I went back to Pedernales Falls State Park yesterday as the weather was again way too nice to stay indoors or even to work out in the garden, I wanted to hike the Juniper Ridge Trail which I had attempted a couple of days ago only to get turned around.
I chatted to the Park Rangers when I checked in about the actual location of the entrance to the Juniper Trail and had their input on where to start hiking. I drove to the Wolf Mountain parking area which is where I planned to start my hike, parked the car and went through my usual pre-hiking routine of changing into boots, strapping on my camera and grabbing my water bottle, fruit and hiking poles and was ready to go.
I set off following the directions given me by the Rangers and safely negotiated onto the proper trail which as the name suggests, follows through mostly Juniper trees with the very occasional live oak tree. I made it safely through the first part of the trail and reached the point where Madrone Trail joins Juniper.
So far, so good. I was making good time up to this point as I headed down to what I thought was the homeward stretch. Then the first of a series of errors occurred. I had just taken a picture and following my usual practise returned my camera to my belt carrier, sliding it into the special holder that I have. There is also a safety clip and strap which goes around my neck as a safety just in case the camera did slip out of its special holder. Well, that is exactly what did happen. I missed the holder and unbeknown to me, the safety strap had also come undone and the camera crashed to the ground.
Fearing the worst, I picked it up and the first thing I noticed was that the Lens Hood had broken. On closer inspection, the protection filter was also broken. I unscrewed it and the main lens appeared to be OK. I took a couple of pictures and everything seemed to be working just fine. I was very lucky. I have no idea how or why the safety strap had come undone.
I continued on my walk and came to the place where I had messed up before and taken the wrong trail. I opened the compass on my smart phone and checked it against the map and then chose what I thought was the correct trail. The signposting for these trails leaves an awful lot to be desired.
Turns out, I had made the same mistake as I previously had made in choosing the wrong trail. I was really stepping it out as it was growing dark but luckily, I am prepared and had a flashlight which enabled me to see the trail. I even followed the trail marked as “Car Park” but it proved to not get me where I wanted to go. I eventually ended up by the Entrance Building right at the top end of the park.
By now, it was completely dark but I was able to follow the road back towards the Wolf Mountain Parking Lot and somehow, I managed to walk right past it and ended up by the Wildlife Viewing Area. I knew I had gone too far so I retraced my steps but before I got back to the Parking Lot I needed, a car pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride. By now, I was very cold. My internal body temperature was just fine as I was moving at a very fast walk (for me) but my skin was getting colder by the minute. I readily agreed to jump in the car but it was a two door small sedan and I had to take my camera belt off to get in. At the same time, the wife who was driving, told me to wait a minute as she cleared the back seat for me and then handed me my walking poles.
We found the Lot I needed which was only a couple of hundred yards up the road. I had almost reached it but I was still grateful for the ride as it was nice and warm in the car. I was driven right to my car and the wife insisted that I start my car before she would leave just to make sure everything was OK which I proceeded to do. Satisfied, they bid their farewells and drove off on their way home to Bulverde as they had been visiting friends who were staying at the Camper Park.
I changed out of my boots and put on my shirt to try to get warm. It was then that I realized that my sunglasses were not tucked into my shirt as they had been before I got into the other car to accept their help. They must have fallen out when I took off the camera belt with the safety strap that was around my neck. I retraced my steps only this time in the car to where they had picked me up but there was nothing laying on the road. Disheartened, I made my way back to where I had been parked and checked around but to no avail. I came to the conclusion that the glasses are probably still in the other person’s car having fallen there when I took the camera off. As I have no clue what there names are and the only thing I know is that they live in Bulverde, I guess I am out one pair of expensive prescription sunglasses. Altogether, I hiked 18 miles, the furthest I have ever walked and this is the first time that I have hiked in the dark and I don’t recommend it.
By then, it was almost 9:00 pm so I made my way home with the seat heaters up high and the dashboard heater also turned as high as it would go. The heat felt great and when I reached home and had taken care of the animals, I jumped into the hot tub to complete the thawing out process.
This morning, I called the Pedernale Falls Park Office and left my particulars just in case the glasses do magically re-appear. I am not too hopeful. I have managed to lose them twice before on the trails and both times they were found and turned into the office for me to reclaim. Who knows, I might get lucky again.
As for the hike, I am very disappointed that I have managed to get lost twice on the same trail and in the same spot. I am going to go back and will walk it again until I get it right…
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