Saturday, February 26, 2011

Return to Enchanted Rock

We returned to this area yesterday to climb the massive rock. Enchanted Rock is supposed to be the second largest granite formation in the country. We are not sure where the largest is located, John thinks that it is Stone Mountain in Georgia. For whatever reason, John wanted to return to this park by way of the road we took when we got lost leaving there last week. He had a feeling it would be quite scenic. He was correct. As soon as we turned on this road we started climbing and soon found ourselves driving on a ridge overlooking a valley. That was the first of  several beautiful vistas overlooking the hill country.
John said the scenery on this road reminded him of some old western movies, with cowboys riding down canyons and shooting at  the bad guys hiding behind the tall rocks. Strangely enough, just before entering the park, we saw a historical marked which noted that the Texas Rangers fought the Comanches on Enchanted Rock in 1841. Fortunately the German immigrants eventually signed a treaty with them and then coexisted peacefully with the Native Indians. We hiked up Enchanted Rock and then took a loop trail around its base. A science class of middle-school children were there at the same time from Austin. Their teacher told us that the class has to get 40% of its learning outside. I think that I would have learned a lot more in science had that been the way I was taught growing up!
Rock weathering and erosion are natural sculpting processes which produce the large boulders seen in the picture above. And fractures in the rock provide shady, moist environments for such plants as cacti, yuccas and grasses. We saw several of those little ponds while hiking around the top of the domed rock.
At the base of the rock we did some rock scrambling while hiking through Echo Canyon. It all was very enjoyable, despite the sun being out in its full glory. It will not be much longer when the best time to be hiking here will be early morning or late afternoon.

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