BJ and I decided that it was time for us to get off our combined ass’s and get back out on the trail again. Well , maybe BJ, who is way too much of a lady, didn’t put it quite like that but you get my drift. Anyway, she suggested that we walk one of the trails at Bastrop State Park which incidentally, I had hiked a couple of years ago. Always ready to walk with my friend, we made arrangements to meet at the Park Office. This being situated in her hometown meant a very short drive. For me, living almost 40 miles away, it meant an hours drive which I didn’t mind as my new truck (to me), is a pleasure to drive.
I looked online and the Park is requiring pre registration for day hikers which was no trouble. I was even able to pay and by printing the receipt, which incidentally, was also on my cell phone, would save us some time when we checked in. We met at the Park Office and after showing the same printed receipts to the Park Ranger behind the counter and receiving suggestions on which trails to take, made our way to the trail entrance. This was situated on top of a hill which also contained, the Bathrooms and tent and RV parking areas. There were several other people there and one family was quite obviously staying in one of the tents and incidentally, were maskless. I suppose they felt secure enough in the open air but both BJ and I were very careful to make sure that we had our masks on which we kept on for our entire time together. We both come from separate environments and neither of us wanted to take any chances.
We finally located the trail head after much discussion about where it was and started hiking. I imagine that this park was absolutely beautiful when all of the lob lolly pines were standing prior to the fire back in 2011. Much work has been done by armies of volunteers who have planted thousands of loblolly pines to replace those that were lost and they are all growing well, some of which are 10-12 feet tall already. Nature has also helped with many of its own natural regrowth. Give it another 20 years or so, and the Park could well return to its former glory. Remnants and reminders of the fire surrounded us throughout the walk with gaunt spectres of burnt trees that are still standing and dotting the immediate vicinity and on the horizon. It will probably take even longer for most of the those to eventually fall. Such are the cycles of Nature.
The trail itself was very interesting to walk on. At the top portion, the trail comprised of small pebbles but as we walked down the hill, it turned into sand with large ironstone rocks sticking up in many places, making for much easier walking. The temperature was hovering around 60 degrees but the wind was a little cool and we were both glad to have on our light jackets. At the bottom of the hill, we came across a couple of bridges making for interesting pictures. At another place, we located a sign and a rock structure that apparently used to be a natural water fountain. The sign also stated that the most recent fire was responsible for uncovering the find after it being overgrown and “lost” for many years. Apparently, even forest fires have some good things to them. One tree in particular had a huge number of pine cones still on it. BJ suggested that the tree was dying and was putting forth a last gasp effort to reproduce. Some of the branches and pine needles still on the tree certainly did show signs of decay.
The trail that we were on brought us to the top of the hill where there is both a Parking Lot and a rock shelter which was also built by the Civilian Conservation Corp way back in 1933 or thereabouts. They built a lot of structures in this park and much has to be said for their workmanship as those building remain today and most are in great shape and in constant use. This Overlook is a good example of their work.
We sat for probably 45 minutes just enjoying the view and catching up on our respective lives and mutual interests and of course, discussing the state of American Politics. Both of us are Biden supporters so it is easy to agree on most of our views. Good thing too as our friendship might be sorely strained if either of us supported the other guy. Another family passed as we sat, again without masks so we gave them time to move on before making our own move back down the hill. We had to walk down Park Road A3 for a couple of hundred yards before heading back onto the trail which would eventually bring us back to the Parking Area and our respective vehicles. Again, the walk back even though most of it was uphill, was easy and very pleasant. It felt great to be out and about with Nature.
BJ took off and before heading home, I took the time to drive around the RV camping area to get an idea of what they had to offer. There were several RV’s already there but also spaces for others. They had full hookups, water, sewer and electricity and the sites themselves were pull throughs and pretty level. What I really liked though was that the sites were not on top of each other and the next RV was quite some distance away. On the way out, I stopped at the Office to enquire on the costs and availability and have earmarked that for my next camping trip. Interestingly enough, they only allow long term monthly stays from December through the end of February. I suppose, this being Texas with it’s reasonable winter climate, that makes sense as March on is probably the start of their busy season. Of course, monthly does not apply to me yet with my “bricks and sticks” only 40 miles away and live Koi and ponds to take care of.
All in all, we covered around 3 miles of relatively easy walking on a day with the temperatures just right and the company, even better.