Sunday morning, day three of our Volksmarch weekend, and we are up with the birds and coyotes. We were given the gate code to enter the state park early. We drove up, put in the code, and drove through. The car behind us made it through too. Our goal: to do as much of our hike as possible before the mountain bike racers came through and to do it in the coolest part of the day.
Driving up to the state park, we had a dramatic sunrise.
Down in the canyon, we had to wait for the people manning the checkpoint to get in position. While we waited, we read the sign at the start of the trail stating the trial is 6 miles round-trip, carry one gallon of water per person on a hot day.
We were able to start walking at 8:15 am. The temperature was cool and we were in shade most of the way out on our out-and-back walk. The scenery was spectacular, especially with the sun coming up in the canyon.
Red, layered with white, grey, ochre and light green demonstrated the effects of eons of mostly water erosion. The oldest layers of rock in the canyon, Cloud Chief Gypsum, can't be seen in the Capitol Peak area, but can be seen in a few areas. Here at Capitol Peak, the lower Quartermaster and upper Tecovas formations are exposed. Quartermaster comprises red claystone/sandstone and white layers of gypsum. While above the Quartermaster, the Tecovas Formation is composed of yellow, gray and lavender mudstone and sandstone.
|Capitol Peak and a hoodoo on the left|
|Capitol Peak with the hoodoo on the left|
Combination of the Tecovas Formation with the Quartermaster produces triangular Spanish Skirts. See below. Fascinating geology on this walk today.
As we walked the coyotes were yipping and yapping nearby. Meanwhile, my dogs were barking. After walking 12.4 miles yesterday, my blisters felt just like balloons and I spent most of this 6.2 miles limping. Definitely not at the top of my walking game. I was wearing the same hiking boots I wore yesterday, so all my owies were again getting rubbed the wrong way.
On the other hand, the formations drew my attention away from my feet as I gazed in wonder at what was around me. Below is the Lighthouse Formation for which this trail is named.
|The Lighthouse in early morning light|
|Quartermaster Formation: sandstone/claystone with gypsum|
|Together at last. |
We only had three mountain bikes pass us on the way out to the checkpoint. On the return trip, however, the mountain bike race was in full swing. They were flying down the trail. It was actually quite scary to be on the same trail with them. Many spots weren't very wide. Thankfully the bikers were going uphill in some of those areas so they couldn't go very fast. The sides of the trail had cacti with big spikes, so we couldn't step to the side very easily. On the downhills, the bikers were racing hard and flew around the corners. We did our best to stay out of their way.
From the Lighthouse Trail, we had a great view of our nemesis from yesterday, Fortress Cliff. Yes, we hiked from the canyon floor to the top of the cliff, traversed back and forth across the top, before we headed "down." Fortress Cliff showcases sandstone of the Trujillos Formation and the Ogallala Formation tops it off. The Ogallala is composed of sand, silt, clay, and limestone, which compose the hard caprock. [NOTE: The layers from top to bottom are: Cloud Chief Gypsum, Ogallala, Trujillos, Tecovas, Quartermaster, shale.] Fortress Cliff is shown in the photo below.
|Fortress Cliff, yesterday's nemesis|
When we returned to the truck, the outdoor thermometer read 90 degrees! As soon as we got into the truck, I took off my hiking boots and socks, then changed into clean, dry socks and comfortable walking shoes. We made our way back to Amarillo, hooked up the 5th wheel, and headed out for San Angelo, Texas.
Once again we drove through areas of cotton fields, wind farms and oil rigs. We made a quick stop for a photo of cotton. Thanks, Bob, for snapping this photo.
|Cotton on the plant|
After six hours of driving, we arrived at San Angelo State Park. Our water/electric pull-through site was $20. It was also time for us to renew our annual Texas State Park pass, so we paid $70 for that as well.
After we unhooked the Beast and set up Rigamarole, our day ended with this beautiful sunset.
Tomorrow...searching for Monarch butterflies at San Angelo State Park.