Field Trip - Sunrise at Enchanted Rock

an early morning alarm wakes me from my slumber, in my groggy state i make some coffee and head out into the darkness. two hours west through the texas hill country to enchanted rock state park, and just as i pull into the parking lot the first glimpses of sun begin to kiss the giant granite formation. i hustle up the rock and make it to the top right as the sun fully shows itself over the eastern horizon. i sit in solitude, snapping photos and taking in the sweeping views amidst a whipping morning wind. 

i make my way over to the "caves" which are actually just passage ways created by massive boulders when i run into a group of early morning rock climbers. we exchange pleasantries before going our separate ways.

as the park begins to fill up i head back down enchanted rock and up turkey peak directly across from where i just stood. upon reaching the top i again sit in solace watching, from a distance, the hoards of people making their way up the rock. 

i spend several hours rambling around the park, watching the sun illuminate the land. and before the heat of the texas summer begins to pick up i am already on my way home. 

Field Trip - Bastrop State Park

we returned to bastrop state park a mere five months after our first visit and the regrowth is amazing and abundant. even in the heat of the texas summer new growth is flourishing and flora is beginning to carpet the ground. although the park is slowly making a come back, the charred loblolly pines standing tall above the forest floor still serve as a stark reminder of the devastation that occurred during the wildfire of two thousand and eleven. 

National Park Road Trip - Day Nine

day nine; guadalupe mountains national park. final stop.

after our time at carlsbad caverns we had two options, head home or check out the guadalupe mountains national park right over the border in texas. although we had read up a bit on this national park before it was not something we had planned on seeing during this trip, but with the day still young we decided to head back to the lone star state. the park is home to guadalupe peak, the highest point in texas. although there are a multitude of hikes throughout the mountains we knew that if we were going to do any of them it was going to be that one. 

we head into the ranger station to inquire about hiking the peak and doing some backcountry camping near the summit. the young ranger enthusiastically gave us all the details about the hike, took down our info and issued us our backcountry permits. staying in line with the rest of his chipper attitude he also informed us that there was a chance of severe thunderstorms that night. he brought up the radar on his computer and showed us the ominous looking mass coming in from the west, and ended the conversation with a dead serious, "we've had surveyors up there in some severe storms and they lived!"

exhausted from the hours and hours of driving, lack of caloric intake and nauseous from the extreme heat we left the station feeling torn, heed the weather warning and head home or take our chances and end this trip on top of texas. we drove around in the sweltering mid-day sun constantly checking the radar for any change in the weather, trying to figure out what to do. it would be a shame to end the trip feeling defeated, but we figured we weren't really prepared to deal with the wild weather that we could encounter at 8749 feet. 

while resting in the shade of an old tree on the side of the road we received a very inspirational email from our pal mike portugal. his words lifted us and gave us the energy and motivation our tired minds and bodies needed. we loaded up our packs and hit the trail.

starting on a trail filled with yucca, tumbleweeds and cacti we climbed towards the peak in the last remaining light of the day and found a place to set up our tent among the pines. 

we awoke early the morning among the clouds, packed up and hit the trail to finish the last mile to the peak. by the time we reached the summit the clouds were below us, almost completely blocking the view of the surrounding mountains below.

standing on the top of the world in the cold morning air, we finished this wild trip on a literal and figurative high note.

nine days, thirty five hundred miles, fourteen national parks and monuments.