Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Trip to Enchanted Rock

At 500 feet high Enchanted Rock, just outside of Fredericksburg Texas, is the second-largest batholithic rock formation (created by a bowl of hot volcanic magma) in the USA. Georgia's Stone Mountain being number one. Coincidently I also managed to summit that one as well, conveniently using the popular and courteously provided trolley rather than trying to crawl up Robert E Lee's nose. A volcanic sprawl with billion year old rock (some of the oldest to be found in North America) emerging as the upper portion of a 90 square mile base, the peak provides a 360 degree view of the Texas hill country that I was quite anxious to see again.

Enchanted Rock has at least 45 technical climbs, many along the 1,000 foot fizzures of the Enchanted Rock Cave and ranging from 5.5's to 5.11's (won't be doing those thank you) along with 8 miles of hiking trails, which was my target for the day. The elevation map looked fairly benign, other than a short half-mile+ trail rising abruptly 400 feet to the peak of this rock. In actuality it seemed even tamer, which was good, since I am in peak holiday shape and didn't need to look forward to any sort of steep ego-busting ascent.

Took the new boots on the assumption that eight miles of mostly graded hiking would not threaten any major wounds regardless of how stiff my footwear is. I also cornered myself into going without a bottle of water since I am at times far more dense than the granite I was treading on and so did not think to stop and buy a bottle on the way.

I did get out of the parental's household unit VERY early (can we say 4 AM wakeup call?) so I had the chance to surprise some early morning wildlife feeders, deer and a pod of raccoons. I had intended to walk the loop trail before going to the summit, but when I arrived the sun still had yet to peak over the horizon, so I instead jetted immediately up the summit trail. The temperature was about 30F, and was windy enough to make my ears wish that I had been wise enough to bring a cap. There was only one other soul on the summit (a sole summit soul?) who was very professionally set up to snap some hill country sunrise photographs. I on the other hand whipped out my phone to compose my masterpiece. A study in contrasting styles.

After mucking around on the flat top of Enchanted Rock appreciatingly watching the sunrise, I skipped over to the secondary Little Peak, 125 feet lower and a bit to the west. I then did a quick scoot down the Echo Canyon trail to the backside of Enchanted Rock, where I was hoping to see some technical climbers on one of the many routes that Enchanted Rock offers. Unfortunately I was on the trail too early for that species of adventurer, particularly since most of the routes are on the northwest (ie shady - remember, it's morning and cold) side of the hill. I did do a bit of light rock scrambling over some of the auxiliary trails that they have for that purpose.

All in all I spent about four very enjoyable hours putzing around the park. On the trails I only saw our lone photographer, although the parking lot was beginning to get some activity when I left.

All in all quite a nice quickie. I hope to come back to the park and do a bit more rambling around.

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