Friday, April 13, 2007


Here in Texas, spring weather is fickle. We decided to take advantage of a warm clear day to visit one of the outstanding natural features of the Hill Country, Enchanted Rock.

This pink granite dome was considered sacred by Native American tribes, somewhat spooky by settlers ("strange noises" at night) - and enchanting by us. The dome and surrounding outcroppings, creeks, lakes and streams are not a state park, but a "state natural area"... only "primitive" camping allowed (tents), with lovely picnic areas and hiking.

The most popular hike is the Summit trail, under a mile to do the round trip with an elevation gain of 445 feet. Although the hike is steep, the granite is rough, so a good pair of hiking boots or athletic shoes grip like Spider Man. Up, up, up we went to the dome.

What looks smooth and barren is considerably varied on top. Once we caught our breath and got over the knockout view, we wandered around enjoying a closeup look: lots of small pools of water, some HUGE boulders, protected gardens of ferns and tiny wildflowers.

Look at this pool of water, filling a large, shallow depression in the rock. Behind is a cactus and wildflower garden, about the same size and shape. We noticed this all over the top of the dome. Here and there, plants get a foothold in one of the pools, which gradually captures a bit of soil and seeds, and evolves from a pool to a garden.

We descended from the summit to Echo Canyon, a trail between Enchanted Rock and another, slightly less imposing dome. The trail was rocky, with a creek bubbling nearby, lots of flowers, shade... and a RATTLESNAKE! A REALLY BIG ONE!

Odel was leading, and stopped short when a 3-4 foot rattler, stretched out across the trail soaking up the sunshine, blocked our way. In this picture, you can see the back half of the snake - I couldn't get the camera out and on in time to get the entire snake. Too bad.

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