Monday, January 11, 2021

Dang! Who Left the Freezer Door Open?!

 When you're a morning person like me, up and ready to get at it at the first hint of daylight, you learn to check the time first lest it's just the full moon trying to trick you into getting up at 0327 in the morning. (Yep, done that more than once.) And that's why, since my only time-piece is my phone, it is always within lazy arm-reach when I'm sleeping.

And that proximity is also why, even though I was asleep, I heard it buzz the second morning of my stay at South Llano River State Park in early December.

Now it's not supposed to buzz like that since I don't set an alarm, nor allow any audible notifications, and it was set to airplane mode so there couldn't be any incoming calls, but buzz it did. So I snaked a reluctant arm out of my snug sleeping bag to see what the hell was going on.

Black screen and no response to my unlocking-fingerprint.

I pushed harder and finally got an anemic buzz out of the phone, accompanied by a very brief notification that the battery was too low to turn on before it went black again, (The first buzz I heard must have been when the phone shut itself off) which was weird since it was fully charged when I went to bed a few hours ago.

At least I think it was a few hours ago but now I don't have a clock to verify that.

I wasn't happy about it, but I unzipped my sleeping bag and left it's cuddle-worthy warmth for the shocking chill of The Van so I could plug the charging cord into the dang thing. After all, I am into the second half of my 6th decade so maybe I only thought it was charged last night and since this phone carries one of my two backup maps when out on the trail I wanted to make sure the battery was full and ready to go in the morning.

Now normally I like learning new things, like the fact that, even though I can't display it when I want to, my phone has a thermometer inside it so it knows when it's too cold (or hot) for battery charging. But frankly, as I stood there in the frigid air in my all-together trying to keep at least one foot up off the painfully bitter slab that is normally The Van's floor at all times while attempting to get that tiny little plug into that tiny little hole, I could have done without this particular learning experience.

Now I was not only cold but curious and checked The Van's thermometer, (27 degrees outside, 31 degrees inside. Humm, maybe that's why the fridge hasn't cycled on all night.) pulled aside the shade to check the eastern horizon, (Nope, no sign of the sun yet) then jumped back into my sleeping bag, taking the phone with me to warm it up above that too-cold threshold.

Eventually, when I once again risked extending my head beyond the warm coziness of my well-lofted cocoon far enough to peek out under the shade, the sun was sneaking up on the horizon and I could legitimately get up and get going. (Yep, now that the phone was warm it was also magically charged up and ready to go as well.)

It certainly wasn't any warmer when I climbed out of my sleeping bag this time, but a cup of hot oatmeal, two pair of socks, a base-layer, two shirts and a heavy jacket, two pair of nested gloves, a neck-gaiter to camouflage my turkey-wattle and hide my stubble, not to mention slip up over my nose to keep it from freezing blue and falling off, a thin skull-cap which fits nicely under my hat but also does a surprisingly good job of keeping my ears warm, and this southern-dweller was ready to hit the winter trail.

Not long after I set out, even before my blood had time to get properly circulating, I passed this thermometer hanging outside one of the bird-blinds.

Despite the claim of the name on it, I thought maybe the thermometer was reading a little low, but a half mile later I passed another bird-blind, and another thermometer, which was reading the same.

Ah well, it's a glorious day anyway so let's go hiking!

Yesterday I looped the eastern side of the park. Today the plan is to loop the western side. And like yesterday, today I'll do the loop clockwise. It's not what I normally do, go clockwise, and I don't have any real explanation for the change-up, but that's what I did.

Aww! Isn't the destructive little critter cute?!


It's highly unlikely that mom reciprocates and thinks that I'm cute too.

In fact, give her half a reason and she'll stomp my ass!


One of the group, scattered along both sides of the trail and effectively, very effectively, blocking my progress, has spotted me.

With only a modicum of alarm, befitting my puny stature I suppose, the sounder (the official title of a group of feral hogs) moved off to the right, towards the creek-bed.

And none too soon either! It's awfully chilly this morning to be just standing around like this.

Soon I am in the vicinity of the Canyon Seep, POI #4, which isn't far from the apparently disused primitive camping area.

There are 4 different formats for GPS coordinates and my GPS always seems to be set on the wrong one,

so rather than fiddle around with it to change formats and actually zero in on the coordinates of the seep, I just left the trail behind and set off clambering up the creek-bed, one careful step at a time in the jumbled rocks and twisted remains of trees swept downstream, in an attempt to find it sans-technology.

In my mind I was equating this seep with Fern Cave in Caprock or The Grotto in Lost Maples. But if I did actually find the seep, it was a rather nondescript stain a few inches wide and maybe three feet long in the canyon wall that I didn't even bother taking a photo of.

So, somewhat deflated, I retraced my steps and continued on with my hike.

But the trail always gives back eventually and I came across this guy later near the western edge of the park. 

 And as an extra bonus, as I was finishing up the hike by cutting down the restricted access road behind the service area before making the final turn back into the campground, I came across this guy.

He-she is actually pretty dang big and at first I thought it was a coyote, but a closer look revealed that it was a rather elegant looking fox instead, albeit a big one.

So the day may have started out ridiculously cold, but by the time I closed it out with dinner back at The Van it turned out to be another great day on the trails.


  1. Very nice animal photos. Definitely a good hiking day.

    I had to replace the battery on my three year old phone last month for $50 after I couldn’t make it on my morning walk without getting that battery warning. I tell you, getting a new battery is almost like getting a new phone and a lot cheaper.

  2. At least you could swap out the battery. My phone is sealed up tight. Great for water resistance but sucks when the battery dies

  3. As I've mentioned on Brewed Journey's blog, I think it's a high compliment when animals show themselves. Mega Congrats!