#sparktravels: Caprock Canyons: Where the Buffalo Roam

by Carson Blair

It’s 4 am. I’m foggy eyed, exhausted to the core and my brain does not recognize the chilling darkness as morning. Yet, I get up — as excited and wide-eyed as one can be at the first dawn of day, for I am yearning for pure adventure.

I prance outside to chilly weather, immediately hop into the warm running truck and soon, with my boyfriend by my side and his child-like lab, Hondo, in the back, the East Texas pine trees blur with every passing car and fade into city buildings, windmills and finally canyons. With the assistance of Shakey Graves singing from the radio, Logan, Hondo and I feel as if we are transported into a different world when in reality, we are still in the Texas terrain — just south-east of Amarillo in Quitaque, where lies Caprock Canyons State Park.

Carson Blair visits Caprock Canyons State Park, camping, exploring and photographing the expanse of the Texas terrain 
The perfectly desaturated peachy orange canyons set the hue for the scenery

Driving up into the park, Logan and I immediately spot buffalo — a creature foreign to me which I’ve longed to capture with my eyes. They walk right by our truck, and we can hear their breaths and see their bristling hair in the wind as they pass ten feet in front of us — the entire heard oblivious to us mere gaping mortals.

Once we set up camp (rather, once Logan set up camp and I do my best to lend a hand where I’m needed) we make the executive decision to use the gas in our tank and drive to further explore the alien terrain, as we are both pretty weary from the eight-hour drive. Our stomachs drop as we go up and down hills, navigating through the hilly canyons. The setting sun gleams off of the rocks, giving the setting a gentle warm hue. With the windows rolled down, some folk-alternative tunes serving as background music and unanswered texts bouncing away due to the lack of service, I feel alive.

Carson Blair visits Caprock Canyons State Park, camping, exploring and photographing the expanse of the Texas terrain 
Logan and Hondo rest at the top of the canyon, enjoying the breathtaking view

Just as the day has a warm yellow hue, the night is cold with blue chills and wind. We are kept away through the night wondering if the tent will blow away with us inside — rolling down the canyons like tumbleweed. The unease adds to the adventure, and in the morning we wake in the same place as were the night before and have a sense of security. Pancakes are flipped on a cast iron skillet and propane burner — making them taste all the sweeter.

I lace up my trusty hiking boots, de-saturated from the wear and tear of other adventures, grab my backpack with the essentials — my water bottle, chocolate-chip Clif Bar and camera — thus we begin the nine-mile hike up the rocks and canyons. Hondo leaps ahead in excitement and, with his two additional feet, leads our exhibition. My eyes are equipped with so many foreign things — huge orange rock formations, caverns with ivy and tiny flowers surrounding the area slightly fried from the blaring sun. We reach the top, and like Bon Iver says in his song Holocene, “I can see for miles, miles, miles.” This perfect hue of orange takes over the scenery, and the canyons seem infinite as the depth is truly seen from the overlook. Although my body is drained from the constant climb, I am rewarded with a spectacular scene. After resting, we descent down the canyon. We are met by the purple sunset making its way beneath the horizon… A true beauty in itself. This is pure magic — our home, our Earth.

 

Carson Blair visits Caprock Canyons State Park, camping, exploring and photographing the expanse of the Texas terrain 
The purple aftermath of the sun drowning below the earth is pure magic and bliss

Leaving and packing up is always the roughest part of an adventure. After a few days in the unfamiliar, it is time to take another eight-hour road trip but this time back to East Texas. I throw my hiking boots which showcase new adventure scars in the back of the truck, take my shotgun seat and reluctantly ride off the campsite that served as our home. Logan cranks up the radio, Hondo chills in the back and I am in the passenger seat feeling my phone vibrate in my pocket as we reach civilization with service. As we drive further, the buffalo that were so close and clear are now blurry bohek to my eyes. The canyons turn into windmills, the windmills into city buildings and the city buildings into pine trees. We are no longer where the buffalo roam. •

Carson Blair visits Caprock Canyons State Park, camping, exploring and photographing the expanse of the Texas terrain 
Although our feet dangle so high above the ground, we are grounded in the security of adventure and curiosity

Driven by creativity, Carson Blair is a second-year Radio-Television-Film major. Her interest in film stems from her deep passion for photography, and she pursues freelance photography outside of classes. In her free time, she can be found adventuring around Austin and collaborating with other creatives.

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