Monday, November 5, 2007

Riding, Hiking, Camping

Wanting to try out my new backpack and hiking boots, I decided to take the day off on Friday and ride to Enchanted Rock SNA. Fortunately all my stuff stayed on the bike, but perhaps only just. When I got there and registered at noon, the place was almost empty. I rearranged my pack a bit and headed toward my campsite, deliberately taking a slightly longer route (about 2 miles vs 1 mile direct). I didn't see anybody on the trail and when I got to the campsite, it was empty and it wasn't really clear to me which were the individual sites. I set up in a clearing, changed into shorts and went to climb the actual "Enchanted Rock." When I got there it was after 1 and a lot more people had showed up. After climbing all over the top, I headed along the northern longer route back to camp. I got back about 4 and there still weren't many people there. I read the rest of the afternoon, that day's newspaper I'd brought and Walden. I couldn't find a very comfortable place to sit and read- it was too hot in the tent, the rocks out front were in the sun so also on the warm side, and behind the tree in the shade there were ants- so I wound up rotating between them trying to relax. About 6:30 the sun was starting to go down, so I cooked my dinner- freeze dried macaroni and cheese. After dinner I laid down and read my book until I fell asleep around 9. As usual, I woke up a number of times in the night and I could hear voices all night, even at 1:30. Not so loud to be disturbing, but I could still hear them. When I woke up at 5:30 I read my book a little more (getting to a better stopping point than wherever I fell asleep) and started getting ready to leave. I had breakfast and left just after first light, about 7. As I left I saw a lot of people had arrived, there were about 20 tents that I could see. It was still before dawn when I got back to the parking area, and it was full. Probably a lot of them were there overnight, but there were some groups of rock climbers gearing up. I showered, repacked my bike and headed back toward Fredericksburg.
I rode through Kerrville and rather than head more directly to Lost Maples SNA, I went on to Bandera to get gas. I was hoping to pick up a sandwich somewhere, but most places looked like touristy cafes, not a deli, and I wasn't going to touch a gas station sandwich. I got to Lost Maples just before noon. There was a relatively long line of people waiting to pay the entrance fee, but I just snuck to the front and showed them my newly acquired State Parks Pass. I parked, had a couple granola bars, filled my water bottle, and headed to the East trail. Initially there are two parallel trails on either side of the stream, so I of course took the one less travelled. The people thinned out some after about a mile, but still I couldn't take a step without seeing or hearing people. When I got to the steep uphill portion, I could hear some young boy screaming about how he didn't want to walk any more. I hustled past that family and everyone else, only stopping twice for a breath and drink before getting to the top of the 300+ ft vertical climb. Across the ridge and back down about as much I came to a crossroads of trails and a camping area. There are these really pretty "ponds" in the stream there, which I used to splash some cold water on my face to cool off. The short trail from there back to the parking area was the most fall-like of anywhere I'd seen in the park. After cooling off sitting barefoot in the grass, I geared up for the bike and headed home, getting back about 5 o'clock.
On Sunday I met up with Grant to pre-ride for the Eola Schoolhouse ride. Doctor John joined us. It was a nice day, good temperature for most of the day, but coming home I was a bit warm with my jacket on. On the way home we took a different route, as a possible return ride. The place was busy (ha)- a couple people were just leaving and another man came in right after us, and a couple with three daughters came in while we were there. We made it home before dark and I watched the drag race until I could barely keep my eyes open at 10.