‘I want it to represent where my little sister lives’: Family of hiker who died near mountain hikes in her memory

Local News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Just weeks after her sister was swept away in flash floods near the Franklin Mountains and Jan Sumrall Memorial Trailhead, Sarah Garcia took a memorial hike on Saturday to the last spot that the two spent together watching a sunset.

“The last time I was up here, we shared a sunset and, you know, she was still alive,” Garcia said of her younger sister Christina Garcia-Mata. “And I kind of want to do this hike so I can share a sunset with her whenever I want. It doesn’t have to be the end of something.”

Sarah said that she doesn’t want her sister’s death to overshadow who she was when she was alive and she doesn’t want the mountains to represent a place of tragedy, especially since Christina loved hiking and being out there when she visited El Paso from Austin.

“The reason that I’m taking this hike today is because I don’t want this mountain to represent where my little sister died,” Sarah said. “I want it to represent where my little sister lives.”

One of Christina’s long-time friends Amber Acosta joined Sarah on the hike, tearing up as she described how she felt when she heard the news.

“When I found out that Christy had passed and I figured out that she was here in El Paso, I just had this overwhelming sense of, she was where she was meant to be — she was home, she was home,” Acosta said.

Photo courtesy of Sarah Garcia.

Sarah made the hike with family and read a poem written by Christina about El Paso, in which she talks about the mountains and her pride of the culture instilled in her while growing up here.

“I am from a sizzling comal, from the land of green chilis and flour tortillas. I am from the Chihuahuan Desert, where thunderbirds rise from the Franklin Mountains, and sunsets are painted by the hands of God. It smells like desert rain on hot sand. I am from the Rio Grande, where the ocotillos and poppies bloom. I am from card-playing trash talkers, from Mary, Danny, Sarah-Rubios, and Garcias intertwined. I’m from the tight-knit and protective nurturers. From treat people the way you want to be treated, and Dios te bendiga m’ija. I’m from saint-worshipping curanderos who light candles and honor La Virgen and St. Jude. I’m From El Chuco, maiz y frijoles. From la frontera where distilled spirits clandestinely cross borders. And small hands tend to cotton fields. I am from a long line of proud people who worship the sun that shines within.”

Christina Garcia-Mata

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