We arrived in San Antonio, Texas on February 23, the first day of the historic Battle of the Alamo that took place in 1836. It was also the first day of the annual commemoration honoring the battle. A sea of chairs were set up on the front plaza, filled with history buffs who listened to speakers commemorate the famous battle. I’ll leave you to do your own research regarding the winners and losers of the battle.
The following day we left the city behind and found a place to stretch our legs and enjoy a quiet picnic lunch. The 12,000-acre Government Canyon State Natural Area fit the bill. With 40 miles of trails, we chose a combination that took up and around on a loop through changing vegetation. We even found a bench with a bit of a view for our lunch.
One of the benefits of traveling this time of year has been the ability to reserve and enjoy a variety of state parks in multiple states…without the crowds of high season. We pulled into Bastrop State Park, southeast of Austin, Texas for a three-night stay, and were pleased to see that the forest was making a recovery after a devastating fire in 2011.
As with so many state parks, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided the manpower in the 1930s, constructing much of what remains today. Because of their craftsmanship and landscape work, the park was awarded National Historical Landmark status in 1997.
What a surprise today’s outing was. Our effort to outrun the high winds across New Mexico allowed us an extra day in the Texas Panhandle. The state park at Palo Duro Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, awaited. At roughly 120 miles long and with an average width of 6 miles, it is the second-largest canyon in the United States. Reg had researched and read good reviews for The Lighthouse Trail, so we packed a lunch and off we went. We were a little skeptical of finding gorgeous scenery as we drove south from outside Amarillo, where the views go on for miles.
The day was expected to reach into the mid-80s although we expected it to get a little warmer along the trail. There were plenty of warnings to carry lots of water and reminders to reapply sunscreen. There was even a sunscreen dispenser at the trailhead for unprepared hikers. It was all just a little intimidating. Probably not a good choice for a summer hike.
Our information assured us there would be quite a few benches placed along the trail…and there were, but most were in the full sun. A nice spot to rest weary feet, but not much help hiding from the heat of the day. I paused for a quick photo, then we pushed on.
As we reached the base of The Lighthouse, we saw folks scrambling up the hillside ( left photo), obviously off the main trail. Choosing to remain on the trail, and thinking we’d have an easier climb because of it, we were faced with this mini-canyon of rocks (right photo) to hoist ourselves up and over.
Reg stands below the 300-foot-high Lighthouse formation, marking the end of the 3-mile trail. We climbed a little higher, but were stopped by the ridge of rock shoulder-high that would have required some pushing and shoving to get ourselves any higher.
We found Palo Duro Canyon State Park to be a hidden gem. Miles of hiking trails cross the park, numerous picnic areas and camping sites are available throughout. We were glad to see the park in spring. I would think summer would be dangerously hot.
Oh, and those high winds we hoped to escape…they arrived out of nowhere tonight, blowing through our campground with gusts of 40-50 mph. Batten down the hatches, its going to be a wild night.