March 17, 2023
Nature Backs Finds Magic at Big Bend
by matt hofmann
Putting into words the emotions and joys of traveling with good company, exploring new places, and living moments to their fullest.
There’s a wonderment and sense of calmness when you venture into the unknown. The turning of a car key can spark subconscious joys for the adventure to come, signifying the start of a memory. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your day-to-day life and forget to experience new things and take time for yourself.
To travel is to expand your mind and spirit beyond comfortability. You never know how a trip is going to turn out. There’s no amount of planning that can influence the weather, introduce you to new friends, or inspire memories you’ll carry on well after the journey.
As a company who exists purely to inspire the outdoor community and embrace all the world has to offer, it’s a beautiful thing when we ourselves can escape the office together to explore.
For many of us, this was our first time in South Texas at Big Bend National Park, so it’s safe to say expectations were all over the place.
This idea was sparked about a year ago by a last minute change of plans and a new understanding of what the desert can provide. I have been traveling down to the Big Bend area for the better part of my life now, and I’ve always tried to explain my love for it to no avail. How could you ever do justice to a place that is held so deep in your heart even you don’t fully understand?
So after a few months of planning and gathering our people up, we finally had the chance to show them the beauty beyond the photos.
On a chilly Thursday night at our Nature Backs HQ, the crew loaded up the cars and began the 13 hour road trip to Big Bend National Park. A trip that had long been on our minds was finally coming to fruition.
We arrived at the Big Bend National Park entrance in the late afternoon and drove around exploring the terrain surrounding the basin. When the sun began dipping into the horizon, we made our way into the basin to set up our camp for the week. We cooked a warm dinner and enjoyed each other’s company after the long day of traveling.
We all rose slowly the next morning, recovering from the previous day's drive, yet excited for what the new day held. Hot coffee was brewed while sunlight poured over the basin walls, warmly welcoming us to our first full day in the park. With nothing really planned, we all stuck around the campsite and explored the area surrounding us. Some went on scenic walks taking in the new landscape, while others read books, and wrote in journals.
We had decided the night before to go on a 4-mile out & back trail near Lajitas, TX known for its beautiful canyon and view of the Rio Grande river. We left camp in the afternoon and started the beautiful drive to the Mesa de Anguila trailhead which was a little off the beaten path even for Big Bend.
If I had to describe this experience in one word: surreal. From the approach to the view up top, it felt as though we had been picked up and dropped into another world. Sounds of laughter and wonderstruck danced around us with the wind as the desert showed us all the beauty she holds.
Back at the campsite, our night was spent with good eats, cold drinks, and picking on guitars to thank the day for what was given.
The adventures picked up again the following day with a trip to Terlingua Ghost Town and Santa Elena Canyon. We picked up a late breakfast at a local coffee shop before heading over to a place coined ‘the porch’ to relax and look out upon the Chisos Mountain Range in the distance. One of the most beautiful things about the desert is the slowness that comes with it. Sitting on the porch, it felt like time had all but froze, as if the desert was teaching how simple life can be. A simple moment made beautiful by the scenery and everyone spending the moment together .
Later we drove to Santa Elena Canyon, which looked to be a gateway to another world. With dense vegetation and soft sand banks pushed up against cliffs rising over 1,000 feet, it was quite the sight to behold. Half of us sat on the Rio’s bank and watched the sun set, with the other half hiking deeper into the canyon. Wherever you were, the views couldn’t disappoint.
Few things are more beautiful and bizarre to see than water in an otherwise barren land. To fully appreciate and explore this, the next day we decided on floating down the Rio Grande in a few canoes.
The river knew the vibe this day and flowed calmly through the cliffs, allowing us to fully take in the beauty and life the water brings.
About halfway through the float, we pulled off to explore a hot spring we had heard about. Now I know a hot spring in the desert doesn’t exactly sound refreshing, but believe me when I tell you these waters had healing powers in them. Shifting from the icy Rio to the hot spring water made for the perfect balance, allowing us to really soak up all the magic the desert has to offer.
The following day was our last full day, so you know we had to make the most of it. We all rolled out of our sleeping bags around 4:30 am to make the drive back to the hot springs to watch the sunrise over the Rio. We all relaxed for a couple hours and took in the morning with some pour over coffee from a local roaster. Some wild horses also popped in to say hello, another subtle reminder from the desert of how we’re all connected and one with each other.
Packing up camp next morning was bittersweet, as it always is I suppose. But the ending of one adventure opens the door for the next to be had, so we were left with appreciation and full hearts.
There’s an indescribable feeling of sharing moments and adventures with people you cherish, and this trip was a true testament to that.
When I was younger, I used to dread the end of a trip, but in time I’ve learned this is perhaps the most beautiful part. When we travel, it strikes a cord deeper than we often realize at the time. We return home more free than before, understanding that going for a hike or getting outside to cook dinner is not a luxury of travel, but something to be experienced every chance we get. We learn a warm cup of coffee to welcome the sun can be just as beautiful no matter where we’re standing.
Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible. From the delicious food cooked everyday, beers cheered to good times, and experiences shared together; it was great living what we preach.
The desert is a place that inspires at every turn. Hats off to you Big Bend, thank you for all the memories.
Much love to you all,
Traveler, Singer-Songwriter, and Content Creator at Nature Backs