ALPINE, Texas – The wide-open skies of west Texas seem to come alive in Alpine. Sitting at the foothills of the Davis Mountains, this town in the middle of Trans-Pecos has broad views, a brewery, and books.
Home to Sul Ross State University since 1917, students in this part of the state have a unique setting for school. Mary Bones earned her undergraduate and masters degree from Sul Ross and serves as the interim director of museum of the big bend.
“Students who are interested in really being in the outdoors, this is the perfect outdoor classroom for all areas of interest,” Mary said.
Back in 1981, one student took that idea to heart.
“1981 Jim Kitchens and two of his friends decided they needed a place out of mountainside dormitory for a quiet place to go where they could study so they grabbed a desk and hauled it up a hill,” Mary said. “They started hanging out at the desk.”
That’s right, the desk as it’s known has been a Sul Ross State staple for several decades.
“This became a tradition here at Sul Ross to go up to Hancock Hill, which is right behind me, go up to the desk, open up one of the desk drawers and leave behind your thoughts, meditations, poems, whatever you wanted to in the notebook,” Mary said.
So we did what every Sul Ross student and several thousand Texans have done and huffed it up Hancock Hill. Being from a less elevated part of the state, it felt like the Rockies to me. Once you pass the bike tree you’ll find the desk with it’s glorious view of the valley.
“You can truly be in solitude and be able to look out across and past the city of Alpine and Sul Ross State University,” Mary said.
The notes written on the desk make you laugh, make you think, and make you contemplate this little ride called life.
“Going to school it’s very structured,” Mary said. “You have your classes, you have all of this from expectations and pressures put on you as a student and I think for our students to get out of their dorm room, leave the tablet and the cell phone behind, get out in nature and take that hike, that’s what makes the desk so unique. Totally student driven.”
The desk has been replaced four times over the years, when it’s time to bring it down the students do all the heavy lifting because the lifting of hearts this old piece of furniture offers Texans of all ages makes it well worth a stop on The Texas Bucket List.
“It sets us aside from every other university, I think,” Sierra said. “I mean every university has its own traditions but I think it’s funny and it will always be a memory for everyone.”