Aaaaand, I'm Back

pic-0047 As prophesied in the post below, I loaded up the Expedition with some gear, firewood and food early Wednesday morning and pointed it south. My destination was a cabin in the Texas Hill Country about an hour west of San Antonio. Right about here: View Larger Map

This was my second annual beginning-of-the-year-wilderness-retreat-and-media-fast. The media fast part began as soon as I started my seven-and-a-half hour drive. No radio. No CDs. Just silence, my own thoughts, and my own voice in prayer or song. I’ve found that I spend the first 24 hours of these trips just going through withdrawal from being in a constant media/information cocoon.

That’s my cabin in the pic above. Not quite as spartan as my stone hut on the edge of Palo Duro Canyon but definitely “no frills.” I loved it. The weather was quite cold so I kept a big fire going every evening.


On my first full day I hiked nearby Garner State Park. The Frio River runs through the park and, being the product of spring-fed creeks throughout the surrounding hills, is crystal clear. I mean freakishly clear. The trails at Garner present a lot of steep climbs up rocky terrain. But when you get to the top, you are rewarded with views like this:


And this:


I understand this park is super crowded in the summer, but given the cold temps on this day, I only saw one other group of hikers. The same was true the next day when I drove to Lost Maples Natural Area–a gorgeous park named for the stand of Bigtooth Maples there. (Bigtooth maples aren’t supposed to be in Texas but these old men are believed to be a relics from the last ice age tucked away in a unique microclimate.) I saw one other human being all day.

Along the trail I came across several dripping springs which, given the temps, were creating icicles:



When I came across the spring above, I promptly dumped out both of my water bottles and refilled them from the spring. If you’ve never had natural spring water right out of the rock, there is no purer, sweeter water on earth.

This trip was rich and wonderful and soul-nourishing and spirit-strengthening in every way. Each night for entertainment I pulled up a chair by my fire and watched the dance of embers, sparks and flame. Occasionally I’d walk away and enjoy a different show under a clear, black, star-strewn sky–until the cold would send me back to the embrace of the fire.

Yes, I had hoped for better hiking weather, but then one of the points of all this is to leave comfort behind. Mission accomplished, I think: