I went for a hike at Pedernales Falls State Park mostly because I needed to get out and start walking and also because I wanted to take more pictures using the new 16-300 zoom lens that I have recently purchased. Before I left the house, I was thinking where would be a good place, somewhere I haven’t been in a while. I checked the internet for the State Parks in and around Austin and the Pedernales Falls popped up.
I haven’t been there to do any serious walking having only viewed the falls on my previous visit. I checked in with the Park Rangers when I first got there and asked one of them for suggestions. He came up with a couple but neither of them were long enough to suit my purpose. I sat in the parking lot and looked at the maps and decided that the Wolf Mountain Trail looked very interesting. I drove to the trail head and prepared for the trip which usually consists of putting on my hiking boots, retrieving my hiking stick, checking for extra batteries and such, grabbing my water bottle and cap and setting off.
The parking lot was very full and there were a lot of people heading out or coming back from wherever they had hiked. This trail head also led to the Primitive Camping Areas and I passed a lot of different groups both adults and youths all carrying heavy backpacks that contained their camping gear. Most were coming back out after spending overnight(s) in the park. Some were obviously boy scouts, others just friends and a couple of groups all had on the same colored tee shirts naming some club or another. Seeing them brought back memories when I was a kid all those many years ago and some of the camping trips that I took with many different friends. I was a Boy Scout until I was almost 17 so some of those camping trips were a bit wild.
As I walked along the trail leading to Wolf Mountain, I was struck by the makeup of this particular trail. It was almost the width of a two lane highway and was obviously very well maintained. This trail continued on like this all the way to the mountain with the only exception being that it narrowed down to be twelve to fifteen or so feet wide. It did make for very good walking which accounted for why I covered so many miles. Along the trail, I noticed a single hiker who as she got closer, seemed very familiar. She stopped as our paths met and we started to talk. When I asked her name, she also recognized me. I was her soccer coach from many years back from when she played on the Women’s Team I used to coach. I hadn’t seen her in ages and she commented on how bizarre that we should meet out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a funny old world.
We both continued on our respective ways and I walked on towards Wolf Mountain. The trail was beginning to climb upwards but not in an uncomfortable way and I still made good time. I stopped and chatted with another young couple that passed me going up. They were walking much faster than me but then again, everyone walks faster than me. Walking on, I eventually came to a fork in the trail and would you believe, there was a modern building standing there that had an up to date toilet within the room. This was in the middle of nowhere near the top of Wolf Mountain. I made full use of it but did not review the niceties of how it actually worked. I chose the trail that lead to Jones Spring and set off. By now, I was very high up and had a great view of the surrounding countryside which also gave me a chance to test the zoom qualities of my new lens. One shot in particular, I took of a section of water showing in the distance with the lens set short and then corresponding pictures using the zoom.
Meanwhile, the sky which had been cloudy anyway, began to fill in and a light rain began to fall. I stopped and put the camera away and debated on going back but decided that as I had already hiked about 5 miles, I would get no wetter going forward as going back, The rain was intermittent and only very light so did not make for unpleasant walking. As I walked along the Jones Spring trail, the trail began to narrow down quite considerably and the conditions underfoot turned more into a rocky climb. I met another young couple that asked me about Wolf Mountain and mentioned they were from Washington State where there are real mountains. We joked about it for a bit and they warned me that the trail ahead was narrowing down and getting much rockier as we both continued in our opposite directions. A bit further along, the first young couple I had spoken with passed me again going in the opposite direction and we bid each other “Hello, again”. They had been to the Spring and were heading back home.
I finally arrived at Jones Spring after a fairly long walk going downhill this time along the sort of trails that I am quite used to, narrow and tough and rocky going underfoot. I checked out the remains of the stone cabin and about that time, a party of 10-12 young boys with a couple of adults passed me heading towards the spring. By now, it was raining pretty hard and I did not want to risk getting my camera wet so opted to not take any pictures. I did follow the boys and checked out the spring which is not majorly spectacular to view but is a wonderland in itself as it continually pumps water from the bowels of the earth as it had done since time immemorial.From Jones Spring, I headed back along another of those wide trails that seem to make up the major trails in this park. I was not sure where this trail would bring me but I knew that I was travelling in the right direction. Sound travels a long way on the trail and I could here the voices of several different campers that were spending the night in the primitive camp sites. The same is true of others using the same trail as I was as I could hear them as they eventually caught up to me or when we passed going in opposite directions long before they became visible.
It was beginning to get dark as I arrived back at my car. I gratefully unloaded my gear and changed back into my walking shoes and stripping off my wet shirt. I started the car and turned on the heater and was very grateful to feel the hot air blowing out. Makes a change from when I was out earlier in the week at the Wildflower Center where I was soaked with sweat after that comparatively short walk of only a couple of miles. They say that you have only to wait a little bit in Texas and the weather will change. So from 85 on Wednesday to 65 on Saturday. Go figure…