Thursday, April 20, 2017
What Kind of Fool Hikes to an Overlook in the Dark??
OK, in my defense, that wasn't the original plan at all!
Though South Llano River State Park is in my home state, it still takes a good part of the day to get from here to there, so it was late afternoon before I got to my campsite and later still by the time I unwound and had a chance to study the trail map.
It was still a little early to call it a day, but given the lateness of the hour I didn't want to get into anything too ambitious, so I grabbed the vest that makes up part of my nature trail, or 'casual stroll' gear and decided to check out the nearby Juniper bird blind.
But as I ambled on by the walk-in camping area and approached the blind I could hear voices. And I mean HEAR voices!
It was clear that there were at least three, and probably more like a gaggle, of people at the blind already. It was also clear that, instead of any interest in wildlife spotting, they were treating the blind like the bar at the local bowling alley on league night, complete with raucous laughs loud enough to make a deaf man wince.
Now I'm sure any reasonable person would find this situation annoying, and I, having never quite reached the lofty heights of reasonableness, was pissed. I wasn't ready to just turn around and go back to The Van, but after strongly suggesting that the current blind occupants 'try shutting the hell up for a while' I figured I wasn't going to be warmly welcomed into their little cluck-clatch, (And yet I continue to wonder why I have so few friends. . .)
so I checked my trail map for an alternative and there she sat; point of interest #5 of 5; the Scenic Overlook; and less than a mile away.
Of course most of that mile was pretty damn steep. So steep that even though it's paved (At one time you could drive up there but not any more.) it's the only trail in the park where bikes are banned. I guess the rangers got tired of scooping up the shattered bits of failed daredevils at the bottom of the hill with shovels and plastic trash bags.
The only real problem with my new plan was the rapidly dropping sun out there to the west.
OK - so maybe that wasn't the only problem - maybe, somewhere out there to the west and heading this way, there was also a squall line. It wasn't due for hours yet, but the sky was already doing some interesting, and perhaps slightly scary, things and once in a while there was just the faintest rumble of rolling thunder. (That sky looks suspiciously like the kind of thing from which something is about to reach down and give the foolish a dope-slap!)
But at least it was quiet up here in terms of human-generated noise, though by the time I did; stubbornly fixated on my alternate destination; get to the actual lookout itself the sun was below the horizon and it sure did look like that squall line was closer than a few hours out! And here I am standing up there all by myself with nobody but - well, me - knowing where I'm at,
As the sun battled with the clouds things got - well let's not use the S word (Scary) and just say - interesting there for a bit and I started to get that tingly feeling in the backs of my legs. You know, the same feeling you get when standing too close to the edge of a cliff?
After all, any even partially sane person would have come up here in daylight, would have chosen a nice sunny day with no storms anywhere within a day's drive.
You know, when you could actually see some of the scenery from the Scenic Outlook, and do so without risking Mother Nature ripping your shirt open, slapping the paddles on your chest and shouting 'CLEAR'!!
When, with a decent zoom, you could look out into the adjacent ranches
and make harmless bets on whether the cows would knock the rancher down or not as he spread feed-pellets from the bag in the back of the truck.
But - well - things don't always work out that way and by the time this damn fool started back down the hill it was more by touch than sight. (When branches start clawing at your face you know you're off the trail!)
But there's something out there that once in a while, pretty much randomly, watches out for drunks falling off second-story balconies and idiots bumbling around on dark and stormy nights, and I made it back to The Van pretty much intact.
And that squall line? Well it came through around 2 AM, right on schedule, and slapped the heck out of The Van for a while.
I briefly worried about any tenters out there trying not to get Dorthy-ed into Oz, but, selfish bastard that I am, I rolled over and let the storm rock me back to sleep.