Cenizo Journal Fall 2021 - Page 22

CONFESSIONS OF A SADDLE TRAMP :

Horseback Riding River Road

BY SHANNON KING
Sometimes the land wants you . It pulls you . It reminds you of your place in this world .
I was lucky enough to find my place here in Brewster County . To have the chance to become something more and the strength to do it .
This journey really began in the spring of 2019 , with a goal to ride all the Texas state parks allowing horses . To go it alone . Now , after twenty-two state parks , two national parks , five national areas and numerous Army Corp and local parks across Texas - here I am . A place I ’ ve been continually drawn toward since first exposure .
The desert moves me . The wide-open spaces and secret places , the animals and plants who thrive in this environment – often against the odds . It speaks to a tenacity we could all have more of . There is a conviction here that resonates .
A lot of people visit the Big Bend , some live in it , many get lost in it – but almost everyone who comes acquires something special . I am no different .
Few , however , traverse the national park on horseback . Horse camping is primitive , only one site of ten has a corral , many are difficult to access with a trailer . A confident mount , sure-footed and in good shape , is required . Roads and trails are longer than they seem , 77 ° feels closer to 90 °, and everything can kill you ( ok maybe that ’ s an exaggeration but then again …)
Now with home nearby , my horse Dex and I have set a goal to ride all the sections of Big Bend National Park . And why not ? Big Bend is 800,000 acres ( approximately 1,250 square miles ) of perfectly uncluttering , level-setting perspective . Time slows down here . I remember myself .
Follow the Ross Maxwell Scenic drive ( or Old Maverick Road if you like it rough ) to the ghost settlement of Castolon and you ’ ll see proof that way hardier souls than I have traveled this land and made their life here .
Since the early 1900 ’ s Americans have been farming and living along the Rio Grande , braving Native Americans , Mexican raiders , drought and hardship . We

22 Cenizo Fall 2021