Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bumble Bar, Bee, Bell Trail, and Blogs(Garner SP)

This weekend's hiking destination was Garner State Park and it delivered! I'm excited to be writing up this trip report and hope I can remember the small details that made the trip so sweet. Because it's such a long drive...over three hours each was necessary to overnight it. Thomas and I got lucky it wasn't crowded considering Garner gets something like half a million visitors each year. I find that to be a staggering number!

We got to the park Saturday afternoon and made camp fairly quickly. Actually I think I've never been more happy to be out of a car than that day. I was quite hung over because of my drinking stunt the night before. I went out with a couple of buddies of mine and partied all night Friday. At the time I figured it wouldn't be a big deal because I knew I wouldn't be hiking until Sunday, and would have plenty of time to rest up. But yeah, the car ride was a bitch. It didn't help that we were in hill country and I felt like I was on the roller coaster from hell.

After setting up camp we went on a small walk and I was starting to get a better idea of how pretty that place was, despite all the man made structures everywhere in the camp ground. But this was car camping and man made structures are part of it. Car camping has it's perks though, such as watching dvds on laptops and having a real bathroom! Anyway, the short walk Friday afternoon had me feeling much better and set the tone for the rest of the trip which was glorious.

Saturday night got down into the 30's but I stayed nice and warm in my bag especially with the liner I bought for it. I even got hot a couple of times and had to unzip. Though the bag performed well, I'm thinking about getting a different kind for next winter. I like goose down because it's lightweight and it's insulating ability is excellent, but on the downside(no pun intended) if the down gets're out of luck. Down takes FOREVER to dry. So I'm thinking about going synthetic next winter. It will be heavier to carry, but could be well worth it.

At dusk about 14 deer came trotting into camp and we were able to get some pictures, although I doubt mine came out very well in such low light and won't post them. I love deer and am always happy to see them. A couple of bucks sparred a little which was a visual treat and I could hear their horns clacking together. I also saw a skunk that night! I think it's the first one I've seen outdoors that wasn't road kill, and I felt pretty lucky to catch a good glimpse as it scampered along the ground only feet away. Thomas saw what we think was the same skunk under his truck the next morning before the sun came up. Skunks are cool. Sunday morning we broke camp and set out on what turned out to be one of the best hikes for me yet. The weather couldn't have been more perfect either.

I think the trails at Garner are amongst my favorites now because they are quite technical and FUN. I couldn't help but laugh out loud several times as I was trekking really was that fun and it felt so great having natural ground under my feet again. The place is full of rocky outcroppings(I love those)with plenty of steep ascents and joint jarring descents. We had beautiful views through out much of the hike as we traversed giant hills, hugged contours, and topped out on ridges. Several areas of the trail were in fact dangerous due to loose rock under foot. One false step is all it would take to go sliding down a steep rocky slope, or falling off an edge. It was great, but proper footwear is a definite must! ;)

I finally had the realization during this trip that I'd rather go up hill than down. I never thought I would take that stance, but I truly understand it now. Going down is in fact harder. It puts great demand on the joints, feet, and muscles in order to control the descent. Our first climb of the day felt incredibly easy and I was able to practice a gait mountaineers use which turned out to be very helpful in conserving energy and saving muscle strength. I used the gait several times and was surprised I climbed so many hills without feeling like I wanted to die. That's progress! I also paced myself better and felt I could have gone on for several more miles.

Sunday morning we broke camp and set out on what turned out to be a totally sweet trek. Texas Hill Country is so beautiful and pictures never do it justice. Garner has a ton of wildlife and on the list of sightings this time were tons of deer, a skunk, a Mexican Jay, some kind of dark colored hawk, and several other species of birds. At one point while being high up top standing at a place called Diana's Patio, a large buzzard practically grazed Thomas's head as it flew over. That was kinda least from my point of view! On the drive home a Great Blue Heron(I think it was a GBH) flew across the road and was silhouetted in a most lovely sunset.

One of the greatest things about this trip was how much I learned. I was able to find out what my gear will do for me, I was able to practice more navigation, I had the realization that going up is better than going down, I learned to pace myself better, and I mastered the art of putting on clothes and taking them off which sounds funny, but in hiker speak that's a very important skill.

Now to explain the strange title of my post. Thomas and I decided to hang out at a pretty spot near a trail junction and grab a snack. I pulled out a Bumble Bar, which is packaged in a bright orange wrap with a graphic of a bee on it. Shortly after pulling out my bumble bar, a bee showed up and started buzzing around me and landed on my arm. Thomas and I couldn't help but laugh at the sheer folly of it. Then of course I noticed that the trail junction we were at had "Bell" trail as one of the choices. Then I stated how I couldn't wait to BLOG about it, and was amused even further. It was probably one of those you had to be there moments.

In closing I must say I was sad leaving the outdoors and parting company with my friend who gets it the same way I do. These outings are never long enough but always cherished. Enjoy the pics!

Day One: The photos taken on the first day are from the stroll we took around the camping area next to the Frio River. Such a beautiful place.

The water was rushing and it sounded amazing
Close up of the cliffs towering over the camping grounds. We would see several different angles of this through out the hike the next day.

The above two photos are a different view of the cliffs from the campground.

Cypress Roots were sprawled out all over the ground. I love Cypress trees!

The water was crystal clear and like glass in places

Bent Cypress
Reflection of sky, tree, and boulder in the glass like water

Day Two:Some kind of Yucca reaching into the path to harass

Cactus filled slope. The next several shots are of the many views seen along the hike...

Me on the Bell trail. This was a very nice part of the hike I thought. Thomas on Bell can't see him if you aren't looking carefully. Click on the photo

Diana's Patio. These rock formations were fun to navigate.

Close up of Plant growing up through rock at Diana's Patio

George's Patio
The hill in front towards the left of the shot is the back side of the cliffs over looking the campground. It looks so small in this shot. Here is the same hill only closer.

Great view...of the hills even.

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