National Geographic : 1968 Jan
Like a ship at sea, the glass-walled Chisos Mountains Lodge floats in the night beneath brooding Casa Grande (page 110). A restau rant in the newly constructed building must truck in supplies from towns 100 miles away. Streak picks his partner-the pretty one with pockets full of hay-at Chisos Remuda in The Basin. Experienced guides lead trail parties to the South Rim, an all-day, 14-mile circuit that winds through forests green with conifers, and across meadows ablaze with wildflowers. The reward: a heart-stopping, summit-top vista where, an awed viewer once exclaimed, "You can see the day after tomorrow" (pages 104-106). KODACHROMES (THESEANDFOLLOWINGPAGES)BYJAMESL. STANFIELD© N.G.S The flat plain looked unbroken, but it was not. Arroyos and even steep canyons, some of them frighteningly deep, slashed the sands. From their shady depths leaped mule deer, which bounded stiff-legged to safety. An unusual gathering of ravens led us to a dead ten-point buck. From tracks, we could conjecture what had happened. A panther had pounced upon him from a ledge perhaps a week before, and, with help from coyotes, consumed all but the magnificent head. Buck's camp nestled against a cliff of white stone near a good spring. The pictographs were done in red paint made of cinnabar, or mercury ore, with which the Big Bend abounds. They were not fancy; the artists had merely drawn deer footprints and a few geo metric symbols. "I think this cliff was a message board," said Buck. "The deer prints told the next party along what game there was in the country. The other things must be directions nobody can understand any more." Comanche raiding parties may well have passed this site, for it lies on a logical route around the Chisos. In these mountains dwelt Formidable fortress, Pulliam Ridge in the Chisos Mountains probes the storm-roiled heavens. Gusts of wind shake plants on the desert floor, tossing grama grass and creo sote bushes, slapping the fat hands of the prickly pear, and rattling the naked stalk of the lechuguilla, an agave that dies once it blooms. Here the elements alone have their way with the land. As a cowboy once said of Big Bend, "It's not close to nowhere, so people ain't had a chance to ruin it."