“The best of all things is to learn. Money can be lost or stolen, health and strength may fail, but what you have committed to your mind is yours forever.”
When people question me of my favorite place to prowl in Big Bend National Park, my mind and memories go into a whirlwind of intriguing possibilities. There are so many routes, varieties of scenery and settings to choose from. This country is a complex kaleidoscope of bewildering landscapes that seem to encapsulate oneself on all sides. Yet walk a hundred yards in any direction, and everything changes around you once again.
But I do have my favorites, and Mule Ears makes the short list every single time. From afar this distinguishing terrain feature appears to stand amid only a bland, forlorn soil with no visible attributes, a place where a single lizard would do good to make a living.
That opinion is only for the uninitiated. Mule Ears is a fascinating repository of canyons, caves, rock runs, arroyos, natural shelters, tinajas, cliffs, creeks, pour offs, stands of massive chunks of petrified wood and a general sense of otherworldliness that takes hold of the imagination and spirit, and then never lets go.
As you travel through these surroundings, you also become acutely aware that other men have done the same since time immemorial. A fading, overgrown, rock slid network of trails that once felt the footsteps of the ancient ones lead hither and yon, each for a purpose and each containing at least a few worthwhile secrets.
One does well to be constantly on the look out for these remnants, and to keep an awareness and abiding respect for the challenges presented here. This country is literally a maze with visual treasures tucked away in unlikely spots, and guarded by near inaccessible terrain features. There is the long way, the easy way, the hard way and often no way at all; you just have to know each in turn and be ready in flexibility when encountering anything new.
Many a ghost wanders this place, and perhaps one day mine shall too.
I can think of many a worse fate for a man’s eternity.
God bless to all,
Ben H. English
Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
Facebook: Ben H. English
‘Graying but still game’
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The Stable Performance Cars
Billy the Kid Museum
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