The itinerary

by Andrea Elizabeth

Friday morning. Wake up at 6am to leave at 6:30, or more likely 7 am.

Head south on 51 to Granbury where we stop at a McDonalds for meatless Egg McMuffins. We haven’t completely cut out dairy yet during Lent.

Take 377 southwest through Stephenville to Comanche where the first early bluebonnets are sighted.

Turn south on 16 to Goldthwait. At the park where we’ve taken time lapsed pictures of the kids in different stages of development perched on the same leaning tree, turn southeast on 183 to Lometa where you take 580 west.

Now you’re on smaller, river bottom roads with bigger trees and greener fields. Take 581 southwest to Colorado Bend State Park.

11am. There is no ranger station at the entrance. Just a dusty white rock road. Fortunately I knew I was looking for the 2 mile Gorman Falls trail. I missed it first go round however. Instead I drove without gps coverage for I don’t know how long, till we crested a tall hill with a beautiful view and coverage, and the map said we were almost at the park’s other end. So I turned around and drove all the way back because I knew the Falls trail was close to the north end. And it was. We turned toward the trail and find a pretty populated parking lot where I don the water bottle and dog bowl laden back pack. I am confused about how I am to buy a state park pass where you can go to any state park in Texas within a year for the price it would take the three adults in my car to go to 4 parks, which we planned on doing this trip alone. Then a ranger comes up with a clipboard and tells me that they have an honor box at the gate. I said I wanted to get a pass, and he said that I can go ahead and hike the Gorman Falls trail and get a pass afterward. I asked where could I do that, and he said at the other end of the park. The end that I had almost just come to down that very long dusty, rocky, slidey road.

At the trail entrance the dogs got their first request to pet from two cute little siblings who had their own taller, white, newly clipped dog. The dogs cheerfully obliged, then set their noses toward adventure. We slowly ascended the smooth rock mixed with packed dirt trail that was a little springy from the recent God-sent rains, but not enough to muddy the shoes or paws. The gentle slope and breeze was quite pleasant. There were numerous cactus, mesquite and oak trees, with occasional little yellow and purple flowers. The trail curved just enough to keep the vista changing where you could see various other hills around the Colorado River valley.

Then we started the somewhat steeper slope down. It was even steeper on the return trip. Pippen, the 9yo dog, thought it was so much steeper on the way back that his little hind legs began to get a wobbly toward the top, so Ben decided to carry him part way. Anyway, the final part of the trail had much larger rocks that Pippin negotiated in his own determined, methodical, surveyed and planned out way. 3yo Merry took more direct routes as she is very springy and agile.

We finally got to Gorman Falls which empty from the top of a hill, down into the impressively wide Colorado River. The trail didn’t give us a view of where the water was coming from. A spring or creek? (this is the park website pic. I have a nice one, but it’s not on this computer.) This is not a very characteristic view in Texas, but we’re in the Highland Lakes part of the Hill Country, which adds green to rugged.

We get back to the car pretty spent at 1pm. The dogs immediately fall asleep. Pippin on the floor in the back seat, which is as far as he can climb at this point. And Merry in Rachel’s lap, on her pillow. Anything for her baby.

And I drive the 6 miles back down that gravelly, white dust road. To the view, then down a paved portion that twists to the crowded campsights right along the river. The other side of the river is privately owned and is lined with very tall, craggy, dark gray cliffs with even taller hills behind them. Quite surprising. I wonder if that’s why it’s called the Colorado River. The park ranger that I spoke to before is in the little station, but my turn in line took me to the lady ranger who issued my pass to me. All I have to do is show my card and my driver’s license in any park and I’m in.

George just got home from his marathon weekend at work, so I’ll continue later.

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