David Johnson's Travel Blog
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07/27  3250 Miles
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Enchanted Rock and Old Tunnel

2014-06-11

tl;dr: I sort of visited Enchanted Rock and ended the day at Old Tunnel State Park to watch bats.

From Llano I made my way to Enchanted Rock State Wilderness Area. There is a $7 entrance fee, but because I had no intention of hiking, had already seen much of the rock from the road, am cheap, and, besides, I've seen plenty of rocks before, I simply ate lunch at a picnic table, topped off my water and left.

Fredericksburg is an amazingly touristy city with a tourist strip over a mile long. I didn't stop.

So this is what low humidity feels like? Every time I came to a flowing creek (which was often), I would stop and soak my shirt. By the time I arrived at the next creek, the shirt would be dry.

There was a sign clearly indicating that my chosen road was closed, but I ignored it (as I do). When I finally made it to the bridge construction and asked a guy if I could sneak through, he said, "That bridge is gone. The water is eleven feet deep, and it's crowded with snakes! I've never seen so many snakes!" So I returned to the detour.

In typically poor judgment I drank almost a liter of chocolate milk at a gas station. That slowed me down as I climbed my way up to Old Tunnel State Park.

While peddling, I spied a herd of axis deer in some woods, but I assumed I was seeing whitetail fawns. Then a dozen axis deer crossed the road right in front of me. It turns out that axis deer and sitka deer and blackbuck antelope have little respect for fences, high or otherwise. A few years ago massive flooding made short work of many of these fences, anyway. Now these exotic critters are feral and thriving and can be shot on site at any time.

Old Tunnel State Park is a state park built around an old train tunnel that now houses some million Mexican free-tailed bats. The bats pour out of the tunnel to great affect if you are more lucky than me and arrive on a night where they launch before twilight.

As I sat with the crowd of touristy bat watchers, I could see the bats, but no pictures turned out. Oh well. Interestingly, some folks had (very) good binoculars, and the bats were very visible through those.

Though the park does not allow camping, it was hinted that nobody would be investigating the park once everybody left, which happened quickly, because apparently bats don't hold the attention that a mile of tourist shops does.

The park is the highest point in several counties, so there was a good wind blowing away mosquitoes. I decided to just sleep under a picnic table shelter at the edge of the lookout where the breeze could hit me all night long.

Today I drank eight-and-a-half liters, although some of that was soda and chocolate milk. It seems I can expect to drink a liter every eight miles if I "pre-hydrate" by guzzling as much water as I can hold when I find a water source. It pains me that I'm mixing metric and imperial.

Sandy Creek


loose livestock


flowers


toward Enchanted Rock


rocks


Enchanted Rock State Natural Area


looking back upon Enchanted Rock


climbing


blackbuck antelope


elk


Frontier Outpost


turkeys


more catfish heads


emu


Old Tunnel State Park


waiting for the bats


if you look really close, you still won't see bats, but they are there

contact me at le@liverworks.com
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