After a restless night we packed our gear and covered the tracks from our camp. Our intention was to make our way into Texas, but there was something that beckoned us to remain in the area. We began to see and feel things that are still hard to put into words. Was the sleep deprivation beginning to mess with our heads, or was there a higher spiritual power at work?
Our medical training suggested food poisoning, but this was unlikely as the team had been fasting for several days. We headed towards the adobe structures near the foothills to see if they held any answers. A man sat inside wrapping a small circle of sticks with leather and sinew. None of the men said anything to him, but he understood why we had come. He spoke a thousand words with his eyes alone. It filled us with a realization that our quest for Trouble needed to go deeper. If we discovered the unknown would we ever return? Were we stuck in a dream? Was this the afterlife?
We came upon a father and son walking along a road into the horizon. They asked us if we were hunters, and we told them about our search for Trouble. They told us tales of triumph and failure while tracking big game in the area. The father spoke in a low tone as he gave us these parting words of wisdom. “Finding them, killing them, skinning them. That’s the easy part. It’s carrying them out that’s the hard part. You don’t realize how far you’ve gone until you start to walk back. That’s the real work.”
We ascended down a hand-made ladder into a cave below the earth’s surface. The cool air filled our lungs and the stalactite structures had a calming disposition. Had we finally reached the end, or was this a new beginning?
We awoke the next morning in the same spot where we had pitched camp the night before. None of the men said a word. We knew it was time for us to leave the desert.