Tuesday and Wednesday, June 2-3, 2015
Hike: Pedernales Falls State Park – Various Trails, near Johnson City, TX
Weather: clear overnight, warm – hot and sunny the next day
Hikers: Ian, Court, Biff
Length: roughly 6 miles total
Courtney decided for my birthday we should go camping back out at Pedernales and I couldn’t agree more. I was turning 33 on June 3rd, so she picked me up at work with Biff and a packed car and we headed out to the park to get camp set up before the sun set.
This was our first night in our new tent, the Marmot Limelight 3P. It set up easily and was very comfy for the two of us and Biff. As with most three person tents, no way would this be feasible with three normal sized humans. But for two it was great. We started the fire and Court had brought penne noodles to boil and had also packed homemade suga to go with it. One of my favorite meals and my birthday request.
After dinner we sat around the fire for a short while, listening to the screaming high school kids who were out there on some sort of chaperoned outing. Eventually we had enough and went to the tent to read before hitting the sack.
The next morning we woke up with the sun and boiled water for coffee. Gonna have to get more of those Jiva cubes because they rock. Biff reiterated the fact that he is not to be left off leash around camp. As a couple was taking their dogs on a morning stroll, Biff decided to go barking mad and rushing up to them. Hate when he does that.
After checking out the falls, which are flowing really high right now due to crazy Memorial Weekend rains, we headed up to the ranger station to officially check in since we had arrived after closing time the day before. We had originally planned on hiking the Wolf Mountain Trail, but reviews of it online were not that good and said it was more of a wide jeep trail most of the time. Luckily, the rangers told us that there were two brand new trails that had just recently been completed, the Madrone and the Juniper Ridge, both on the south side of the park that were probably more our style. So we headed down and found the parking lot, which was actually outside of the park boundaries.
We started on the Madrone trail which wound around through the woods in the shade for a while. Court had a close encounter with a big spider that would have sent me into a conniption fit if it had been me. We eventually crossed back into the park and the landscape became a bit more exposed and desert like before hitting the Juniper Ridge trail, plunging back into the woods, and leading us to an incredibly beautiful waterfall and stream. We relaxed here for a while, Court soaking her feet in the cool, clear water. This made the whole hike worth it, but there was more adventure to come.
We hiked the trail up out of the creek to a pipeline right of way and decided to follow it back to a crossing with an equestrian trail that should have taken us back to the car. This was not to be however. The right of way was pretty steep uphill and gave us our best views of the park.
When we hit the marker for the equestrian trail we followed where the sign said to go, but couldn’t really find the trail. We tried several different directions and doubled back a few times, but found no obvious trail. We knew the road where we parked was relatively close, according to the map, so we decided to bushwhack through the woods where the trail was supposed to be. This added probably an extra hour or so to the hike and the compass and GPS came in handy. After going too far and hitting the stream from earlier we decided to go straight up and over Lone Mountain (Court’s suggestion) to get back to the car. Biff was carried some of the way and the sun was beating down harder and harder. Luckily we finally reached the road and popped out about 100 yards from our parked car.
I’m a bit upset that the park map shows a trail that either isn’t there or is very hard to find, but it made the hike more of an adventure. We had plenty of water and the proper equipment so there was never any real threat of being lost or in a worrisome situation. We blasted the AC in the car, loaded up on water, and headed back to town. I had a great birthday and now I also have a new work schedule that should allow a lot more hiking and camping which I am looking forward to.
That red tree is a madrone. I did not know they grew in Texas.
Hence the Madrone Trail. I learned something today.
Those trees grow all over the coast ranges here and California and a bit in southern Oregon, about as far north as the Umpqua River area. They have the highest BTU’s of any wood you would burn out here in the west. They are so oily, it is almost like the branches were soaked in creosote.