Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pedernales

This is a brief report of our Summer 2004 trip to Pedernales Falls State Park in Texas.
Our trip started on Monday June 14th. Arlynda drove me up to Austin from Houston. There I met Cory at his apartment along with Jefferson and Dad, both down from Utah. I bid farewell to Arlynda and we stayed that night at Cory's.

In the morning (Tuesday the 15th) we got up and after breakfast drove to Pedernales Falls, which is only about 30 minutes from Cory's place. The park is centered around the Pedernales river, which runs through the oak and juniper covered hills of central Texas. At the trail head we humped our packs (a backpacking term for "put them on our backs") and had a standing high-jump competition (with packs on). I'm not sure, but I think that Cory won.

We next hiked a shockingly short one-plus-a-little miles to our two-night campsite. This was a drastic departure from our old habit of hiking anywhere from 6 to 10 miles on the first day, arriving at our first camp exhausted, with blisters and aching backs. We looked around for sometime for a good campsite. (We wanted good spots to pitch our tents in some nice shade. We were afraid things were going to get hot.

We found a good one with plenty of shade, but fortunately things never did heat up that much on this trip.)

After getting settled we decided to explore. The Pedernales river was somewhere below the bluffs on top of which we were camping. We bush whacked down to find it. It was a river of considerable size, flowing with very warm water. We waded and explored a bit, but it wasn't too exciting and rain was threatening so we returned to camp.

On Wednesday the 16th we took a day hike around Wolf Mountain (not much of a mountain by standards that we are accustomed to, but a fun hike none-the-less). We also circled Tobacco Mountain on this hike and saw Jones Spring and some old ruins of an early white settlement.

The fact is that we went around Wolf Mountain twice with out meaning to. When we hooked back on to the Wolf Mountain loop trail from our Jones Spring excursion we started circling the Mountain (as we had planned to do). When we got about half way around the mountain we saw a side trail that took off to our left (the Mountain was on our right). This side trail had a sign: "To Parking Lot". "Certainly not the way we want to go," we thought. "We're headed back to our campsite." So we continued around the mountain. After going another half way around we got to a spot that seemed oddly familiar. It was a junction between three trails, one purporting to head toward Jones Spring. "Haven't we seen this before?" (We had.) We had a hard time deciding which way to go. We couldn't agree on whether we had actually been at this point previously nor whether we could have missed the trail heading down to our campsite. After some heated debate we decided to continue around the mountain, always ready to head down the side of the mountain if needed in order to find our campsite. Soon however we found ourselves at the sign pointing back to the "Parking Lot." At this point we finally looked at the map and discovered that this was actually the way we wanted to go. We followed this trail a little, but not all the way back to the trail head. Soon our little trail to our campsite joined this "Parking Lot" trail. We were glad to have found our way back.

That afternoon Cory studied while Jefferson, Dad and I went to explore Bee Creek. We found some nice little bath tub sized pools.


Then we found a nice big swimming hole. It was deep, much cooler than the rest of the stream, and dark. We swam across this (the only way that we could get across) hoping that we could decend the stream further, but the canyon it was in narrowed too much and became too overgrown and brush choked for us to go any farther. So we returned to the swimming hole and spent some time there. As Dad was swimming back across I swam underneath him and grabbed him from below hoping to scare him, but he was expecting it and didn't get as scared as I had hoped. One side of the hole met a vertical rock wall. However the wall did not continue vertically into the water. As soon as it hit the water it cut back underneath itself forming a cave or alcove. We would have liked to see how far back this extended, but we had no light to shine into it. It went at least six feet back we discovered by both Dad and I sticking our feet back into it (along with our whole bodies) until our heads disappeared under the rock! This was scary, but fun. There was also a rope that one could use to climb up the cliff a little way and then jump into the water.

The next day (Thursday, the 17th) we broke camp and humped our packs again for the excruciatingly short hike to the car.

We developed a new hiking technique,

(hey, it works for turkeys!). We then drove to the site of the Park's name sake--Pedernales Falls themselves! Very nice! I recommend that you visit this place.

1 comment:

Arlynda said...

This is the trip you were on when fire ants invaded our car. I also had pneumonia, but we didn't know that for sure until after you got home. I felt horrible the whole time.

 

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