“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”
–Laurence Binyon


There is no real trail to San Jacinto Spring anymore, save for game tracks and the fading remnants left by the soles of the Ancients. Secreted in a corner of the desert where no one hardly goes, it lies there as an unlikely oasis in an even unlikelier land.

To know of it is a blessing in itself, blessings handed down from family and kin who roamed this country generations before it became a national park. When I was a boy in the lower Big Bend, we had no television and very little radio, so at night the primary entertainment was conversation and the telling of old stories.

That is how I first came to know San Jacinto Spring.

Being able to come here and enjoy the silence is yet another blessing. I have approached this spot from three directions on foot, and none of them are easy. Each is a long way from any road or maintained park trail.

This is a place where the shortest distance does not necessarily delineate along a straight line. Nestled hard against the rocky slopes of the Punta de la Sierra range, west toward Smoky Creek is a maze of malpais with one unexpected detour after another.

To the south the desert slopes away into dark colored rocky barriers filled with pour offs and clefts. It can be navigated, but be ready for more of those detours and some hard climbing.

No, the best approach is actually the least direct in nature. Looping north of Mule Ears, across Smoky Creek to Smoky Spring, and then down to the San Jacinto. Arguably it is the prettiest too, especially when this desert is in full bloom.

Yet once there the lens of the camera finds the spot difficult to capture, and no photograph could ever do this multi-hued panorama justice. Too much contrast between the white rock, near black outcroppings, reddish slopes of the Sierra de la Punta and the piercing blue sky above.

Oh, but what a veritable feast for the naked eye and other human senses. You have to stand there to truly believe it.

This essay is dedicated to those family members and kin who once told the old stories, so many voices rich in knowledge now fallen silent in the passage of time.

I only wish that I had listened more closely to what they had to say…

God bless to all,

Ben H. English
Alpine, Texas
USMC: 1976-1983
THP: 1986-2008

Author of ‘Yonderings’ (TCU Press)
‘Destiny’s Way’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’ (Creative Texts Publishers)
‘The Uvalde Raider’ (Creative Texts Publishers)

Facebook: Ben H. English

‘Graying but still game’

The Stable Performance Cars
Billy the Kid Museum
Tom Green County Library System
El Progreso Memorial Library
Crockett County Public Library
Far Flung Outdoor Center
Front Street Books
Bridgit Bailey-Giedeman
Vicki Shroyer
Chris Ryan
Mendell Morgan

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