Big Bend, Part 1 / by Josh Trudell

I’ve wanted to go to Big Bend National Park for the last eight years – since the day we decided we were moving to Texas, in other words.

The mountains, the rivers, the rugged edge of the back of beyond – I was all over it. The idea of photographing that level of wilderness was making my camera salivate.

Thus, it was a trifle distressing that three hours into the eight-hour drive out to the park, I realized I FORGOT MY FRIGGING CAMERA BAG.

Commence head-to-steering wheel connections, made early, often and with many expletives.

Lemme ‘splain.

When I was packing the truck we rented for the trip, I took my camera bag off my shoulder in the bedroom before carrying another bag out to the truck. When I went back to help Superwife with her bag, she was already out of the bedroom, meaning I didn’t go back in, and THE BAG was left on the bed.

On a lunch stop in Del Rio, three hours drive from home base in San Antonio and four hours to Big Bend, I opened the back door to find…no bag. Meaning no camera. Meaning all the photographic dreams that I had had of Big Bend…just disappeared.

Commence headbanging, to the tune of “You’re a Dumbass.”

As we ate lunch, we kicked around our options. Drive back and get the bag. Get The Friend with The Key to ship us the bag overnight. Bite the bullet and do without.

I hoped to sell stories and photos from this trip to help offset the cost, so biting the bullet didn’t work. We had finished lunch and started heading east when we finally were able to raise a FedEx office. Yes, they were open late. Yes, they could get the bag there tomorrow.

Thankfully, we had a Friend. Said Friend went far, far above and beyond the call, driving out to our house, finding the bag and schlepping to the Fed Ex store, where for $200, they flew it from San Antonio to Memphis to El Paso before finally putting it on a truck for the Chiso Mountain Lodge in Big Bend.

Conflicting reports had it arriving anywhere from 10 in the morning to five in the afternoon. When it didn’t show up by 10, we decided to take the least scenic hike possible and still get a taste of Big Bend – a walk through the Chihuahuan Desert to the rock formations called the Chimneys.

Hiking out, I expected the family from The Hills Have Eyes to come stumbling down the hillside at any moment – it’s scenic, but once you’re out of sight of the road, you can forget civilization even exists. The hike is a relatively flat walk through a giant bowl, and before long we started to feel very small.

Returning to the lodge, I found that my camera bag had arrived…and then the thunderstorm rolled in.

Continued In Part II…