11/11/2011 Twin Sisters

El grand Hermanas gemelas, 6,109 and 6,127 ft. above sea-level.  The sisters are igneous intrusion uplifted from scalding ash and liquid red earth thirteen million years of memory ago.  Their mother, the Paisano caldera gave rise to the Paisano Range (or the Alps of Texas) located west and south of Alpine, Texas of Brewster County.                                            Twin Sisters & their southerly neighbor Ranger Peak, 6,256 ft. above sea-level.

I know little and I wish I knew a lot about the genesis of the Twin Sisters.  Like the Twin Towers were in New York the Sister peaks have stood out to travelers through here for centuries.  Buried in over six-thousand feet of stories of God, nature, and man I have heard conflicting stories and even conflicting names for the natural wonders.

But not Twin Peaks…

According to Joe Nick Patoski and Laurence Parent’s Texas Mountains and Bill Macleod and William MacLeod’s Davis Mountains Vistas they are called the Twin Peaks.  Another source on this is the Twin Peaks Liquor Store and Twin Peaks Storage on Holland Avenue in Alpine.  Of beauty and style Twin Sisters is more legitimized.  North of the Twin Sisters is Twin Mountains (6,667 and 6,899 feet above sea-level).  It reads better than north of the Twin Peaks is Twin Mountains.

“Alpine Lights”



Remote even by Texas standards Alpine, Texas was established in the latter 19th century.  The perpetual waters from the Bugress Spring made the Alpine Creek valley a stopping point for locomotives steaming west through Paisano Pass.  Today Alpine is home of Sul Ross State University, formally Sul Ross Teacher’s College and is the premier gateway to Big Bend National Park.  The conned peaks and intrusion lined ridges which surround the city make it one of the most beautiful places in the United States.  If not for the natural wonders being exclusively reserved for the contentment of cattle Alpine would command a market of outdoors recreation and wilderness preservation.

Twin Sisters, Alpine from Hancock Hill



Summit North or South Franklin Peaks in El Paso and you are ceded a Texas hiker’s view of El Paso at 7,186 or 6,808 ft. above sea-level respectively.  On the Twin Sisters’ tops there may be a charge of criminal trespassing or rancher’s bullet with the unique view of Alpine.  There are great lessons of ecological preservation and tourism brought to us by the largest urban park in the country, Franklin Mountains State Park.  On one hand there is camping and miles of canyon, ridge, and summit trails.  Just south of the park on El Paso’s Ranger Peak there is a scenic roadway and roadside park overlook.  Nearby there is also a tramway to the summit of Ranger Peak.  Twenty minutes east of the city is Hueco Tanks State Park.  The economic and ecological setting in the Franklin Mountains over El paso and the park around the city are sound proof that Texas summits like the Twin Sisters are better than just pretty views.

Twin Sisters from US 90

           ts (184)

Moonlight and sunlight,

stardust and morning dew dress the high twin cones….

No wood or forest shade the sides nor ferns or flowers in the steep landslides.

Storm clouds like caldera ash bathe in gloom mountain mysteries of the twin domes.


Paisano Peak, 6,084 feet above sea-level, two miles sw of the Sisters.







When compared to other western states like Colorado, California, or Washington Texas mountains do not grab attention elevation-wise.  Though it should be remembered that Texas is actually a Southern state.  And in contrast with Virginia, Louisiana, or Tennessee, Texas mountains are on the other hand quite great.  Yet, compared to anywhere the Texas mountains are the most unique variety I’ve ever seen.  And south and east of the Rocky Mountains they are the highest in the nation.

I was raised in northeast Texas but my sister, brother, and I grew up visiting Trans-Pecos Texas.  We saw the Twin Sisters on Big Bend and Davis Mountains trips.  Before I was a year old I’d witnessed Emory and Guadalupe Peaks. The Twin Sisters highways US 90/67 and State 118 were lovely travels by youth.  I never saw another place as different from the rest of the world as West Texas highways. But I never remembered the Twin Sisters.  Tomorrow I’ll never forget…




The light fades and is folded away.
Green mountains and distant blue ones turn black.
Night falls on the Twin Sisters where the

Twin Sisters and moon rise.



The atmosphere around and above the Twin Sisters are broken in the summertime by a season of lightning and wavy walls of rain.  Normally, at least. Last year and probably this year drought has settled on their rocky faces and on the lands for thousands of square miles around.  The majority of the storms I have filmed or photographed are from 2009-10.  Sometimes the Sisters cast an annoying spell by somehow soaking up or evaporating storms at the gates of Alpine.  Dark wondrous weather will roam from west to east and then some of them will halt completely over the two peaks.  Though some of the life giving rains and good old lightning do not pass from the mountains to the valley and wall clouds broken asunder, the Twin Sisters’ storms are glorious even distantly, all the same.




                                                                                                                                                             As long as I am here I will photograph.                                                                                        As short as time I will photograph.                                                                                                  Till the Twin Sisters become one sis and one becomes none                                                        I will take these pictures.

IMG_3787 IMG_3887 IMG_3897


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