Monday, January 30, 2006

Armadillo Trails

Went on a fabulous hike today with my friend Mykel and her friend Thomas, who turned out to be a very funny guy and a pleasure to be around. We named the hike "Armadillo Trail", because we saw so many! They were out foraging and doing their cute little dillo thing. I was lucky to get some excellent shots of them and at one point was so close to one I could almost reach out and touch it. I didn't though, because I didn't want it to know I was there so I could continue to photograph it. I also saw a beautiful blue bird...maybe an Eastern Blue, not sure...will have to consult the field guide. A red headed woodpecker of some kind popped up on the scene but was too high for me to get a good shot of. Along the trail there was water and I photograhed a couple of basking turtles on rocks. There were also huge fish that could be seen swimming slowly in the water. The big ones were carp, the other fish were a variety of sun perch, black bass, and minnows. I enjoyed climbing giant boulders, and feeling the most incredible breeze on my skin. The wind made an amazing lush sound as it swooped over the hills and through the tallest of the trees. Yet below the canopy it was cool and calm and the most serene place I've been to in a very long time.

The trails were empty while we were there and very secluded. We treked up and down steep rocky hillsides, slid around on some of the steeper muddy inclines, went to the falls and marveled at the beautiful erosion all around us. I slipped once or twice and fell into the brook, getting all muddy but it was great fun. Click on all images to see them larger.
To try and give perspective, in the above shot I am up high on a steep hillside looking down at the rushing water below. It was exhilerating and slighty scary at first.
Large boulders jutting from hillside. I climbed these.
So beautiful! Look how incredibly blue the sky is.
The beginning falls.

Second falls, a few miles from first falls. This is water coming from the top of a loamy bluff. I fell here as I was moving up the hillside a bit to get a differnt shot of water coming from out of a hole near the ground. The ground was soft and prone to breaking off into the water. I had to be careful where I stepped.
Here is the water coming from hole near ground. This is to the left of the falls and I'm on the opposite bank hangin on!
Isn't this a stunning view of some grass? I loved how the sunlight lit it up.
More pretty golden grass.
My boots look surprisingly clean after having been in the water and in mud. Here I am standing on a large fallen log about to jump down on the other side.
Tree fungus. I thought it looked like big clams juttng from the trunks. This fungus was so beautiful and all over the place.
Nice place to rest and sun don't you think? The water was so clear you can see the base of the rock under the water line.
Thank you Mykel for the great hike! Honorable mention goes to Thomas, although I don't have a photo of him. Thanks to you too Thomas.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Natural Bridge Cavern trip

I took Ben to Natural Bridge Caverns last week and he loved it of course. I think this might be the best show cave in Texas because a couple of the chambers are HUGE and the formations are spectacular. There is a cave column in this one that has to be several million years old.
Beginning of tour. This is the natural bridge that is what is left of a collapsed sink hole.

Large cave column. They refer to this one as the "Totem Pole"

Cave drapery and flow stone I believe.

More formations.

looking down. I wonder what was beyond the crawl space and wish I could have crawled down to find out.

Stalagmites reaching towards the ceiling.

"Fried Eggs" These are interesting formations that do actually look like fried eggs. The calcite concentrates in the center forming a more yellowish color.

This shot is so dark because I'm far away from this deep opening into a very impressive tunnel that a car could drive through. It was kinda spooky but I would have climbed down in a heartbeat to explore the area below.

This massive column was tremendous and has cave drapery all over it. It is estimated that it's several million years old.

Very large stalagmites and flow stone. The bolder in the bottom right corner is a giant piece of rock that broke off the ceiling and fell about a million years ago.

I thought this formation was very brain like or coral like as if from the sea. I think it's one of my favorite pics I took on the tour.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hiking with my girls

I took Samantha, Caitlin and a friend of theirs hiking yesterday along the Barton Creek Greenbelt. We hiked 5.56 miles total. It was so much fun and they loved it! Here are some pictures I took that I am going to put in a scrapbook someday. Click on the images to see them larger.
Doesn't this look like a big dragon or maybe a crocodile?

Here Caitlin hangs on for dear life as she is climbing up a cliff!

In the groove of things. There are many parts of the greenbelt that are interesting. In this particular place along the river, the bed is solid rock where one can see erosion at work. It's quite amazing how water can create such a beautiful affect!

Sam writes a note to the cave dweller who lives in a couple of small caves in the cliffside. Notice the view? This was a thrilling climb up into the cliffside to reach this small room in the side of the rock. There are several caves along the greenbelt and they are well kept secrets. Someday we will get a group of cavers together and go explore one of the largest ones that is about a mile or two long.

Among the hiking adventures, we found all kinds of intersting things to look at and had fun climbing around on big boulders. We even found a very tiny turtle that we brought home to live a life of pampering. This turtle is only about the size of a quarter. Soon I will take pictures of it and post them.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

More Caving...This Time Long Horn Caverns

Here are some pictures from my caving trip to Longhorn Caverns. This shot is from below a sink hole. Isn't it gorgeous? The sky is so amazingly blue!

The shot below is a tunnel that leads upwards. I call this the birth canal. It would be a tight squeeze!

Below a hole in the rock that was formed over thousands of years by water. These holes are made by the water swirling around in a whirlpool.

More holes in solid rock. This leads to who knows where. It's large enough to crawl into and it seems the passage goes for a ways.

Ben walking through a large room. Notice the scallopy formations on the ceiling. This was created by the river that ran underground for thousands of years creating an almost meringue look. Pie anyone?

More beautiful formations, including stalagtites.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

So I've lost some weight....

I didn't really start out trying to either. It's all the hiking and walking I've been doing and it's doing amazing things for my metabolism. I've been walking or hiking almost everyday now for a couple of weeks. It's paying off too in several ways. For instance, my clothing...especially a pair or two of my jeans, are getting lose on me. I'm constantly having to pull them up! I also have more endurance, can walk further and even go up several flights of stairs before getting winded. Go me!

I think the catalyst that got it all started was I decided to go back on anti-depressants. This time I found a drug with the help of my doctor that is working well for me so far. It's got me back in a motivated state and I'm not in front of the computer as much anymore. I have so many pictures to share too, and am trying to decide how to make them available to friends and family.

I'm also trying to decide if I want to chronicle my weight loss here or not. I feel like I need to journal it someway, but might only mention it here from time to time...that is if I'm doing a good job. *grin*

Caving, Hiking, Climbing...Getting Down and Dirty.

Went to InnerSpace Caverns today. We are fortunate to know the guide and he let us go on a special tour where we could explore some of the areas that most people probably never get to see. It was so much fun. I had to crawl a bit to get into a portion of the cave. It entailed crouching very low under a large overhang of rock and slowly crouching forward in a very narrow passage. We explored a couple of narrow and dark passages with the help of flashlights. At one point I could have gone further in, but it was very muddy and I didn't want to slither on my belly through some of the crawl space without some sort of coveralls on. If I had the right equipment and time, I would have in a heart beat! It was so FREAKIN AWESOME!!

Hiking, Caving, Climbing...

I can't get my photos loaded correctly, so my text will be out of order until I get the energy to jack with it some and fix it. Anyway, this is a cave "bellybutton"...the only one in InnerSpace. It was formed by water many thousands of years ago. Cool huh? I'm going to paint this someday.