This trip to Enchanted Rock I planned exclusively to catch a sunrise from the Mountain. I timed my drive perfectly as I arrived just as the eastern sky was beginning to lighten. And………. the gate was closed! Oh No! I had arrived here right before sunset a few months ago and got right in. But it was in the fall when the sun rises earlier due to the time change. The park wasn’t opening for another 20 minutes so I started out the road looking for a spot to catch the Sunrise from the there somehow.
“There’s never one sunrise the same or one sunset the same”.Carlos Sa
When the gate automatically opened at 6:30 am I went in and found a parking space based on my planned hike. This is important. Last summer at Lost Maples I missed a turn, added 2.5 miles to an already 10 mile hike, ran out of water, and stupid me, I parked at the far end of a parking lot that was about a half mile long. Thought I was going to die having to walk on that hot asphalt, no water, tired legs…. I put that one in the book to not do something that stupid again!
I was the second person to reach the top of Enchanted Rock this morning. I would have been first except I was creating a switchback trail up the mountain while some younger guy just walked straight up.
Enchanted Rock rises about 450 feet in less than a mile so the walk up is quite steep. It doesn’t look all that impressive at first but the thing is somewhat terraced so when you think you have reached the top, argh! it is a false peak so you just have to keep going up.
This day I climbed the rock looking for the cave. Didn’t find it but later found I had walked in some famous footsteps. Ah that must mean story time, right? It is.
There was another famous Texas Ranger besides Sam Walker, ( I know I Know the T V Show) his name was John Coffee Hays. In the 1840’s while running a survey crew, (this was Hays first occupation), surveying the line between Llano and Gillespie Counties the crew came to the huge pink dome.
This mountain was sacred to the Comanche, Apache and Tonkawa Indians. As the Anglos entered the area the Indians used the tiered surface to hide and watch the surveyors while not being seen. Well seeing John Coffee Hays begin to ascend the mountain with surveying gear was more than they could stand. A group of about twenty Comanche warriors chased Hays up the mountain where he was able to hide among the rocks and because he was carrying the new Colt Paterson Revolver, he was able to inflict damage against the Indian party until his comrades came to his aid forcing the Indians to eventually retreat. Fact or Legend? Who knows, but it is a part of Texas Ranger history.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area lies on and around five well defined peaks. Enchanted Rock (1825FT), Turkey Peak (1680),Little Rock (1740 ft), Freshman Mountain (1630 Ft) and Buzzards Roost (1580Ft). Echo Canyon is located between Little Rock and Enchanted Rock and Turkey Pass is between Turkey Peak and Freshman Mountain and Enchanted Rock. On top of Enchanted Rock are what are known as weathering pools or vernal pools. These moist areas allow for some vegetation to grow on the bare rock. And because people want to walk through them and even use them as a restroom, the vernal pools are endangered and are the life giving moisture on the 640 acre mountain.
On the summit I talked to the younger guy awhile. He was from the Dallas area and had been travelling the state for the weekend. He thought he was on the exact summit but as designated by the geo plaque I found it about twenty yards behind him. So sorry dude that means I got here first! After spending time on the summit I descended towards the trail leading into Echo Canyon. But instead of hiking through Echo Canyon I turned back towards the parking lot because Echo Canyon would have cut a couple miles off my planned hike. I found a social trail that took me down through a boulder field.
To do the hike I had planned I had to walk through the campground to the Loop Trail. This one takes you around the boundary of the park. I had never done the Loop Trail in this clockwise direction. Now I know why. The first mile and a half was a gradual and constant uphill. Not difficult but tiring after a while. This section has numerous unique rock formations.
I took the Walnut Springs Loop through the primitive camp. There were a couple of good sites but most lacked shade. I then continued on the Loop Trail to the Echo Canyon Trail. In a short distance I turned on the Base Trail. This took me to the spot I was planning for lunch.
After resting and eating I continued on. I passed by the climbing wall of Enchanted Rock and watched the climbers getting their gear ready for the ascent.
I soon reached the Turkey Pass Trail and turned between Freshman Mountain and Enchanted Rock.
I walked up and over Turkey Pass and back to the main trailhead on the Frontside Trail.
Up the steps and the hike is finished.
I still haven’t found that cave everyone keeps talking about……..
Oh…I almost forgot. I bet you are wondering why is this the lizard trip. Well I must of seen about twenty -five or thirty of these lizards today!