Our trail ascends the way past waxy leaves
of Madrone trees with smooth and reddish
trunks and on up past some blooming cholla
in a cold March wind, and higher toward a
limestone ledge washed with desert varnish
looming above a pinon forest lending voice to
the constant gusty winds of western Texas.
Prickly pear cactus gleam like candles in the
sun while a canyon wren trills his notes from
higher branches of a ponderosa pine tree.
As we turn a corner, a gust of wind nearly
flattens me, but on we go through the snow
marked by claws of wandering mountain lions.
We enter a protected draw filled with agaves
and yuccas pointing skyward where Guadalupe
Peak rises up to some racing threads of cloud.
Our trail winds back and forth to the lea of the
wind until we stand atop the highest rock and
stare into an expansive stretch of a salt flat that
we can taste on our lips from 3000 feet below.