So many things are happening. Hikers whose blogs I’ve been stalking have successfully finished. (Amazing!) I’m getting assigned to help with set up and clean up at the Gathering in October. I’m looking forward to feeling useful. My brother took a sweet scenic overlook selfie from the AT this weekend on his search for moose. My mother-in-law showed me some very cool postcards from a trip to GSMNP when she was younger. I pointed to Clingmans Dome and told my husband that’s where I’d be, as long as I didn’t miss the cats the first week and come home. I tried for the umpteenth time to explain to my own mother what I’m trying to do next year, to no avail. I’ve told her multiple times and every time she acts as though it’s the first time I’m telling her. She is neither disapproving nor supportive. She simply has no idea what I’m talking about. Or she is in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. It’s actually been up for debate recently. We’ll just have to wait and see. Oh, and my Lightheart Solo tent accidentally got seam sealed at no extra charge. Happy birthday to me!
In addition to my new tent, my guys let me drag them out in triple digit weather to go camping for my birthday. With any luck, I will be on the AT for my birthday next year. What a terrifyingly wonderful thought.
If you’re going to go camping in Texas in the summer, it helps to go to a place where you can relax in the water. Pedernales Falls State Park was a good choice. It was Labor Day weekend and the park is just under an hour from Austin so we knew it would be packed. Having this knowledge helps to lessen the blow. It’s so disappointing to think you’ll have a secluded spot to yourself and then not. Well, it was packed like we thought but it really wasn’t that bad. We only had a few neighbors in the primitive area, ran into very few people while hiking, and the abundance of people at the swimming area actually gave it a happy-summer-fun-times vibe which was surprisingly not annoying. Again, I think going into it with an accurate expectation totally helped. I’d love, however, to go back in the winter and try to get some shots of Pedernales Falls without people in the background and maybe when it’s flowing at more than just a trickle.
We got there later than we’d planned the first day so we ended up hiking the 2.5 miles and just setting up camp. The primitive area is easy to get to on about a ten foot wide gravel trail and has camping available on the bluffs above the Pedernales River. We couldn’t see the river from where we were. Just trees, bluffs, and more trees. Maybe you could get to the river from there but it was so steep and overgrown that we didn’t even try. Actually, I think we were set up above Mescal Creek and not the Pedernales but we liked our spot anyway. There’s 0.8 miles to choose from so maybe there are better spots further down that we’ll try next time. There are trash cans and a chemical toilet in the primitive area but water is only available at the trailhead. We didn’t go very far but it was sooooo hot and late in the day so we gave up. After a dirty spork/ant debacle, we sent ourselves to bed.
My husband got scared by a roadrunner at 4 o’clock in the morning. I slept through it. He didn’t know it was a roadrunner at the time, of course. He described it as a yipping noise and insisted it wasn’t a bird because it was running on the ground. Ha! We looked it up when we got home. I can see how if you were confused and half asleep, a roadrunner bark could sound coyote-ish so he’s not a complete wuss. Oh, and he said I couldn’t make fun of him on my blog unless I linked to the sound so here. Now we know what roadrunners sound like!
In the morning, we hiked back out to the trailhead, refilled our water, and drove to Pedernales Falls. There are quite a few steps on the stairs going down but it is worth it. Some areas are a little harder to get to, requiring you be taller than 5’3″… Unless, of course, you’re the six-year-old Spiderman wannabe freak that showed me up. If you look hard enough you can find a way. Try the opposite side. That’s what I ended up doing. The falls were a tiny trickle but still very cool. The area is prone to flash floods so I can imagine how crazy it is to see that. I’ll take the trickle. There were some very cool zebra-tailed lizards that I’d never seen before. I didn’t get a good picture with their tails up but it is hilarious. They look like nothing special but the underside of their tails is white with black bands. When you get close to them, they run away with their toes curled up and wag the underside of their tails at you. Cutest defense mechanism ever! The internet says they can run on just two legs for a short time but that didn’t happen. Oh, well. We had a picnic under the shade of a tree on the falls and it was awesome. There’s not a lot of shade there so afterwards we drove down to the beach area to cool off in the Pedernales River. It wasn’t very deep but enough to float in. Also, deep enough in some parts for the smaller kids to jump from some ropes in the trees. The temp on my thermometer read 103°F so this part of the trip was pretty much mandatory for survival. :) After we were nice and cool, we drove back to our trailhead, filled up on water again, and hiked back to camp for the night.
On our last day, we took the Ranch Road Trail off of Wolf Mountain Trail to see Twin Falls on our way out but it didn’t happen. It ended at an unimpressive overlook. Unless we were at the wrong place, there were no falls. I suspect you can only see them from the Twin Falls Nature Trail on the car/RV camping side. It was worth a shot.
Things we didn’t see: Twin Falls, Jones Spring, and the 5 mile loop on the other side. We’re also pretty sure there have to be some secret-ish swimming spots with fewer people but were too hot this time to try to find them. I’m always happy to have a reason to go back. :)