Monday, October 5, 2020

One Last Hike in Lost Maples

OK, I know y'all are probably getting pretty tired of Lost Maples by now, but seeing as how this trip was done in February of 2020 during the last few precious days of "normal" times, I'm milking the memories for all they're worth, so bear with me for one more post here.

Last hike, for this trip anyway. And not by choice.

It's Friday, the campground is fully reserved for the weekend, and my name isn't on any of those reservations. To get a weekend slot here you have to plan a lot farther ahead than I did. (And this was before Corona released hoards of neophyte campers out into the wild with their brand new RV's, shiny new boots, and overly large and smoky fires!)

So this morning, knowing I was going to be on the trail well past the noon GET-YOUR-MANGY-BUTT-OUT-OF-MY-SITE deadline I moved The Van up to the trailhead parking-lot in front of the Murphy House.

It's warmer this morning than yesterday's 27 degrees - but not by much. The temp is 32 as I gear up for this hike.

Can you see them up there? That little white dot sitting high up on the ridge in the sunshine while I stand down here in the shadows freezing my ass off? (I'm pretty sure my left thumb has already fallen off but I am not going to take my glove off to check.)

This is the pair of Redtail Hawks that built that nest I showed a few posts back, just sitting up there soaking some morning rays and surveying their territory. (Yeah, that 50X optical zoom on my Cannon SX50 does a fairly decent job doesn't it. Not as good as a setup that costs twice as much and is more cumbersome to haul around, but not horrible either. I think I'll just hang onto this well used and abused camera for the time being.)

I just hope I don't look too tasty down here. . .

Today's hike is simple. Around the West Trail, clockwise this time since I've already done some or all of it counterclockwise a couple times this week.

Which means I start out by turning left at the Y and climbing up past the old ranch headquarters, now the Superintendent's residence.

More climbing puts me opposite Primitive Camp D, which is tucked up against the south boundary of the park in a side-canyon to the left,

  then along some ledges

and up a rocky creek-bed, thankful that it's not raining and the footing is dry as I squeeze by some rock faces,

and finally top out on the ridge near Primitive Camp E which is over there behind the trees somewhere.

Now, after all that climbing, I have to drop right back down the other side of the ridge through Mystic Canyon as I head towards my lunch spot.

Dropping down, or climbing up, Mystic Canyon is not your groomed-trail stroll. It's narrow and gnarly in here with the trail sharing space with the creek-bed in several places. And yes, if you take it slow and quiet, it can be an enchanted place with perhaps just a touch of spookiness thrown in when the wind blows just right.

What a great place to hike!

My lunch-spot destination is beyond the lower end of Mystic Canyon near a spring on Can Creek.

When I leave the trail and climb down towards the creek to find a location away from any potential foot-traffic where I can hang out in peace for a while (I originally wrote chill out instead of hang out, but - well, it's cold enough today without talk like that!) I come across this big (I'm guessing 8 inch) steel pipe laying down there.

I'm sure that it was used at one point to pipe water from a spring up the creek to somewhere else, but who needed that much water up here?

Now, based on the tiny little footprints, it apparently serves as a raccoon highway

that ends rather abruptly where some flash-flood in the past ripped the thick metal away like wet paper.

All week long I've been coming across these, and every time the bright color tricks me into thinking it's either some trash I need to pick up or else someone has dropped an M&M, but in actuality they belong there. They are some sort of very hard nut/seed.

One final trip past the ponds, where I briefly lost my live-in-the-now and succumbed to the melancholy-of-endings since this is pretty much the period that punctuates the last of this trip.

Which The Van, the Quad-B, and I officially end by spending the night at the eastbound I-10 rest area at mile 514 near Kerrville prior to heading the rest of the way home in the morning.


  1. Looks like a great hike but a little too cold for me. I did do 43° last Christmas Day at Miller Canyon and that felt like perfect weather.

    1. I don't know what to think about a midwesterner that finds freezing temps too cold! (maybe smart??)