An Epic Goodbye – A Friend Moves On

One of our kindred spirits is moving away.  After five whirlwind years as the interpretive ranger at Franklin Mountains State Park, Adrianna and her dog, Miss Kitty, headed off to live someplace new.  She moved here with enthusiasm for life and love of the great outdoors.  Quickly she learned about the park and the Chihuahuan Desert, then used her talents and knowledge to help so many others appreciate the area more.  We wanted to send her off to her new home with one final epic memory.

A water crossing was not we expected for the start of the hike.
Adrianna and Miss Kitty high-tail it across unexpected water at the start of the hike.

On her days off Adrianna would often leave town to explore wilderness near and far.  When she actually had free time locally some of us would join her on other adventures.  She was along on a three day dirt road mountain bike expedition to deliver books to a remote town.

Just before she moved three of us grabbed her for a day of hiking in one of the rare spots she hadn’t seen.  We went to a hidden slot canyon in the Robledo Mountains north of Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I was the only one in the team who had seen this gem before.

Before we even reached our destination a few episodes of side-splitting laughter had taken place.  Brissia knocked over a convenience store display case to get at the beef jerky. In a pecan orchard we took up-close pictures of half of a dead and dessicated fox as some sort of bizarre science experiment/photo contest.  It was going to be a good day.dscf1570

Upon arrival at our trailhead the group hit the first small snag.  There was some flowing water in the Rio Grande when we had expected a completely dry river bed.  Our socks were just a little wet after screaming and running through the stream and then climbing the slopes to the hidden canyon.

I’m not sure anyone really believed me that there was a slot canyon in these mountains, but they had joined me on enough adventures to hope that it would be at least interesting.  All were pleasantly surprised.  Within just a few feet of entering the small canyon mouth the walls began to narrow, rise and hang over the twisting and turning route. Jaws dropped, cameras came out and we strolled for three hours.  Sometimes we were all together. Occasionally one of us would wander off to study a feature that held personal intrigue.  We lunched under an ancient juniper tree – half dead yet still clinging to life.  Small bags of wildly varied foods were passed around to create the perfect backcountry buffet. Who knew that wasabi peas, jalapeño jerky and persimmons went together so well!dscf1541

We turned around after a stop were the canyon boxed up where high rock walls and a now-dry forty foot pour-off feature warned us of what it would be like to be stuck here in a flash flood.  The way back out of the canyon included more photos, stupid antics and curious finds.  The trip ended with a special treat.  Paul and Adrianna have their own little inside joke about s’mores.  They are always finding s’more ways to add that word into conversations, causing rolling eyes and sighs from traveling companions.  On this day we’d brought along everything needed for a quick campfire and s’mores.

After another quick run through the river to grab supplies from the truck, we had a small fire roaring, chairs to relax in and graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows for our snack.  We sat right in the sandy bed of the not-so-mighty Rio Grande and had a few more laughs before loading up for the drive home.img_3670

Adrianna is now on her way to the next stage of her life.  Thanks to social media we expect to stay in contact with each other and learn about epic adventures and unique places to visit.  Maybe we’ll even meet up in some remote canyon between west Texas and northern Nevada.  But for a friend such as this you don’t just say goodbye.  You go out and create one last epic memory.  Here’s to s’more happy trails, Adrianna.  We’re going to miss you.

Don Baumgardt is the chief adventurer at GeoBetty Tours, an El Paso, Texas-based company that leads guided tours in the region and provides do-it-yourself advice at

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