Several years ago after presenting a paper on coyote behavior at a symposium on predators in Kerrville, Texas I struck up a conversation with a friend and west Texas mountain lion hunter by the name of Bill Pat McKinney. B.P. was working for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on the Black Gap area and kept an eye on lions crossing out of Mexico with the intent of eating the desert bighorn sheep residing at the “Gap”. B.P. intimated that he and his wonderful wife Bonnie were retiring and heading into Mexico to run the big El Carmen project for Cemex. It was a huge undertaking of restoring the mountainous country back to its original wilderness state which included restocking the range with indigenous wildlife that had been killed off after decades of uncontrolled hunting by the locals. I had heard of this wild country with its black bear and lions so was interested when B.P. invited me to come down after he and Bonnie had settled in.
Within a few months I found myself on the banks of the Rio Grande River awaiting the boat to cross my equipment into Mexico. Soon the rowboat arrived with B.P. and his men aboard ready for the long trip into the mountains. Once on the south bank of the river he paid the boatman and we were loaded into the pickup and headed on the long journey of 50 miles of dirt road. After passing through a military checkpoint the rest of the trip was uneventful until we reached the base camp below the brooding 9000 ft. crest of El Carmen.
For the next week B.P. guided me through a region that had been lost in time, forgotten by the modern world because of its rugged remoteness. We rode mules and horses into the canyon holds and viewed panoramas that would defy the imagination of most people. It was truly a land lost to the 20th century. Carmen mountain whitetail and black bear abounded as we crossed streams and forested canyons. Bear skulls lay in abundance , evidence of a great population where they could die of old age in this forgotten land. It was truly a journey back in time for this Texan and his cameras.
Over the next decade I would return to continue my documentation of this fairy tale land and visit my old Texas friends, B.P. and Bonnie, in their beautiful hacienda nestled in the depths of a huge canyon in the El Carmen range.
I hope to return and continue my photographic endeavors in the El Carmen but will not do so until some semblance of civility returns to this great country of Mexico. Enjoy the images herein of a wild and woolly land…the majestic Sierra del Carmen.