What a great trip! I knew it would be and am so happy I was able to go, but it was a sketchy start. When I woke up Saturday morning I was sick and having to run to the bathroom constantly. My heart sank because I thought I'd have to cancel and miss out on all the fun, but with modern medicine and a heaping dose of sheer will I was out the door. Ben had been extremely sick with a stomach virus and I knew I was taking a huge chance that I was getting the same thing, but I got lucky this time and was able to beat it. In attendance on this trip were Thomas, my friend Elliott, his girlfriend Amber, my daughter Caitlin, and myself.
Once we arrived at our destination(nice drive btw), we found that our camping spot was still being used by picnickers so we took advantage of the situation and did the only sensible thing...we hiked! We did a small three mile loop to get the blood going and then came back and made camp. Actually Amber, Elliott, and Caitlin ran off right away to explore the ridge behind our site as Thomas and I munched a bit while setting up our tents. They were rather loud and called out to me when they were sitting up on the ridge directly behind our campsite. Thomas announced "The Cleghorns have arrived" as he's shushing me because I'm yelling back. The timing of the comment and the context made it completely hilarious and I can always count on being entertained by his comedic prowess.
The day started out beautiful with the temps in the 50's, but as the sun went down it started to get pretty cold. The moon was full and astoundingly bright that night and the "kids" couldn't resist the opportunity for a game of hide and seek by moonlight. We could hear them running in the dark and sliding down the steep hillside behind us. I was a bit unnerved by their activity as I'm picturing someone taking a nasty fall into cactus or on some rocks. I kept my mind off of it by reading to Thomas from the Big Bend book he brought along, but was so relieved when they came back to camp and settled down. Elliott reported it was so bright up on the ridge that you could see facial expressions from ten feet away, yet it was dark and shadowy in the scrubby areas so perfect for their game. Caitlin reported later that it was some of the most fun she's had. Amber was equally as content.
That night it got really cold. We are guessing the temps were around the 27 degree mark. I stayed warm until about 4 in the morning when I woke up feeling chilled. I had to get up and go to the bathroom too, which is never fun in the middle of a cold night! But I was rewarded with a bunny sighting. As I was walking off to the privy, I encountered it in the middle of the trail. It was a baby and so adorable! I watched it for a few seconds before it disappeared into the underbrush.
After I got back to my tent, I was quite cold and quickly hunkered back down in my sleeping bag. I shivered some but for the most part warmed back up again. I then heard Elliott and Amber complaining in their tent about being cold. I contemplated getting up and moving in with them to offer my body heat, but no sooner had the thought entered my mind, I was back out again. I didn't wake up next until probably close to 9:30 am which seemed really late, but I was rested, happy, and ready for a fabulous day of hiking without a care in the world. Everyone else seemed in good spirits too despite spending a chilly night out.
Sunday's hike delivered. It was my birthday for one thing, and I couldn't believe the luck of being able to celebrate it in the great outdoors. It's a birthday I'll not soon forget. The hike we did was a 7 mile loop with several great climbs and stunning views. I was totally energized and met each hill with enthusiasm. Funny how before I always dreaded the hills and now I look forward to them. A good hill always means a great view at the top and I get a good sense of accomplishment when I reach the summits.
In fact I felt so good, I could have climbed hills all day yesterday. Of course I wasn't carrying a heavy load either, so that helped make a difference and the weather was perfect. There is no way I'd be doing that hike in the middle of the summer because it's all out in open desert like terrain and the heat in Texas hill country can get quite brutal. There were one or two areas that had big stands of yucca and that was really cool to see. Usually one sees big stands of prickly pear out in our hill country, but the yucca seemed to be the stars of the show this time.
As with all good things, our time in the outdoors had to come to an end. I didn't want it to either, especially after we arrived at the primitive camping area of the park. I wanted so bad to pitch my tent again and stay another night, but I suppose it's always good to leave wanting more and we'll have a great back packing adventure to look forward to in the future. We all had a great time and can't wait to get back out and do it again.
Very large Armadillo
Caitlin, Elliott, and Amber, posing for me while they were up on the ridge behind our camp
Beautiful clear water....this stream was directly behind our campsite
Wow, look how skinny Thomas is getting
Darkness taking over
Big Blue sky! The weather was gorgeous!
Wide open Country
Caitlin looks back at the big climb she just accomplished. See the trail down below?
Elliott and Amber enjoying a view from one of the summits
Fields of Yucca
Ice Cream Hill...we scrambled up this on the left side where the trees were thickest. Coming down this was a bit challenging in places where the rocks were very loose.
Different view of pond
Yet another pond view
The unusual pattern of lichen on this rock made it look painted on
Primitive camping area