Destinations · US Travel · USTravel

Alpine, Texas

The Desk and The View

Back in the Eighties, three students decided they needed a quieter place to study than their dorm rooms at Sul Ross University. They hauled a desk and a chair all the way up the hill behind their dorm. They greatly enjoyed their spot and spent a lot of time up there. One of them accidently left his notebook in the desk, and when he returned for it, he was surprised to see a hiker had signed it. The notebook, the desk, and the chair became the stuff of legends. By now the desk has been replaced two or three times and there are several filled notebooks in a museum. I kept running into suggestions to “Hike to The Desk” in my research for this area of Texas, so we did.

It isn’t the easiest hike. The trail is only 1.3 miles to the desk, but there is a 219 foot ascent on a rocky and uneven trail. Once up at the top there are several trails crisscrossing each other and we had to ask some other hikers where to go. It is on the opposite side of the hill from the university. I couldn’t believe they hauled a metal desk all the way up there! These bicycles in a tree let us know we were finally almost there:

Cal signing us in The Notebook
On the side of The Desk
Sul Ross University and Alpine view before our final descent

Once down, we visited Museum of the Big Bend, since it was located on the university campus. Being a fan of petroglyphs, I thought this 17 foot replica of a remote petroglyph was interesting. The original was done in six colors of pigment and belongs to a hunting gathering culture dating back to 700 AD. The meaning is unknown, although archaeologists think it relates to their belief system. It looks like a lot of scribbles to me, but what do I know?

There were some very old maps, and I also liked this recreation of a general store, back in the 1800’s:

An 1836 map of Texas, the first to show the Rio Grande to the 42nd parallel

There was an art festival going on in the town, which was a huge deal before COVID hit and canceled it last year. Someone in an information booth gave us a walking tour map to see Alpine’s murals. It was fun looking at these. These were some of my favorites:

A pretty little courtyard

If I could pick Alpine up and move it closer to my family in Denver, I would love living there. It is a small, walkable little university town with a lot of flavor. And the milkshakes and Mexican Wedding Cakes at Scoops Creamery weren’t bad either!

Next time – On the road through the Southwest

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