December 8, 2018

Guided Hike at Hueco Tanks State Park in Texas

Access to restricted areas is only available by guided tour in Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site. I had read about the protected pictographs in this park and wanted to go on one of the guided tours but was having trouble with cell phone reception before I arrived. I was delighted when I found that there was going to be a guided tour in one hour and there was one spot available. I moved quickly to take care of several matters (unhitching the trailer, breakfast, bathroom, and packing water in a day pack) in less than one hour so I could be at the meeting point on time.

I was pleased to discover that the tour guides were two of our camphosts, Dar and Tish, who had assisted me in getting my T@B backed into my campsite. I broke my own rule of not letting a man back my trailer in for me, because I was flustered, and because following my adventure last night I was practicing allowing others to assist me. Dar was very kind and didn’t make it look too easy. Apparently the one axle and the short length of my T@B does complicate backing up.

I was so delighted to be able to join this hike and to be able to see these pictographs. Dar and Tish are an amazing team as they guide groups into the delicate ecosystem and instruct on the history, lore, and science of the area. At times we would go into narrow areas in small groups of 4 or 5. This photo was taken within one of these narrow areas as he shared information about the pictographs found on the rock surfaces. I appreciated that Dar would provide us with the views of different experts on the time periods and origins of the work, and the meanings, but would also give his own thoughts and encouraged us to search for our own meaning. His technique of guiding allowed me to explore my own impressions of the work. Meanwhile Tish would be outside describing to the rest of the group the human made bowls in the rocks, and the plants. She has made it her focus to study the plants of the park and their uses in healing, clothing, and shelter.

If you visit this park and want to take a hike, try to schedule ahead at least one week and feel welcome to request a hike led by Dar and Tish.

I also discovered that Dar has written a book. I got my hands on a copy and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The book is “The Journey” by Dar Sackett and available at Amazon and Seattle Book Company. The book is designed as a series of diary entries over the span of a year recording the lessons learned by a group of wandering students seeking answers to life questions who meet a man who travels with them and serves as their teacher. The book is an easy read, but the messages of each entry are deep with meaning. I found lessons that I’ve already learned and others that I will want to ponder further.