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Elephant Tusk

"South Rim By 60," I used to say. That was my challenge - to hike to the southernmost edge of Big Bend's Chisos Mountains before my legs gave out. I had climbed the 3,000-foot trail up out of the Basin, and I had scrambled another 3,000 feet up Mount Emory with my brother-in-law.

But until 2006 I had fallen short of my goal - to follow the trail south to the far edge, where I would camp for the night and look down on the rugged Chihuahuan Desert, the Rio Grande and the mountains of Mexico.

Two years before my self-imposed deadline, my sister and I made it to the South Rim. This photo, capturing the distinctive peak of Elephant Tusk, was made the evening we arrived.

We watched the sun disappear, then found our campsite with the help of a flashlight. The temperature dropped, the wind freshened and dinner was a frigid affair. The stars were amazing.

The next morning, we watched the sun rise over the Sierra del Caballo Muerto (Dead Horse Mountains), then found our tent in a tree when we returned to camp. It was worth the effort.

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