Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Went camping at Enchanted Rock this last weekend.

I've been going on this yearly trip to the Rock for about 5 or 6 years now. A friend of mine, his brother and their friends all started going there in the 70s when they were going to UT and many of them were working as life guards at Barton Springs. The used to have LOTS of illicit fun on those early trips, and some of them still keep those fires burnin' a bit now. But now most of them are middle-aged geezers with kids and the trip has changed a lot, and the park has changed too. It used to be pretty uncrowded and spartan. Now it's one of the most popular sites in the state and you have to get reservations months in advance if you want to camp there. Even if you're just driving up and want to climb the rock, you can find yourself waiting in line to get in. They only allow so many cars in at one time.

Once you get in, you'll find, as camping goes, it's roughing it with a very small "R". They have a primitive camping area around the other side of the main rock for backpackers, but we don't do that. We're car campers, par excellence. Air mattresses and gas stoves, and boom boxes with the appropriate tunes, and lots of nice coolers filled with your beverage of choice. Hot showers and flush toilets were within easy walking distance of our camp, which was right at the base of one of the rocks. I couldn't believe they'd managed to get these choice sites when I got there Saturday afternoon. It's first come, first served, and usually the best sites are taken when we get there. Last time we went we were on the other side of the street from the rock, down the way from the bathrooms, and had a fire ant infestation. I brought a bag of ant powder this time, but we didn't have issues. Those bastards can really fuck up a weekend.

The Rock is actually a set of 3 pink granite domes rising out of the western hill country south of Llano and north of Fredericksburg. The name comes from its history of being a camp site for Indians for thousands of years, and there is still lots of evidence of their presence. The park rangers don't broadcast the sites, for obvious reasons, but there are places where you can see where they ground corn on the rock, as well as pictographs. There's also an interesting story about a Texas Ranger captain named Jack Hayes who supposedly held off dozens of Comanches in the 1840s from some crevice in the main dome. Story says he shimmied himself into a crack so they could only get at him from the front, and then used his revolvers to convince them to eventually move on.

We've walked all over those rocks in the past, and the tradition is that we always explore the smaller ones first, and then go up to the top of the big one on the last day. I lay out and rest while some of the adults and most of the kids go exploring a set of caves that were carved out by water erosion in the top. This trip was no different. We saw lots of nice sized deer, and got to hear coyotes barking and howling in the night. I had a squirrel living in the roof over my picnic table who came out to investigate my gear on occasion. Experience has taught me to lock up or put away anything the coons or squirrels might be able to get into. Lost a steak once in broad daylight to a coon that undid the latch on the cooler and drug it off into the woods while I was talking to people in the next camp. Those little fuckers are brazen as hell. Gotta love em.

I took pictures with my usual disposable quickie from HEB, but haven't had them put on a disc yet, so here's a picture from last years trip just to get you started.

The guy in the middle is my buddy, who now is celebrating finally finishing his book on Custer and the Indian wars. Sent it to the publisher and only has to come up with a last short chapter to wrap it up. That's his daughter he's holding, and his brother to his left, his brothers kid, some other kid in the red shorts, I don't remember, and some other dude who must have wandered into the shot. I'll never tell.

We usually have nice weather for these trips, though it can rain or get cold occasionally. One guy always comes up for one night and brings a very nice telescope. We star gaze if the night is clear, but it wasn't this time. The weather was a little hot in the day time, but cloudy and cool at night. Perfect for sleeping in the tent. We were afraid it might rain, but it didn't. We always bring too much food, and the problem is worse now since we've begun to take advantage of nearby restaurants for at least one dinner and lunch. Ate BBQ at Cooper's in Llano the first night, and then had lunch at the Altdorf in Fredericksburg on Sunday. They were having Octoberfest there, but we didn't stick around. Cooked taters and BBQ ribs Sunday night. Nothin' like cookin' over a camp fire with friends.


Anonymous said...

I need to get back up there. I haven't been since 2001.

I used to think I was in ok shape for a mid 30's computer jockey until I saw some 80 year old men passing me on the way up the rock.

Great post BTW can't wait for some pictures.

Fathairybastard said...

Still have 9 shots left on the camera, so It'll be a while.

Mushy said...

Man, you have got to go digital! We can't wait that long!

Great post.

Next time, tell that fat, hairy, bastard to stay out of you photo shots!

I'm going to Big South Fork in a few weeks to do the same thing...but should be much cooler then. We prefer snow.

Glad you're back...got lonely around the blogging neighborhood.

lauritajuanitasanchez said...

I'm jealous. I used to love to camp.

Fathairybastard said...

We're talking about moving the trip to Veterans Day weekend next year, so it will be cooler. Yer sweatin' like a fat hairy bastard when yer climbin' the rock and it's 88 degrees. Welcome to Texas in October.

And I am horribly technologically backward. Used to be cutting edge, but my cool cameras died from regular use all over the world and now I use the grocery store disposables. They do a great job, but they're not as handy.

DirtCrashr said...

Grocery store disposables can do OK if you get the film transferred to CD and mess with (correct) the levels a bit. The underwater ones can anyhow.