Monday, January 28, 2008

Solo again Hill Country State Natural Area

I woke up Saturday morning with no plan to go anywhere, much less camping or hiking, but the weather was shaping up so beautifully I couldn't see myself wasting it doing nothing. I decided to go back to HCSNA because it's so beautiful there and I felt it would be another great place to practice my solo skills.

I called the park to find out if the primitive camping area was filling up yet(it was getting close to noon after all), and they told me a big boy scout troop was out there. I was a little disappointed but settled for my old stomping sight 121. If one is to car camp, that is a decent spot for it. There was only one other person camping but I barely caught a glimpse of him here and there and he was quiet as a mouse.

I arrived at my campsite around 4:30 in the afternoon and had time to set up camp and go for a short walk, but soon it became dark and I retired to my tent for the night. A couple of times I got out and had to walk to the car for a forgotten item here and there and both times I saw a cute little cotton tail rabbit.

I wasn't tired so I read for an hour or so and then the coyotes started singing. It sounded like a pack of 15 very noisy individuals, but who knows a few could sound like many. Then other packs way off in the distance started calling back. Soon the chorus died down and all was dead quiet. I slept well only to wake up now and then to more sounds of coyote music surprisingly closer to the area I was camped in. I loved it! Hope Mr. Cotton tail was hidden well away...

The next morning I took my time fooling around in camp because there were so many birds just hanging around. I counted at least 10 different species right there and was amazed at how close to me they got. One almost flew in my tent while I was in it. It was a gray bird, smallish, with a tufted crest and a neon bright orange beak. It wanted to get a closer look at either me or my tent and got a little closer than I think it meant to...we came eye to eye and the bird seemed quite startled! What a cool encounter that was. A wood pecker visited my camp site too but I couldn't get a good enough look to know what kind. It just pecked around in birdie bliss as I broke camp.

Finally I was packed up and at the main trail head by 11am. I quickly got my day pack ready and studied the route I previously chose that would give me about a 6 to 7 mile walk. The day couldn't have been nicer and I was so glad for a window of great weather. The route I picked turned out to be a lot of fun and I didn't see another person until almost the end of my hike, but I did have a few little companions show up here and there....honey bees.

They liked me for some reason and anytime I would stop moving, one would find me and buzz around checking me out. At one point I was looking at the map and a honey bee landed right on the tip of my thumb as if to check out the map too. It was so cute. Actually it was after the salt on my skin because it's little tongue was constantly tasting me. I felt such a great peace of mind right then and was reminded of all the hours and hours I spent studying honey bees when I was a kid. They are amazing insects and I've had a lifelong interest in them. I've thought about keeping them but don't think I have the time to commit to it.

Anyway, after 3 and a half hours of walking, I was done. At the car I checked my gps and it tracked a total of 6.59 miles. I stretched out a little, took a long drink of water, and said goodbye for now to HCSNA. I took the back country roads home and enjoyed every bit of the gorgeous scenery. The drive home was pleasant and I felt perfectly calm and relaxed.

I had a great time at HCSNA and am finding out that going solo is so far quite enjoyable. I don't think I NEED a partner anymore, but it sure would be nice to have others go along from time to time. With that said, there will be places I want to go where I will probably need a partner. My navigational skills are still somewhat green, so for now I need to stick with places that are smallish or have very easy to follow trails until I master using a compass and topo maps.

I'll probably have no choice but to stick to places that I've already been to for a while, unless I'm with a group or partnered with someone who knows what they are doing. So far the hiking/camping groups that I've joined are quite large and they are not doing things I want to do. I'm hoping something will turn up soon though that will take me somewhere I've never been. It would also be great to meet a few other women who would like to partner up and do some more adventurous stuff.

One last thing before I post pictures. When I got home, the first thing I did was give my husband a quick peck, my kiddo a hug, then off to the tub I went. A little soreness had settled in during the long drive home and I wanted to soak a bit before dinner. Russell had made a wonderful lasagna and it smelled heavenly. I couldn't wait to get cleaned up and stuff my face. I was HUNGRY! My hubby not only made a fabulous dinner, he cleaned up afterwards! I must be doing something right. :)

About a minute after I was in the tub I started hoping that Russell thought to buy a bottle of wine to go with dinner. As soon as the thought was in my head, I heard a clink on the side of the tub. I opened my eyes and a glass of wine was sitting there! I was very grateful and blown away by my husband's thoughtfulness and his timing. Even though I'm a bit of a tomboy, I still like to be pampered and enjoy the girly girl things in life. Romantic men are a plus in my book. Keep it up honey!

Enough of that...trip pictures will be up sometime later today. So check back!

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