Monday, September 21, 2020

A Nippy Meander to Lost Maple's Grotto

It was 27 degrees this morning (February 2020) and a smart person would have huddled in The Van for a few hours with a hot cup of oatmeal clenched in his hands, but - - well, you know - -

Instead I was headed in the direction of the Grotto, because why not?

During color season this parking lot at the day-use area fills to overflowing and they end up closing the park to new visitors. This morning there was one car out there that I later found out belonged to a young couple camping at Primitive Camp A.

I'm normally a pretty slow hiker, but once in a while I get downright snailish, shuffling forward, or maybe sideways, or even backwards, for a few steps then stopping, looking around, and just enjoying being there for however long the spirit wants.

This was one of those meander days

and it took me from breakfast through to dinner to cover about 6 miles.

Today, up behind this carefully terraced tree across on the other side of the river

I found the reasonably modern (poured concrete floor) remains of a house

on a bench above the river.

That's all I got.

Other than speculation I haven't been able to find out anything else about it.

So I meandered on.

Did I mention it got a little nippy overnight?

In 1983 there was a real freeze in Texas. It lasted for days and plumbers all over the state were in plumber-heaven crawling through vented attics (Yep, that's where tract-house plumbing and water-heaters go in south and central Texas) replacing burst pipes.

This event included Christmas day, a day that The Wife and I were here at Lost Maples. (All alone. Not even a ranger to give our entry fee to. Yep, this was back in the days when we were still courting and The Wife would grit her teeth and travel with me once in a while, though this trip she was damn glad we could afford a hotel room in Hondo and didn't have to stay in the tent like we planned.)

When we got to the Grotto that day ice was sheeting off the rocks above us as the morning sun did it's stuff.

It was a magical thing.

There wasn't near that much ice today,

but there was enough to keep me entranced for a few hours as it slowly melted away,

once in a while sending a cold dagger crashing down into the soft tufa below, leaving a scar that will take decades to repair. (From the conspiritalist part of my childhood I remember the story about the woman that killed her husband with a frozen leg of lamb then made the murder weapon disappear by feeding it to the detective!)

I finished up by making a side trip back to the bird-blind, but the birds were smarter than me today and stayed snuggled up at home.

Cold or not, it turned out to be a great day for a meander.

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