The Beauty Beneath
It was pitch black, and we were in the middle of nowhere. We got out of the car, surrounded by stars sprinkled against the night’s sky… the crisp mountain air filled our lungs as we both took in a deep breath. We looked at each other and our faces said it all, we knew we’d found a little piece of heaven in Alpine, Texas – just 6.5 hours west of Austin. That’s where our journey began.
We approached our tiny home for the next few days, booked on Airbnb a week prior to our departure. The rental didn’t look special, it was a tan box, on tan sand, littered with tan rocks, on a landscape decorated by tan plants. The lack of color misrepresented the feelings we’d felt upon arriving, but I knew to listen to my intuition. After parking our rental car in front of the container house, we approached the front door and opened it to be greeted by warm and welcoming energy.
The rustic wooden walls and shelves were decorated with brightly-colored cow-inspired works of art, reflecting the farm culture so deeply rooted within many rural Texas communities. The interior of the home evoked a contrast in feelings experienced while examining the external appearance of the tiny abode… a gentle reminder from the universe. After further admiration of the home, we settled into bed discussing the next day’s possibilities. We made to enjoy the sunrise, have breakfast together, and go for a hike at Hancock Hill afterward, leaving the rest of the day up to fate.
The next morning, we awoke to the most beautiful sunrise. The sky looked as if an artist’s paintbrush had danced across the sky, leaving bursts of color in its wake. It was a beautiful contrast to the colorless desert landscape. As we made breakfast and listened to music, we noticed three horses grazing across a ravine – one my husband lovingly dubbed “Ole’ Painted Face,” due to a grey patch stretching across his face.
Everything felt so right about this trip and way of life. Were we testing what would become our future lifestyle? I wasn’t quite sure, but I planned on enjoying the journey to finding out the answer. We finished our breakfast and were out the door by 11 AM. We were operating on what the locals called “Alpine Time,” and that was easy to maintain with no obligations or agenda. We jumped in the car and made our way to the trail to begin our hiking adventure.
Hancock Hill is a trail I found on the Alltrails app, and I briefly did some research online – by research I mean I looked at some photos and read a few reviews. Intrigued by the art installations created by students at a nearby university at the top of the hill and the moderate rating, I decided it would be an interesting trail to conquer, without pushing ourselves too hard. People that reviewed the trail shared how they’d hiked with children and dogs on this trail without any issues, so surely we could handle any challenges that may arise. We arrived at the trailhead around 11:30 AM and began our ascend up Hancock Hill. The sun was coming out from behind the clouds, and the day would prove to be warmer as the hours passed. Halfway up the trail, we began shedding layers of clothing and decided to stop to take in the scenery.
After pushing myself and focusing on my breath during my ascension, the trail’s peak came into my line of vision. I immediately began to celebrate internally, because I knew making it to the top to over a 4700-foot elevation would be no problem. As my feet began to level out, I approached a rock on which to sit and catch my breath, promptly celebrating my accomplishment with an impromptu photo shoot and a celebratory high-five with my pup. I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment and got to see the art installations at the top. Of course, before being properly diagnosed with epilepsy in 2007, I never thought something like this would even be a challenge. Now, some days, I’m reminded to be grateful for the ability to walk and be mobile. That hike was a reminder to be grateful for the ability to breathe. Even when living with epilepsy, it can be so easy to take so much for granted.
Hancock Hill taught me a lesson and conquering the trail gave me a sense of accomplishment I’ll not soon forget. It was also a reminder that I am so abundant in my life and sometimes too focused on what’s next or how to make more money to take a step back and appreciate all that I already have. “Alpine Time” helped me to realize just how little I need to be happy. We experienced tiny living for only a few days, but Alpine, Texas and Hancock Hill were BIG adventures for my mindset and realizing that I am limitless… unless I place limits on myself.