There is a mesa to the northeast of my house, with fingerlike basalt formations jutting from its mass. One in particular—that we named “The Nub”—draws your eye. It overlooks the Rio Grande, stands sentinel over Contrabando Creek and a system of rugged trails and old roads. It’s in the background of Brooks and Dunn’s “My Maria” music video and made an appearance along the skyline in the movie “Streets of Laredo”.
I’ve stared at it for three years, wanting nothing more than to find a route to the top. The other day we finally set out to accomplish that goal.
There is no trail, just a smattering of game paths left by the Aoudad and Big Horn Sheep who adeptly lead their lives on the edge. It’s a steep and rugged scramble through rocky terrain dotted with knife-like lechuguilla and sharp cat claw. Loose rock sits precariously atop crumbling sediment. One misstep could send you sliding down the slope into something evolved to puncture your skin, or over a rock pour-off that only sees water in the brief monsoon season.
If you aren’t turned around by the dicy ascent, you reach the top and a 360 degree view that includes the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park, Rincon Mountain and Chimney Rock in Big Bend Ranch State Park, the Rio Grande snaking its way lazily between two nations, and the resort town of Lajitas nestled between Lajitas Mesa and the Mesa de Anguilla.
It’s a harsh landscape. Some people venture down here and can’t find the beauty in a wide open sky and an arid landscape. But if you see the value in a silence so deep your ears ring, in a horizon so vast you are humbled by your own small place in the world, in the plants and animals that have developed to thrive in such harsh conditions, and in a place that demands either full respect or your well being, then you will truly appreciate the Big Bend of Texas.
Find your “Nub” and climb it. The view is worth the work. Cheers! 💜