Merry Christmas from Pearsall, TX, December 15, 2018

Merry Christmas from Pearsall, TX, December 15, 2018
Merry Christmas from Pearsall, TX, December 15, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

Hiking Kickapoo Cavern State Park in Texas - Sunday, March 4, 2018

Day 3 of our three-day Texas Volkssport Association walks...

From Del Rio, Texas, we drove 1/2-hour east to Brackettville, then 1/2-hour north to Kickapoo Cavern State Park. All the way there, we had heavy fog and drizzle. Today's hiking temperature did not seem in danger of exceeding 70 degrees!

We signed in for the walk just a little before 9:00 a.m. The walk we decided to do is an 11k, not a 10k like I had mentioned yesterday. 

We started by walking quite a way on a paved park road (I'm guessing approximately 3/4 mile). We were starting to think we had missed trail. Then, in the distance, we saw a trail sign for Barbado Ridge Trail, the one we wanted to take. Yes, we're hiking up to a ridge. 
Susan with her signature umbrella
A misty rain had been with us on and off since we headed out. Susan used her umbrella, but I had on a waterproof hat and a windbreaker which seemed to work fine. I did not get wet. 

The trail to the top of the ridge zig-zagged a little, then steadily climbed to the top. Footing was sometimes precarious on sharp rocks. Thankfully, we had our hiking poles with us; although sometimes the tips snagged between the rocks.

You'll see from the photos that we are in Texas Hill Country (at the southwestern edge of it). All of the photos show the low-hanging clouds that were with us for the whole walk. A misty rain accompanied us all the way up and over the ridge. I took off my jacket because I was getting too warm and sweaty from the humidity.

Topography at Kickapoo Cavern State Park
Misty morning for a walk
Cacti color in the Texas scrub!
The next two photos show what parts of the trail looked like. We had to be very careful on these rocks! A unique feature of some of the rocks was embedded chert. [Note: See the sign explaining this further down in the blog.]

Our trail

More trail
Another view from the ridge. 
At the top of the ridge, we scared up a Montezuma quail, but it flew away before I could get my camera in position. On the way down from the ridge, we met a couple of guys coming up from the other direction. They reported a mother "pig" (probably a javelina, or wild pig) and some babies down in the wash. The pigs, they said, were not aggressive. Thankfully, we did not see them because javelinas can be quite mean.

As we hiked, another walker (Randy) from our club caught up with us. We all walked together the remaining distance. When we came to the end of Barbado Ridge Trail in 2.4 miles, we turned right on The Long Way Home Trail. 

Saying good-bye to the Barbado Ridge Trail
We headed down the other side of the ridge on a gravel jeep road which crossed washes a number of times. We were thankful once again, this time because it was a misty rain falling, not a gullywasher that would sweep through these canyons.
Dry washes we crossed (no javelinas!)
Crossing a wash and the jeep road going up the hill
The Long Way Home Trail returned us to the park road and from there it was a short distance back to the finish table.

Me and Randy where the trailhead met the road
Back at the finish table, Clay was checking in some walkers. We got our books stamped and spent a little time exploring the small visitor center and reading the park signs.
Clay (on the right) checking in walkers

Because of the caves, you may wonder if there are bats living here. Why, yes, there are from about March to October. It's hard to read the sign below. It says:
The park lies in a karst landscape where limestone caves abound. From an observation deck, peer into Stuart Bat Cave, the seasonal home of about one million Mexican free-tailed bats and hundreds of cave swallows. (Stuart Bat Cave is a protected habitat, so the cave is closed year round. There is bat flight viewing from March to October.)
You are able to tour Kickapoo Cavern where you can see the largest natural column formation in the state. Kickapoo Cavern can only be toured with a guide. At this time of year, they only offered one tour a week at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Our walk was on a Sunday, so we couldn't tour the cave. if you're planning to go, be sure to check the park bulletin boards or check with park staff for Kickapoo Cavern Tour schedule.

What to look for in the park
 The following interpretive sign shows what the embedded chert looks like. 

Driving to Kickapoo Cavern State Park, I saw the Triple T Ranch display: three large Ts with lawnmowers sitting on rocks under the Ts. It's quite weird as ranch signs go.

After doing an 11k walk (6.82 miles), Susan and I were hungry. There were no restaurants until we got to Brackettville. One of the people in our walk group told us about a very good burger restaurant in Brackettville. We Google'd it and found Brackett Burger and Shake. We had an excellent lunch there.

From Brackettville, we made a beeline for Susan's house where I retrieved my car and headed from home. It was a good weekend. 

Travel Bug out.

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