Monday, July 16, 2007

Hill Country State Natural Area

HCSNA is one of the best places in our area to go back packing because it offers a bit of remoteness. There were absolutely no city sounds to pollute the ears, nor any people to bother us...only nature and beauty all around. It was a much needed trip and I had a great time as usual.

I will say though I was shocked to discover how out of shape I am! I was hot and tired after only about a mile and a half of walking in the sun and it was very upsetting to me. I knew I wasn't ready for an 8 mile hike after a month of virtually no serious activity thanks to illness, but thought I'd be ok for something in the 4 mile range at least. What a rude awakening after that first mile and a half! This place offers little shade on the trails and getting pneumonia really did set me back after all the progress I had made getting in shape. I was glad the walk to camp was only a couple of miles.

Anyway, it was raining the day we left(Sat) but radar indicated clear skies in the region where we would be and our rule is if it's not raining at the trail head, go for it. We did wonder a few times if we'd truly escape the thunder showers or not. Once we got there, a storm was in the making off in the distance and we knew it would be a close call on the trail since the storm was in the direction we were heading. Thunder rumbled and clouds looked bruised causing us to waste no time getting on the trail.

Mere minutes after arriving into the primitive camping area, the rain started. What perfect timing! There was a nice shelter that we moved a picnic table under and we sat around catching up with each other while enjoying the rain from underneath. It didn't last too long though and soon we were able to roam a little.

I put together some freezer bag meals for us again...this time it was chicken and stuffing with cranberries. Thomas and I both agree it's wonderful to eat a decent hot meal in the back country. We ate, then went on a lovely short evening walk. We went up a small hill to an old grain shed of some kind and I discovered Ant Lion traps in the sand. Thomas had never seen one before so it was cool that he actually got to see one catch its prey. If you click on the link, you can watch several videos showing Ant Lion behavior. These are funny little critters and were always a favorite of mine when I was a kid.

After getting back into camp Thomas read a bit while I perfected the art of doing absolutely was wonderful. At some point I got up and decided to pitch my tent which was a quick and easy job...allowing me to get back to doing absolutely nothing. A very enjoyable and peaceful evening transitioned to an equally enjoyable and peaceful night. At some point the mosquitoes got too annoying to stay up any longer, so off to bed we went.

I partially woke up in the middle of the night to flashing lights and thought it was lightening off in the distance. I laid there wondering if I was really seeing what I thought I was, or if I was dreaming. I even spoke out telling Thomas he needed to put his rain fly on...doubt he heard it though...his tent wasn't very close to mine. Since I never fully woke up, I was back out rather quickly. I woke up some time later to very bright flashes which totally got my attention and realized Thomas was out of his tent putting on the fly.

So I got up and joined him. It almost felt like we were the only two people in the world at that moment as we watched a most spectacular light show over the ridge from our private location. We couldn't see the clouds at first, just the constant flashing that looked like flash bulbs going off all over the place. Then we saw huge thunder heads boiling up over the hills and felt for sure it was going to come our way. The breeze picked up a little too which was doing a nice job of keeping mosquitoes at bay while we sat and watched in awe for a while.

After returning to my tent, I waited in excited anticipation of the seemingly approaching storm, but it never came and I soon fell back asleep. If it had, I think we would have been worked over pretty good from the looks of that lightening.

The next morning we packed up, walked back to the car, and headed to the Cibolo Nature Center for another short hike before returning home. Oh yeah, we did stop off at Rudy's for some bbq because Thomas lost a little bet on what time it would be when we got back to the car from camp. He was closer, but he went over so I won the bet. The loser had to buy the winner lunch, but knowing Thomas the way I do even if I had lost, he'd probably still buy lunch. He's a sweety!

Ice Cream Hill. This shot was taken not long after we arrived in camp.

Another shot shortly after arriving in camp

The shelter

Looking out from under the shelter

Thomas brought this! It was just right.

After the rain cleared out

Thomas camped under this tree. I camped next to the scrubby trees shown left. The ridge in the background is where the light show occurred. Look how green this place is!

Still some wildflowers left

Mountain Pinks

On to Cibolo Nature Center...

A map of the place

Dinosaur track information

Dino tracks

Tangled roots of the Cypress. Their roots are vulnerable to foot traffic because they don't go deep into the soil. I try to avoid stepping on them when I can.

Looking downstream

Looking upstream

On our way out of the nature preserve we saw this beauty. Thomas told me what kind it is, but I've since forgotten. I'll go back and id it eventually.


Anonymous said...

Nice report,
That was a great trip.. Hill Country state natural area has a lot to offer..except Water..
The real question is.. what to do this upcoming weekend!?!

The butterfly is a Rusty tipped page..


Ginny said...

Oh yes a Rusty Tipped Page...thanks T!

And this upcoming weekend is a good question...

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

We get a very similar looking butterfly here in Alice Springs. Will have to see if I can send you a pic. Its winter though so you might have to wait until September

Ginny said...

Hi Sean :)

I will be reminding you in September to go on a butterfly photo expedition. ;)