Days off


We decided to go for a nice long hike on Monday. We found a good one and drove south on Ruby Road to the trailhead. It was a slow and bumpy ride on the old dirt road. We passed the abandoned mining town of Ruby, which looked like something out of an old western. There were a lot of border patrol trucks parked on the side of the road. They park at scenic vistas and watch for “illegals” coming north. For everyone’s sake I hope they’re just bird watching and playing Sodoku.

Eventually Ruby Road became one lane and we had to honk at backhoes doing road work so they can make room to let us pass. We cautiously drove through streams that cross the road in our little Honda Civic and eventually made it to our trail. Atascosa Trail.

The trail passed through land that burned up in a fire a few years back, and there were still signs of it everywhere. There was a lookout tower at the top once-upon-a-time, but unlike the vegetation, it won’t grow back.

Not far up the mountain, I saw a black backpack hidden just off  the trail. Around these parts you can find all sorts of discarded items from people crossing the border. Lots of empty gallon water jugs with a weaved shoulder strap. Random clothing. Food wrappers written in Spanish. I once found a sweet pair of binoculars that were stashed with a lot of trash in a cave. So when I saw the backpack, I knew what it probably was. A story unfolded as we opened it up.


I was a bit excited to find such a pack as I love the idea of treasure hunting and had always fantasized about stumbling upon something of value. Claudia told me it just made her sad seeing the pack, moldy and abandoned. Besides the felonious sack, there was some clothing, an ace bandage, an empty candy wrapper, two containers of mayo, and an empty Gatorade bottle. I tried to imagine how this ended up discard here, and what happened to the owner. I think the story the bag told us was not a happy one. It had a sobering effect.

After that, we started to gain elevation and the view became more glorious. Endless rolling hills, layer upon layer of mountain profiles. It’s a different beauty, striking and stark.





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