Sunday, April 26, 2015

Polly's Horse Camp

Down in the southern end of Pedernales Falls SP, on the western flank of Butler mountain, is Polly's Horse Camp. Given the location of the camp and history of this land, I would bet this used to be at least a semi permanently occupied camp, part of the ranch that this place used to be, during the 1800's and into the first half of the 1900's. Perhaps Polly used to have a small cabin tucked into the trees there with a well stocked, if basic, kitchen and a bottomless coffeepot.

Now days the camp is located near the end of the southeast leg of the 12+ mile Southern Loop Horse Trail (In my experience very few riders and virtually no hikers use the equestrian trails so they make for very good hiking when the more popular trails are seeing heavier usage.) and is only a quarter mile or so from the county road which gives easy access to stock trailers, assuming you've got a key to open the gate with.

Originally there was a wind-powered pump used to lift water up out of the well and into a concrete tank.

But now, when you're laying there in your bedroll at night, you have to imagine listening to the slow clackity creaking of water being lifted up out of the earth one or two cups at a time, because a new well has since been drilled and a silent solar powered pump and some electronics keeps the original concrete storage tank filled instead.

Adjacent to the tank is a water-trough for wildlife and livestock, though the park system absolves itself of all humanoid responsibility by posting a big 'Non-Potable Water Only' sign above the hydrant at the side of the tank.

The camp, conveniently located at roughly the halfway point of the loop trail, is in a nice open meadow with an inviting grove of oak and cedar in the center.

A rather new looking set of portable stalls stands ready for the next group of equine explorers,

and it's location on the flank of the "mountain" ensures a decent breeze moving up out of the Butler Creek watershed with distant views to the northwest (When it's not raining that is!) while the Twin Buttes loom across the valley to the west.

My pack looks pretty lonely parked over there on the table to the left, but I can just imagine people gathered in the evening around the fire, laughing and bullshitting telling stories, while dinner sizzles up on the grills; roast potatoes and corn on the cob on one, hamburgers and chicken on the other, with a pot of beans staying hot beside the fire.

Makes me want to go out and buy a horse just so I can join them! (I wonder if a plastic head with a yellow and purple yarn mane stuck on the end of a broomstick would count. . .)

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