Technically this cuddly little guy is called Echinocactus Texensis
. But since trying to say that is a pain in the ass, most normal people, and some abnormals like maybe me, call it the Horse Crippler.
But this is an equal-opportunity kinda guy, so if you are going to go off-trail, on horse or on foot, here in South Llano, or anywhere else this lovable little gem hangs out, it might be a good idea to watch out!
Not that I would ever do that! Go off trail. Nooo. Not me - - -
Speaking of trails, because I'm such a sensible, intelligent sort of guy, after hobbling around on a bum foot for 6.5 miles the first day here, my second day's hike at South Llano was a masochistic followup of 8 miles, because
- well you know -
it seemed like a sensible thing to do at the time.
Right up until those last three miles that is - - -
But by that point my only viable option was to live with my stupidity and finish hiking on out to The Van.
The high point of that hike, in literal terms, as well as pastoral, was the line-shack and windmill on the imaginatively named Windmill Hill.
Here, in addition to the re-tinned line-shack, there's a large concrete tank below the windmill, a piece of which is just barely visible there beyond the shack, and a series of old livestock handling pens behind and to the right, and for some reason I always feel comfortably at home every time I come up here.
I can only peer in through the windows at the now empty space inside the shack, but I can't help but feel that I would find the rustic abode with its old door so dried out with time and weather that you can see light though the gaps, a very accommodating place.
A view across the canyon, a cot. a chair, a rustic table with a lamp on it, some shelves for essentials and a book or two, a couple of hooks for the few necessary bits of clothing, (In my opinion there is nothing more useless and socially harmful as the fashion industry. I'm not talking about the clothing industry. After all, of the three essentials of survival lack of shelter is the one that will kill you fastest and clothing is the first line of shelter. I'm talking about the fashion industry that preys upon and feeds people's insecurities, that fans the flames of "ooh, ooh! look at me! I'm special because some random person with a sewing machine yet no socially redeeming qualities says so".) a stove to stoke for heat and cooking, a fire-ring and a three-legged stool for when it's too hot for the stove, a bucket for filling from the tap at the well-head, and just generally living within the proper circadian ans seasonal rhythm of nature.
What more could a person ask for?!
Here's a place where a person could not only shelter but feel right with the world while doing so. Judiciously using resources while actively managing them rather than reverting to mindless conspicuous consumption and believing that an endless supply of water is only a tap-twist away, that flicking a switch is all it takes to negate the day-night cycle of the natural world, that cooking is done by pushing a button until the beep, that seasonal comfort is all about twisting a dial and sucking enormous amounts of resources, that - - - aaannnnd with that I've stomped my soapbox to the point of breaking once again - - - so let's move on.
The third day I recovered some of my common sense and limited myself to another 6.5 mile hike.
But not wanting to take this common-sense nonsense too far, I immediately jumped off with a climb
up the switch-backing Overlook Trail.
Being pretty crap at this videoing stuff I managed to cut myself off mid-sentence at the end of this one. As I was trying
to say before I so rudely interrupted myself - as with most climbs you can't really see the top until you get there, and it's always farther than you expect.
They are doing some serious work here at South Llano.
Used to be, and still is today but not for much longer, just after turning off the highway into the park you cross the South Llano River on a low-water crossing. I guess because more people that don't know about these things are moving into the state, they are building an actual bridge across the river right now.
They also put a swooptydoo in the middle of the entrance road and are building a new park headquarters in the space they created.
There will certainly be plenty of parking, and I suppose it will be more efficient and all,
but it will be kinda sad to see the current headquarters with its space for a half-dozen cars and two RV's abandoned.
Right now headquarters in one of the original ranch-houses.
In fact the check-in area is in the old living-room and entered from the front porch, which has a certain elegant symmetry to it since this is exactly were visitors have been received for close to two hundred years.
But I guess they'd rather spend money on "modernizing" facilities than rehabbing and protecting land.
Just this month the state lost yet another state park. It was on leased land and the new owners wish to turn the lake and shoreline currently occupied by the public park into an exclusive gated community for a few rich
asswipes people with more money than sense of social responsibility.
Oh well. one of the purposes of an upcoming project of mine is to keep on hiking, even if I have to go into evermore remote places to do so.