Itinerary two

by Andrea Elizabeth

Continued from here. Friday, 1pm. We head back north out of the park the six miles on white dust road as that is the only way to get out. Then back to 580, but stay on it, with its more mature bluebonnets and a full field of lavender cloud flowers in Nix, to Lampasas and the dog-friendly Sonic. The car hop even has free dog treats.

Once refreshed, we head south on the uneventful 281. Maybe one little patch of bluebonnets. But when we turn west on 29 in Burnet, the Texas highway commission must have gone all out and planted them all along that gorgeous road through more dramatic hills. This is the heart of the Highland Lakes. After 11 such miles, we turn south on Park Rd 4 which is narrower and twistier, with just as many bluebonnets.

3pm. Next stop, Inks Lake State Park where I brandish my new pass. The lady asks how many adults and children in the car, just for the record, I suppose, as the whole car-full is free. She gives me a map and tells me that the best day trip area is Devil’s Waterhole. So we head that way, park by the lake, and commence down the trail towards the end of the lake where it gets more rocky on the other side. There’s another trail to the right up some pink granite with rainbow streaks that looks like a mini version of Enchanted Rock, not that far away. I’m surprised the kids are up for it, and so are the dogs. I let them traipse on ahead which turns out to be a good idea. From the top you can see a creek going towards the lake through the rocks and further down, a mini waterfall. (here’s a pretty picture) I keep Rebecca and Pippin at the top with me, and he happily sits down and watches the older two and Merry go down and over to the waterfall. Then Rebecca, Pippin, Merry and I decide to go back to the camp area and let the 21 and 17yo’s keep going up stream, where I think they saw a bridge.

Our feet are starting to get sore, so we do not have many ambitions for our next park only a few miles south down the same park rd 4, Longhorn Caverns State Park. You actually don’t need a ticket for this park unless you take the cave tour. With the dogs not being allowed and us being tired, we opted out of that, but were allowed to go down the 55 steps to the mouth of the cave where it is a constant cool temperature. We also went up the lookout tower to see the area lakes and huge castle built on one of the hills on the horizon. They also have a very tree’d trail that we saw the first little section of before heading out and calling it a day.

Saturday, 6am. Rise and shine. If you don’t get to Enchanted Rock before they open at 8am on busy days like weekends and holidays, you can’t be guaranteed to be let in. They close when the parking lot is full. After another pretty drive on 71 after 281 (where we had a car wash to take care of all the white dust), with the dawn breaking on a densely dark overcast sky and the most bluebonnets yet as the hilly roadside had more room than the ones on 29 and 4, headed south on 16, took the park road and arrived at Enchanted Rock at 8:15. There was already a line of people out the door which hadn’t opened yet. There were two opening times on the bulletin board, 8am and 8:30 am. They abide by the latter. We finally start our hike at 9am. I’m worried that Pippin may be too sore from yesterday to make the steep ascent on the stepless granite dome, but he’s actually in his element. With the weather keeping him cool (his fur coat is much thicker than Merry’s) he pulls me up the textured side. I suppose his lower center of gravity and not having to jump up steps makes the steep ascent perfect for his short little legs. We need breaks at the same time, during which I turn around on the side of the dome and watch the growing car line out the park and down the road in both directions. Enchanted Rock rises 500 feet above the surrounding country side and you can see for miles in all directions from the always windy top. He and I stay up there and watch the 3 kids and Merry go down the other side a little ways to where a fissure has developed and trapped some of the exfoliating layers to make a rock climbing and cave area. I wave at Ben when he gets on one of the rocks with Merry and hear someone behind me say, “look they have another Corgi over there.” There were lots of comments about them during this trip. “I like the bigger one better.” “Are they related?” “Look at their legs!” “Can I pet them?” (many times) “Do they like crowds?” said the Boyscout Leader as he led his large troop down a narrow path which we pulled over for to let pass. “If you oo and ah over them” I said. “Ooo! Ah!” he said as he petted them both. A few of the boys followed suit as the dogs got as close to them as their leashes would allow.

We chose a different way down the side to go back to the car. This led us to a very rocky trail where Pippin and Merry had to be carried over 4 foot pink granite boulders in disarray. An in shape middle aged lady who had commented (as she passed) on the way up about how hard it might be for Pippin to go up, came up behind us with her husband and said, “if they can do it, I can”. At one really difficult point the husband asked if he could help me. I said, “can you carry the dog?” Ben had the much heavier Pippin and I had little Merry. So he took her from me and down a few of the boulders, and then handed her to his wife, who deposited her at the bottom of that section with Ben and Pippin. Behind me, Rachel helped Rebecca find her way down. It was funny to see strangers carrying cuddly Merry down the rocks.

We were back to our car around 11, and took beautiful 29 back to Burnet then up 281 and such back home in time for Vigil.

Now I want to take George, but the bluebonnets will be gone before he even gets a single day off.

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