Enchanted Rock

This last weekend, I went on a little weekend trip with my family. Mom drove Grandma back to Harlingen at the beginning of the week, and I was sad to see her go. I’ve been going out to GP to see her about three times a week for the last month. Lindsey flew there and met Mom, and they drove to San Marcos to do some outlet shopping. Dad, Lindsey’s boyfriend Shea and I drove down and met them in Llano, where we spent the night. I thought the Llano winery was there, but apparently it’s in Lubbock. Cause that makes more sense.

The next morning, everyone but Mom got up early and headed to Enchanted Rock, a giant rock in the Hill Country we Texans call a “mountain.” This is the view of a neighboring rock on the way up.img_7216

We took the straight, quick path up the rock and decided to take a longer, more circuitous way down. The hike up was fast but tough – it’s pretty steep. The rock face is pretty smooth, and there were rocks scattered around, some trees and cactus. It was early morning, so it was still pretty cool out. We stopped a lot and took pictures while we breathed and looked back at how high we’d gotten. Dad and I raced a few times, and the pictures of me sitting down on the rock in exhaustion are pretty funny, but they’re on Dad’s camera. But don’t worry – there are some embarrassing photos of me a little further on here.

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We got to the top after about an hour (maybe less), and the view was pretty spectacular, by Texas standards. The Hill Country is really one of the only areas of the state with significant heights; it’s pretty flat as a general rule. There were little craters along the top area where water pools, and there were some pretty little plants, flowers and moss ponds.

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We stayed at the top for a bit and then headed down the back side.

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This is where things started to get a little sticky. Look how happy I look – no idea the scariness that awaits me!

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The back side is extremely steep in places. I don’t know what the whole thing looks like, but in the area we were trying to get down, there were two choices for downhill terrain: climbing across giant, flat rocks with big, deep cracks, or climbing into/out of/through little cave-type areas where rocks had fallen down around each other. Here are the flat rocks.

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We decided the little caves might be a little easier than the big, flat rocks, especially since Shea told us he’s done it before. Here we are entering the mini-caves – they were actually a lot of fun to play around in, and good exercise.

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We got through several just fine, for almost an hour actually, and then, as we were getting down toward the valley between the two giant rocks, we got stuck in what Lindsey dubbed the Cave O’ Death. It was like Hotel California! We slid down into it and found no easy way out, but we had slipped down into it from such an angle that made it nearly impossible (for us amateurs) to get out. Here are Dad and Lindsey climbing down into it.That area behind her was really steep, and she had on slippery shorts!

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That’s Lindsey trying to find a way under the rock instead of over it, as Shea suggested she do. It was funny. Inside, Dad, Shea and Lindsey all made it up on this giant rock near what we thought was an exit, but I refused, seeing an 8-foot ravine right next to it. I haven’t felt that kind of primal fear many times in my life – the ominous feeling that tells you that you will die if you do what you’re about to do – but it was quite clear in telling me not to attempt it! I decided to go the other way instead, toward two teeny tiny high openings on the other side, and Dad came with me so I didn’t have to go alone. It took a while, but we shimmied up the rock wall and through a hole not much bigger than a doggie door. Only scratched my legs a little. Lindsey and Shea had a harder time of it – they met a dead end at the top of the Rock O’ Death, and I’m not quite sure how they got out – they may have climbed up the way we came in. Lindsey had to climb down and up and down again on that giant scary rock, and she scraped her arm at some point in the process. She did good, though! I was very proud of her!

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After we all made it out of and around the Cave O’ Death and down the big, flat rocks, there was another surprise waiting for us! There was a wide, flat area leading down to the valley trail. It was an extremely steep angle, and getting down it required crab walking on your butt, feet and hands. There were a few big rocks to hold onto, but they were at such weird angles that they weren’t much help. It was about 30 feet of rock face to roll down if you slipped, and I have to say, it was scary! There was a big rock wall in front of us, and I just kept picturing smashing my poor little head against it! Shea went first, then Dad, then Lindsey and then me. I just kept thinking hey, if Lindsey can do this in her slippery shorts, I can do it! I went really slow, and I eventually made it to the next area. At some point, a dude in rock-climbing shoes walked upright past me like, hey, what are you doing on the ground? It was a little embarrassing, but whatever – look at this thing! Am I crazy or does sliding down this thing on your face sound a little scary??

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It was around this point where I cut my finger on a sharp rock, and I started bleeding a little. It kind of surprised me because it didn’t really hurt, and I got blood all over my shirt and my camera before realizing it. Here’s a little of my blood that I left on the mountainside (!). To keep it from bleeding all over me, I held my finger up in the air as I climbed across the rock down to the trail below. I fully realized how stupid I looked at the time, so here are some photos Lindsey took for your heckling pleasure. Have you ever seen that episode of Frazier where Niles catches his apartment on fire with his iron while he’s cooking dinner and cuts his finger with some scissors and keeps passing out at the sight of his blood, so he holds his finger up in the air so he can’t see it? It was kind of like that, without the fainting or the Jack Russell Terrier or the fire.

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We eventually made it down to the path, much to my sad little relief. Shea gave us Band-aids and we sat and took a break before walking the trail around the whole place. The trail was much more interesting that anything around Dallas – it went up and down rock hills, over little streams, and we saw lots of different kinds of cactus, flowers, plants and trees. It was a really pretty day, sunny and cool, and aside from the scary parts, it was awesome! In recent years, my dad has turned into Awesome Mountain Man – he bikes, hikes, and kayaks on a weekly basis, weather permitting. He wants us all to try Texoma and the Fort Worth Nature Center next in preparation for a trip to Palo Duro Canyon. I told him as long as we don’t attempt amateur spelunking again, I’m good to go!

When we were done with the rock, we were rewarded with Cooper’s BBQ, which is apparently quasi-famous – W drives over from Crawford periodically (I wonder if he has to wait in line). You line up outside the restaurant, and it ends at the outdoor BBQ pit. They have every meat you could ever want, and you point at what you want, and they cut a portion of it, dip it into the sauce bucket, and slap it down onto a cafeteria-style tray. Then you carry that inside, and they weigh and price it, and you get whatever extras you want (the sweet tea was awesome). The meat comes with all-you-can-eat beans in a big pot on each side of the restaurant. But these are no ordinary beans – they’re real beans, like Mexican bean soup, complete with whole jalapenos floating in them.

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I had the brisket, which was quite amazing. But then I tried some of Dad’s chicken (the best by far of all the meat I tried there), and in my exuberance to get more spilled my ramekin of “Witches Brew,” the sauce you dip your meat in. Each table comes with its own jar of whole jalapenos. A mark of a good restaurant, in my opinion. Good stuff, that Cooper’s BBQ. All in all, a great weekend!

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3 Responses

  1. I could have told you the Llano winery was in Lubbock! Sounds like you’ve had an adventure. I’ve been to Enchanted Rock, but I don’t remember much of it.

  2. I’m glad you had a good time, but it looks so scary! I was cracking up at the man walking right by you upright!

  3. This didn’t get REALLY interesting until the BBQ picture!

    🙂

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