Here is the long awaited trip report. When deciding where to go for the first time on a solo trip, there were certain things I needed to consider, like how far from the trail to the campsite, terrain, miles, ease of following a trail and not getting lost, such as a loop vs an out and back, or getting on a trail with many turns and having to pay close attention to the map, etc...
Obviously since I'm new to this sort of thing, I need to start off slow and not push my limits too much while working out the kinks of backpacking alone. I haven't had a full pack on in months so knew that I needed to select an area that offered a not too strenuous walk to the primitive campsites, since I don't really know what kind of shape I'm still in. Oh and believe it or not, I had new shoes on! One would think I learned a lesson the last time I pulled a stunt like that, but I was determined that no matter how painful it was going to be, that I was going to break in a pair of boots first time out or maybe second time out, and then be done with the shoe dilemma for hopefully a while. I've had my share of shoe problems.
Anyway, I decided it would be easy to walk almost three miles the first day and then do 4 or 5 the next. I wanted a loop as well, so chose Pedernales SP again. The trails there are not so exciting really, but back in the woods a little bit off trail and in the primitive camping area it gets pretty and interesting. So with a destination in mind, I prepared myself for my trip and headed out Saturday morning around 10am.
The weather was nice that day but expected to be 30 degrees or so at night. I wasn't concerned about the cold because I already had experience with my equipment and felt it would keep me alive and reasonably warm through the night. I was so happy to be on my way and eager to try out my new gear. I bought a park pass when I was car camping last, so was happy to be using that for the first time too. I arrived in plenty of time to have a nice hike and take some time exploring around after arriving in the primitive area. The campsite is on top of a bluff under the trees and is pretty nice.
I was surprised how many people were on the trails and how many were setting up camp in the area. It wasn't a problem though, I just walked all the way down to the very end and pitched my tent a few feet away from the edge of a bluff. I felt like I had the best spot in the park and had a great view of the leaf carpeted floor below and the ridge across the gorge. The sunset was beautiful.
Before I settled in to organize myself and get my stove working, I walked around a bit and snapped a few pictures. I ended up meeting a woman around my age on the trail who had been car camping the night before. She was really nice and we seemed to have some things in common. She admired my bravery for back packing solo in the primitive areas and said I was an inspiration to her. She now wants to give it a try...prior to this she has been doing a lot of car camping. We exchanged information and decided to partner up when we can.
We talked until almost dark. She had a night hike ahead of her back to her car and I was happy to get my dinner going and relaxing to the soothing sounds of the impending night. I felt really good about the whole thing and didn't worry about anyone bothering me. I didn't go to sleep immediately but read a bit and sometimes just lay quietly listening to coyotes in the distance. They sound so woeful but eerily beautiful to me and I love hearing them.
I don't know what time it was, but at some point someone hiked in during the dark hours and pitched a tent somewhere close enough that I could hear them unpacking and setting up. And while they were setting up I heard someone else snoring. So I wasn't as far away from everyone else as I would have liked to have been, but that's the way it goes. They soon settled down and I didn't hear another peep out of them save an occasional zipper being undone etc...
Much later, I'm still awake listening to night sounds, and all of a sudden I hear a bone chilling crying out and frantic screaming type screeches that sounds like either an animal is being killed by another animal, or two animals are fighting. It was so difficult to tell what exactly it was I was hearing. At one point I thought it might have been two bobcats or raccoons going after each other. In either case it was very exciting and gave me something to ponder for a while.
When I finally decided to get some sleep I drifted off fast and the next thing I knew it was 6am and still very dark. It was also COLD! I was a little chilled but not terribly. I pulled my sleeping bag liner off of my sleeping pad and got in it then draped my open bag over me. I quickly warmed up after that point and was thinking about getting out and walking about, but my bag beckoned me to stay. I fell asleep again and woke up around 10am! I couldn't believe how late I slept. I felt great and slept great.
I took my time packing up, eating a bite, and getting ready for the hike ahead. My feet had some sore spots so I duck taped them before putting my socks and shoes on. It wasn't long after that I was on the trail and happily hiking back to the car. I didn't see anyone for a while, but the closer to the car I got, there were plenty of people.
Oh yeah, I made a point to stop at Jones Spring and try out my steri pen. I'm happy to report that I drank a liter of Spring water from Jones Spring and am still alive to talk about it. :) The steri pen is a great tool! Of course the drawback to it is that it doesn't filter, so if I'm in a situation where there is no clear spring water I might have to have a system to pre filter. I'll worry about that later though.
The last mile back to the car was hard on my feet and my back was starting to hurt a little. When I got home and my muscles got cold, the soreness set in. The next day I was only slightly sore, so that isn't too bad. I hope I can get out and do this again very soon.
Pics will be up at some point in the next 24 hours. Sorry to make everyone wait. I've been quite busy and was lucky to find time to write all this down.