I was climbing higher, but my body still seemed reasonably acclimated. For the past four months I had hiked in elevations ranging from being on the beaches of the Pacific Ocean up to 9000 feet above sea level. My breathing was slightly taxed, but the air was cooling and becoming soothing, almost methylating, as I lumbered higher through the perfumes of Rose-Fruited Junipers, Honey Mesquites, Scrub Oak, Piñon Pine, Texas Madrone, and Manzanitas. Their redolence encircling the trail as I approached 6850 feet, a 1200-foot elevation gain from where the trailhead began.
The desert floor beneath me stretches to eternity. You can easily see 100 miles or more across the horizon in all directions from the top of the Lost Mine Trail in the Chisos Mountains. The innumerable red, orange, brown, and lavender hues paint the mountainous landscape.
A watercolor wonderland.
Sky Islands floating above what seems like a completely barren reddish-yellow-beige terrain. But that view of what’s beneath is as deceiving as this mountain range is enchanting.
Regardless if this cordillera derived its name from the Native American word “Chisos,” meaning “ghost” or “spirit,” or if “Chisos” came from the Castilian “hechizos,” meaning “enchantment,” you’ll feel an enduring presence in these mountains. The Ancestors are still here in this once favored stronghold of the Mescalero, Apache, and the Comanche. Sharing space and time with the Black Bears, Roadrunners, Javelinas, Ravens, Mule Deer, Mountain Lions, Hawks and Vultures, Coyotes, Horned and Earless Lizards, Rattlesnakes, and Tarantulas.
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