For the most part, we had the trail to ourselves. After our stop to chat with Ranger Dawson, we moved on. We are not quiet hikers. We were talking, laughing, and so forth. We stopped here and there to replenish our bodies with water - always out of my pack - and to give the dog a drink and a break.
Along with being a decent tracker, the dog also has enough herding in her bloodlines to make it necessary for her to constantly be checking on us. She would run ahead to a point, turn, come back and make sure everyone was still in line, then head back up to the front. She possesses a very strong need to make sure her ducks are in a row. This was comical to watch, and a little sad if you measure the ground she covered in her random round-ups.
I have a series of photos to show our terrain. It should also show you the elevation change we were making.
The trail in the beginning was easy to maneuver and follow. Wide paths, with only a slight elevation change.
We were hiking mid-day. Not optimum for taking photos outdoors. Well, not for me. I've got a decent camera, but I don't really know how to use it. I had to do some editing before posting these, so please bare with me. The beauty here is the amount of greenery. Luckily, this part of Texas has received some rains in 2014. My Part-Timer informed me that her other visits to this park had been quite barren.
Our hike proceeded to take us upwards at a slow elevation change. (Note the rock slide on the right of the photo.) Of course, this only lasted so long. We made it up the path below relatively easy.
I say this now.
My opinion is only based on what we faced ahead of this point. I will add, my beekeeping has gotten me in better shape than I have given it credit for. I've done a lot of work over the summer. Glad to know it has benefited me in more than one way.
I have a series of action shots showing these two traversing this point on the trail. The part I neglected to capture...the drop off below them. Would have made a much stronger impact on you if you could truly see how dangerous this point was.
We did take breaks here and there. Stopping for water, snacks, to catch our breath, and enjoy the view.
As you can see, we'd come quite far at this point. I'd like to tell you we were at the top in the above photo, but we weren't. I would say we were a little less than halfway up at this point.
Did I mention this trail has an elevation change of 2500 ft.?
The trail became a lot more difficult. It also was a lot harder follow. I say this because we got off the trail shortly after this photo. We were basically climbing a cliff face. Having to lean forward to counter the weight of our packs is not conducive to looking around for markers. We reached a point that seemed quite ridiculous.
Are you sure we're still on the trail?
I kept hearing things like:
I think so.
This looks right.
I can't remember.
This is when I started focusing on the dog. She was still at point, being urged on by her owner. Wanting to obey, she moved onward. I could tell she was getting a little nervous. She seemed unsettled. This is when I called stop. We reached a point where we could get a better look around and realized we could not see any trail markers. While we were looking around, the dog bailed. She started back down the trail, passing both of us. The cliff face was so steep, I just turned and started sliding down on my rear. My Part-Timer, thinking she was above this tactic, started trying to traverse down on her feet above me.
All I heard was a scream or laugh, and then there were rocks coming down all around me. I could hear her behind me, coming down quick. Somehow she managed to put the breaks on before she hit me. She was laughing. I was seeing my life flash before my eyes. Had she hit me, I would have shot off the cliff face like a rocket.
It would not have been pretty.
As she slowed herself, we made our way down. Both of us on our rears at this point. We had to go down about twenty feet before the dog immediately picked up on the correct trail.
She was off, tail wagging and a lot more certain of our direction. After getting our feet back under us, I took this moment to inform my Part-Timer that I would be following the dog from now on.
We were in a pretty steep part of our hike. I do not mind sharing the fact that I was quite winded at this point. Once we reached a level spot, I stopped to check my heart rate on my phone.
I have an app for that.
It was 133.
That can't be right.
I checked it again. It was 129.
Must be right.
My girl checked her's - 97.
This is when I may have cussed every cigar I have ever smoked with the Man in Charge. Yes, I know. Shocking to some of you, but it's true.
(Note the rock slide in the upper left of this photo)
(Note the rock slide in the upper middle of this photo.)
That rock slide was a thing of the past. We had a bit further before we actually reached the top. I got off the trail a little to get this shot for you. To give a little perspective, it was 4:13 pm when I took the photo below. We had started this hike around lunch time.
As exciting as this had been...nothing compared to what happened next!