Monday, March 01, 2010

Camping at Enchanted Rock

I live in the suburb, work in the city, but I'm a country boy at heart, so the "city life" gets tough sometimes. Three weekends ago I had the irresistible urge to get back I went camping.

To many people, camping in February sounds like a joke, but remember I'm in Texas so our February is much more mild than everywhere else, right?

Um, no. But more on that later...

Sunday morning found me scrambling to pull together all my gear and load up the car. The plan was to go to church, then after the service and the weekly potluck, drive about 25 miles north to Enchanted Rock state park. As you'll see in the photos, Enchanted Rock is a really interesting place. The topography is unlike anything else in Texas (and most other places) - it's an enormous pink granite dome rising about 425 feet above the rest of the landscape, and is the largest of its kind in the United States.

This is a photo of Enchanted Rock taken in 1912.

OK, back the camping trip. Remember I said that I was "scrambling" to get ready on Sunday morning? Well, I ended up forgetting some rather important things which people generally take camping - like pillows, and blankets...etc. Other than that, I was ready. But I would soon find out just how much my pillow means to me!

As I drove up toward Fredericksburg TX, I noticed the sky getting cloudy and dark ahead, and pretty soon, what once was a nice sunny afternoon became an ominous evening. Rain wasn't on the forecast but at this time of year you never know what will happen. I certainly wasn't looking forward to getting soaked, but when I go camping I don't go expecting comfort and ease. The prospect of weathering a south Texas rainstorm in a cheap tent with no rain fly, and not even a rain coat for protection certainly wasn't my idea of the ideal camping trip, but it could be fun depending on how you look at it. :)

Thankfully, it didn't rain that night. But it did get cold. VERY cold.

I managed to start a nice little fire using instant-light charcoal, paper, dry kindling and finally some large chunks of half-charred wood I salvaged from other fire pits around the campsite. For dinner I roasted a few habanero sausages and boiled water for some Chai tea (not your typical camping beverage, I know). Around 9:30 p.m. I began to notice how cold it was getting, but it didn't bother me much because I was positive I had enough layers to keep me warm no matter what happened.

Boy was I wrong! Though I didn't have a way to check the actual temperature, it must have gone below freezing that night - and my sleeping bag is rated 35+. This, plus the fact that I had no padding between me and the cold, hard sand, made me feel like I was reliving Hannibal's famous crossing over the Alps in the dead of winter. And I'm 99% sure I would have been more comfortable using a rock as a pillow than none at all. Suffice it to say, I got pretty much zero sleep that night!

The irony in all of this was the fact that, despite the discomfort, the biting cold, and the lack of rest, I managed to enjoy myself. By 5:00 a.m. I could no longer bear to lay in my sleeping bag shivering, so I got up and started the day off right - with another cup of tea. I figured the sunrise would be around 7:00, and I wanted to be ready to take some photos. That was one of the main reasons I camped out there.

Here are a few HDR exposures of that morning's sunrise. It was everything I had hoped for, and then some! On top of that, I don't think I will EVER forget my pillow again!


Jessica Cynthia Koch said...

Nice pic's Benjamin! Sure looks like you had fun!

AndraLea Rose said...

Sounds like you had a good camping experience, despite the fact that you had no pillow. I couldn't imagine camping without a pillow, let alone sleeping on a mattress without one. :-) And I must say, you can never go wrong with tea.