18 June 2011--Cathy, Hallie, Donna and I headed up to Enchanted Rock this morning, a Texas State Park about a 2 hour drive northwest of San Antonio. Knowing it was going to be very hot today, we headed out at 7:30 AM to get a jump on the day. The Rock is in what is called the Texas Hill Country, and is a pretty barren area as we shall see.
Here we are, still looking quite fresh, as we start out.
From the base of the Rock, the summit is 450 ft straight up in the span of .6 miles...we were glad we had left so early as it was not too hot yet. It took us about 45 minutes to make the climb. There are actually 2 "rocks" in this area, one called Enchanted Rock and directly beside it is what is called Little Rock. We only climbed Enchanted Rock, but "Little Rock" will come into play later.
At the top it was incredibly windy, but that kept us from feeling the heat that was moving in on us.
Still looking fresh as we descend.
Now here is where it first starts getting tricky (haha)! We didn't come down the same way we went up, so at one point Cathy and Hallie split up to see which way the path down was. Hallie called out that she had found the path (we should have known better), so we all went over to where she had been. Do those rocks Donna and I are looking down at in the 3rd pic look like a path to anyone except Hallie???
The climb over the rocks was so steep that my pedometer popped off my shorts and fell in a rock crevice...Those butts are mine, Cathy's and Donna's as we search between the boulders for it.
We continue the climb down Hallie's "path". You actually have to blow up the 1st pic to see me and Donna up in the rocks.
Donna and I finish the climb down.
Once we got back to the bottom, we had a quick something to eat, grabbed more water, and headed out to hike the trail around Enchanted Rock. It was now probably "high noon" and getting steadily hotter, but we were still feeling strong, so off we went. From our map we knew the Loop Trail was 4 miles, so we didn't know how far we would go, but we were confident as we started off.
Enchanted rock is granite, and this pic shows how granite sheds large chunks of itself, like sheets of rock, as it falls.
At this point we have hiked about a mile, mostly up a slow-rising hill, and we are recognizing that it is hot as heck. There was barely a breath of air and we were also fairly low on water, so we are trying to decide whether to retrace our steps down the hill, or to cut through the 2 rocks. If you blow up this map, you can see how Enchanted Rock is on the right, while Little Rock is on the left, with the Echo Canyon Trail cutting between the two of them. We thought the Echo Canyon Trail was maybe the shorter path back to the parking lot, but that was a big mistake.
Donna and I were still good to go at this point, but it was only minutes after "the decision" that Hallie started to feel a little queasy. Although I don't have any more pics of what turned out to be about the next hour, we were basically facing another "Hallie path" situation, only this time straight up!!! As you can see in the 4th pic, there wasn't an ounce of shade to be had as we made the climb, and we were only in there about 5 minutes before we were completely out of water.
About half way up our Echo Canyon trek, we weren't sure if Hallie was going to make it. She had to keep sitting down as she was feeling light-headed and miserable. No matter where we looked we couldn't see any shade, so Donna, followed about 10 minutes later by Cathy, went on ahead of Hallie and I to see how much further we had to go and to hopefully get some water. These 2 young girls, Stephanie and Marissa, came to our aid in the meantime and gave Hallie a Gummie Worm (for the sugar) and a bottle of water that they had frozen the night before. It was mostly a bottle of ice, but what little water there was in the bottle was greatly appreciated.
I think at least a half hour had passed since Donna and Cathy had left, and Hallie and I are almost at the top of the trail, but this is where it was really touch and go there for about 10 minutes. I found a tree that actually provided some shade and told Hallie to get under it. She was breathing fast and shallow and was very agitated at this point. She plopped down and then laid down in her effort to recover.
Fortunately it wasn't that long before Lucas and Janiece came by, offering us water and an orange for Hallie. That orange just may have saved Hallie's life!!!
Here Hallie emerges from beneath the tree, ready to go again. Lucas told us we had about another 20 minutes to the bottom...ugh!
We weren't 5 minutes from the tree when Maurice, a Park Ranger summoned by Cathy and Donna, came to our final rescue...he was carrying 4 bottles of water for us. Cathy was right behind him...what a trooper! He stayed with us the rest of the way down the hill and safely saw us to our car. Maurice told us that on average they have to "rescue" people like us a couple times a week, and have to conduct helicopter rescues on average once a month for people who have fallen and broken something.
What a day! I guess we have to start conceding something to our aging bodies, and after a day like today we won't be so dumb anytime soon. From start to finish we were out there for 4 1/2 hours...when we got back to the car the thermometer said 103 degrees!!!