. From right under Emory Peak at about 7,600 feet to the Wilson ranch at 3,500 to 4,000 feet. Down into the afternoon sun. No cold now, dust and steep down in the rough bush and rocks. This expanded focus, rich concentration and tasking to quick conclusions is delightful. Each thought of this ending is quickly deleted, put away. Seems I have forced society, people and considerations of , - - out, gone. Oh, I hope there are no people down this trail or at the Wilson Ranch house area.


The ranch house is just a shell with corrugated metal roof. All empty with a wide porch. I put the foam pads inside and hang my sleeping bag to the West to dry some. Next, since the first day, I find the Jack and make a toddy without ice and sit on the porch steps and start soaking up the still quiet dusk, gazing to the Creosote bush forest.


Without noise, a herd of about fifty Javelina slowly approach where I'm sitting, right, left, ahead, and all around me.  The anxiety I had with the Skunk earlier is multiplied, - - - with big M. Not a muscle moved, not a twitch, I'm frozen, cup and Jack in hand, these critters have surrounded me.


A loud squeal from one followed a fraction of a second later by all squeals, grunts and rustling noises. Poof, they're gone. Later learned these Javelina are near sighted, can see only a few feet. They had surrounded me before one sounded the alarm. Also later found that when the alarm comes they each run straight ahead. Couple of them ran into the porch foundation.


But, for some reason the critters didn't terribly upset my solitude. There was just moments of anxiety interrupting it. No more consideration of the critters. No people. Tomorrow, after sleeping late and maybe finding the camera, taking a few, I'll, - - -mosey a third of a mile up the hill to the, - - - road, - - - and considerations, cars, people, society, - - - -  civilization. November, 1970.


~~ Bob Hutchinson


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