June 22nd, 2013
Weather: Sunny, hot, slight breeze, mid-low 90s
Hikers: Ian and Court
We got up early Saturday morning in Dallas and drove the 1.5 hours to the park, arriving right at opening, 8am. Aside from the overnight campers, we were the first ones on the trail. First, we went to the main dinosaur track site. I think we found one or two, but without a guide or park ranger it’s a bit difficult to tell.
After a quick look for dinosaur tracks, we headed over to the main trail head. There are some advantages to being first on the trail: solitude, lower temperatures, quiet. But there are some decided disadvantages as well. On this trip: SPIDERS. We quickly found that the local spider population had very effectively woven a tapestry of webs overnight, criss-crossing the trail at every possible place. Aside from spiders being one of my least favorite creatures on earth, getting a face full of web every six feet is not a good feeling. Each of us found walking sticks that were truly “spider sticks”, used to clear our path of the ever-present webs. However, after about 45 minutes, we came upon wider paths and the spiders, who had slowed our progress significantly, became fewer and fewer.
Today, I had taken a backpack to get used to hiking with some weight, in preparation for future hikes and overnights. However, all I had was my Dell computer backpack, not exactly meant for outdoor recreation. I purposely overpacked, trying to get used to a decently heavy load. I soon realized that the lack of a hip belt to take a lot of the load off my shoulders made for a pretty uncomfortable hike. Nothing unbearable, but suffice it to say, I can’t wait to get a real hiking backpack.
We first headed south along the White and Blue trails, battling the spiders and clearing the way for future hikers. We circled back north, came down Denio Creek, and then, barring a slight loss of bearings that led to a backtracking of about .5 mile, headed northwest along the Blue trail along the Paluxy River. (see map)
This last loop on the Blue trail was the best part of the hike. We stayed alongside the river on fairly level ground at first, shaded underneath the trees. We came to a wooden bridge and turned north to loop back. Here we gained quite a bit of elevation and were treated to a couple of nice overlooks of the park at the top.
Wildlife was pretty abundant. A lot of lizards that were lightning quick once they’d spotted us and one small, black snake about 1.5″ in diameter that was equally as quick to vacate the path as the lizards. We also saw a couple of Cardinals, but none of the Golden-Cheeked Warblers or Black-Capped Vireos that the park is known for.
All in all, we hiked about 5.5 miles in 4 hours. We were done by noon, just as the heat of the day was starting to creep in. My shoes and socks held up well, as well as my synthetic sleeveless tee. Cotton has no place in the outdoors, however. We are going to start slowly buying equipment for our more intense hikes and overnights in the coming years.