I was sitting indoors finishing up the blog from the walks over the weekend and looking out of the window at a beautifully sunny day. The temperature was already 60 degrees and was forecast to reach almost 68 for the day. Way too nice a day to be sitting indoors.
I finished the blog and walked the garden looking at the ponds just to make sure that everything came through the night OK. I changed out a couple of filters and looked at the pathways that needed raking again. I had this inward struggle going on, rake the leaves or hit the trails and of course the trails won without too much argument on my part.
I have just about exhausted Reimers Ranch for a while at least until the springtime when things start to green up and I had just finished walking at McKinney so I decided to go back to Pedernales Falls State Park as there are still a lot of trails that I have not covered. Packing the usual water and fruit, I said goodbye to the dogs and gave them a treat and had to tear myself away from their pleading brown eyes as I walked out of the door. Somehow, I don’t think dachshunds with their little legs are made for trail walking over any distance or tough terrain.
Pedernales Falls is about 27 miles from my house and a very pleasant drive. It took me about 30 minutes or so and I arrived at the Park around 1:00 pm. I chatted to the Guard about which trails to take and he pointed out a couple he thought I would enjoy. I thanked him for his help and drove to the Wolf Mountain Parking area where I would start my hike. The usual preparations followed putting on my boots, strapping on my camera belt and grabbing my walking poles and I was ready to go.
I was planning on walking the Juniper Ridge Trail which would have been about 9 miles but almost immediately after starting, I took the wrong trail and found myself following the North Loop Equestrian Trail. Looking at the map, I could see that it would take me a different route and as it was still a new trail to me, decided to keep on going. This trail follows the West boundary fence of the park property and it was on my right side for a great deal of the walk until the trail veered off way up by the Park entrance. I took the Madrone Trail at that point figuring that it would lead me back to either Juniper Ridge or the South Loop Equestrian Trail. I met a group of 5 older people like me, coming in the opposite direction all looking like they were very comfortable on the trail. These were the only people I saw the entire afternoon.
When we reached that branch in the trail where Madrone met South Loop Equestrian and Juniper Ridge, I opted to take South Loop Equestrian Trail as I thought it would be shorter than Juniper Ridge. It probably is shorter but I never got to find out as at the point that two trails came together, I managed to go in the completely opposite direction and instead of travelling North, headed towards the East. I followed the trails for what seemed like hours and found myself back on the trail leading to the road. The trouble was the road was the one outside of the park, Pedernales Falls Road. I didn’t realize my mistake and started walking what I hoped was the right direction towards the Wolf Mountain car park. I walked about a mile all the while growing a little more concerned that I was going in the wrong direction. I turned back and started to retrace my steps.
A car passed me going in the same direction and then it turned and came back towards me. A very nice lady said that she noticed me walking and figured I had gotten lost and asked me if I wanted a ride. I very gratefully got in although rather awkwardly with my camera belt and walking poles getting in the way for comfort. She told me that her husband had been the Park Superintendent before he retired last year. He was conducting a seminar and she was stopping in to visit him is why she was even on the road. Imagine my surprise when she turned right into the Park Entrance to take me to the Wolf Mountain car park, I was that far off with my bearings. Kinda worrisome in a way that I could get that much turned around. I thanked her profusely for stopping to give me a ride as she went on her way. Lucky for me that she came along as it was already getting dark and even more luck that she was aware of the park and the hikers and figured out I was lost. By my reckoning, I was probably still 2 miles from my car if I kept following the road.
I changed into my shoes and stowed my camera and gear and sat there for a while thinking about my error. It really bothered me that I had got so turned around just by making a wrong choice of trail and vowed to be more careful in the future. Again, the lack of trail signs did not help the situation. For instance, there is one for the Short Loop which I can’t even find on the map which is one that I ended up taking. I had crossed it earlier in the hike but it lead me to the Pedernales Falls Road (the wrong road). One thing is for certain, I will make better use of the compass on my smart phone in the future instead of relying on my instinct.
I drove home in the dark and made my usual stop at Starbucks in Bee Cave before heading the last 5 miles to my house. Altogether, I walked 12 miles and burned over 750 calories which gave me the excuse to finish up the remains of the chocolate cake from the party. After spending time in the hot tub easing the aches out of my muscles, I relaxed for the evening with my dogs sitting on the couch by my side, pleased to see me and having forgiven me for not taking them with me. Oh, the undying love of a dog. There is nothing to equal it.