Postcard From Enchanted Rock

Leaving the Dairy Queen Princess behind, I set my sights on Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. What better way to celebrate the 4-month anniversary of my return from death than to climb Enchanted Rock? Enchanted Rock is one huge pink granite rock (actually, it is part of a rough, segmented ridge which is in turn part of the surface expression of a large igneous batholith of middle Precambrian material intrusive into earlier metamorphic schists and gneiss - for those who care) which rises 385 feet above the ground. It's the largest single granite rock in the U.S., is the geologic center of Texas, and is visible for miles around.

Apache, Comanche and Tonkawa Indians all believed ghost fires flickered at the top and revered it as a holy portal to other worlds. They also believed the area is haunted by a native American princess who threw herself off the rock after witnessing the slaughter of her people by an enemy tribe. A conquistador captured by the Tonkawa Indians described how he escaped by losing himself in the rock area, giving rise to an Indian legend of a "pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own." The Indians believed he wove enchantments on the area, but he explained that the rock wove the spells. "When I was swallowed by the rock, I joined the many spirits who enchant this place."

Rising almost 400 feet in 0.6 miles, the climb up wasn't a killer, but it wasn't the easiest hike I've ever been on. The kids going up didn't have to stop to rest like us older folks, but they didn't run up it either. The sun was out in force and the temp was over 90 degrees so that made it a bit more challenging. After several rest stops, I finally made it to the top. The view was wonderful and it felt great knowing I've recovered enough to make that climb. I'm sure it was just an interesting activity for most, but for me, it was an affirmation of life. I'd be lying though if I said I didn't have some concerns on my way up. I was by myself and had this fear of having another heart attack and just rolling all the way down that big sucker while all these people stopped climbing to watch and pointing their fingers at the poor fool rolling ass over tea kettle. Probably not very rational and I knew that , but the fear was there still.

After some time at the top enjoying the view, I carefully made my way back down. It was a lot easier. About 3/4 of the way down, I spotted a man who looked to be a visitor from India with 2 children sitting on an outcropping in some shade. The reason I noticed him was because he had looked around (but not behind him where I was) and then sneaky-like threw an empty juice carton behind the rock they were sitting on. I kept my eye on him and as I came alongside, they started to walk away. I had noticed the whole park had very little litter around and it made me proud of my fellow humans - until this litter-bug bozo. It upset me so I asked him if he was just going to leave that juice box he threw on the ground or take it out with him to a trash can. He looked startled, but then replied in a heavy accent "Yeah, yeah, I take it," but didn't make a move to retrieve it. So I just stood there looking at him. "I take it," he said again, but still made no move to pick it up. I raised my camera, took his picture and continued to stand there. He finally turned around and got the offending trash so I left. I looked back once a few feet on down the trail and he still had it in his hand so I assume he did indeed pack it out, but I can't be sure because I didn't look back again.
After making my way back to the truck and removing several cactus thorns I somehow had picked up on my ankle (like a good Boy Scout, I had tweezers in my overnight kit), I was hot, sweaty, and tired. I was ready for a shower and a nap. A few miles down the road past Fredericksburg and I pulled into Kerrville and checked into the Hampton Inn. Last year, I stayed at a Hilton a lot when I was traveling to my client's site for work so I'm some color or other on Hilton Honors and to my surprise, the desk lady asked me if I would like a free room upgrade. Free? Oh heck yeah, I'll take an upgrade for free! Well, the upgrade meant I got a couch in my room and it was a bit bigger than the room the non-hooty hoots get so it wasn't like I got the Presidential Suite or something, but hey, the price was right. The shower felt great, the shampoo was good, and the air conditioner made the room downright chilly. I heard the bed calling me. And for the next 55 minutes, I communed with it. Mark it on the calendar - on this day, a wonderful nap occurred.
 (Please click here for the first entry in this series.)