Saturday, September 6, 2014

Number 44: Colorado Bend State Park

Colorado Bend State Park is one of four Texas State Parks that boast waterfalls; McKinney Falls, Pedernales Falls, and Big Bend are the others.  So, needless to say, upon arrival Breck and I headed straight for the Gorman Falls Trail to check out this park's offering.

I was excited when we arrived and there were only 4 other cars in the parking lot.  Though we often hike and never see another soul on the trails, I was not expecting such an experience at Colorado Bend.  Summers in Texas mean people flock to water, especially on a holiday like Labor Day.

My excitement faded quickly as we readied to head down the trail to Gorman Falls when four cars came screaming up the caliche rock road kicking up dust.  No less than 20 people spilled out making a racket only created by exuberant tweens.  We took advantage of their bathroom break (only one unisex facility at the trail head) to get a head start and quickly made our way down the trail.  Our desire for peace and quiet meant sacrificing most photo ops on the way.

The trail was dry and dusty with little shade, but once at the falls the landscape was covered in moss and fern.

Remember those 4 cars that were in the parking lot?  Trying to get shots of the falls without those drivers and passengers was tricky.  That and trying to balance on mossy rocks to get my photos made things interesting. The lack of rain in the area also made for a lackluster falls display.  Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful, but not the 300 gallons a minute I was expecting.

The signs also made things confusing.  Several postings warned of fines if you crossed into areas that were not clearly defined and protected.  Though many people were climbing on the rocks under the falls, I didn't feel comfortable crossing those lines to get closer more scenic shots.  I wish the signs had been more clear.

I felt a little disappointed after seeing stunning photos of the falls online, but not comfortable with getting where I needed to be to get those photos myself.

I took a lot more pictures, but they just didn't do the spot justice, lacking the details that can only be appreciated by being there.

After the arduous hike back up the rocky trail in temperatures that had risen during our time in the shade at the falls, we headed to another part of the park to do a little more hiking on much flatter ground.

The Ranger told us about a swimming hole down the Spicewood Springs Trail.  It was only a short walk from the parking area along the river.

The trail cuts away from the river and into the woods.

Just over the hill we found the swimming hole formed by rocks that pool the running spring's water into a deep hole.

We had the place to ourselves.  Breck went swimming in water well over his head and I took off my shoes and lounged on the edge with my feet in the water.  It was shady, cool, and peaceful.

 About the same time I began considering retrieving my camera from the bench I had put it on, we heard voices, and giggles, and a lot of glee.  Quickly our private oasis turned into a mothers-day-out program with joyful children excited about the prospect of  swimming in the spring water pool and climbing in the small falls.  It was our cue to go.  However, it also meant I missed the opportunity to photograph the beautiful spot.  I guess we will just have to go back someday and try again.

With so many diverse miles of trails to explore, I am sure I will have another opportunity.