Having received a freaking awesome backpacking stove, it is time to figure out a reason to use it. We finally settled on a reason called Palo Duro Canyon state park. Since I didn’t link to the Wikipedia page, allow me to enlighten you: its average depth is 900 ft average width is 6 miles making it the second largest canyon in the US. It also has pretty dramatic side walls with a very flat bottom, something relatively rare in the canyon community. It is also home to a relatively rare commodity: heated and electrified cabins. So, the plan: drive out to the park early Saturday morning, hike around all day, rent a cabin for the evening where we can test out the stove, return Sunday morning victorious, tired, and proud.
Step 1 of the plan went very well. On the way up Interstate 27 we got to see many tumble weeds, cotton fields mid harvest, and giant bales of cotton waiting in the field to be picked up.
We arrived to a very windy day and perused the gift shop/history museum. Word of warning, there is a public water fountain, but no place to easily fill your water bottles. We had to use the bathrooms.
After perusing the wonderful gift shop/museum we set out.
I had heard about a little used trail at Palo Duro Canyon called the Triassic Trail. According to the website I read isn’t really labeled (awesome), hasn’t been upkept (even better), and people rarely go on it since it isn’t on the list of official trails (Sold!). In my naivety, I figured bookmarking the website would be sufficient preparation.
We set out on a trail, called CCC trail, that fit the description in the blog as starting out from the parking lot of the gift shop. All was well though contrary to prior belief, the trail was quite well maintained.
With beautiful overlooks of the canyon at spots.
And wicked cool 80+ year old stone bridges built during the Great Depression.
And after about a mile hike we hit a crossroads.
View Palo Duro Canyon Nov. 2012 in a larger map
Well, cross-roads implies that both paths were equally valid. More accurately, the opportunity to get lost arose and I jumped in with two feet. See in that map above where the path we took starts heading straight north. Ya, don’t do it. Not part of the trail. It kind of looks like part of the trail until you hit a small understated sign that says “State Park Boundary” at which point you have to turn back and head back to the trail that points in the direction of the CCC trail. I believe that if you follow the link above, you can download the GPS trail we took and follow it if you like.
After getting back to the trail we continued on hiking along the ridge until we reached the very end.
Here, we sat down and had a light lunch.
From our vantage point we could look over a large part of the canyon, including the site of Texas! an “Outdoor Musical Drama”. Seriously, click on the link. We haven’t seen it but it celebrates all things Texas and starts with a man riding a horse while carrying a giant Texas flag (is there any other kind) rides along the very ridge we were sitting on. In fact, we found the spot he plants the flag when he is done. Riding with it that is, I bet it gets tiring.
By the time we started heading back the wind had picked up something fierce, almost blowing Kristen off the narrow part of the ridge.
We head back to the car and drive to the front gate to pick up the keys to our cabin, probably the most amazing cabin ever.
Seriously, 60 bucks a night, bring your own beading. Awesome. We rested our feets for a bit.
And then we set out for round 2, Fight!
View Palo Duro Canyon Nov. 2012 in a larger map
Here is the second trail we took, about 4 miles long mostly along the canyon floor. The trail ends at our cabin which you can see if you click on the map and switch from terrain to satellite.
There is considerably more vegetation on the canyon floor because, well, there is more water there. Technically, there is a river, but the word river has a considerably more fluid (ha!) definition in Texas. I complained once in my Fluid Mechanics class about how my river example problems don’t work because the rivers here in Texas are dry. They vehemently corrected me: the rivers here are not *always* dry.
In anycase, back to the hike. We started by crossing this “river”.
Perhaps emboldened by our previous off-trail adventure we decided to explore what looked like an animal trail. It should be said, in the midwest this is a perfectly reasonable choice. Deer will often wear narrow trails in the forest that are quite fun to follow and lead you to some out of the way places.
There are no deer in Palo Duro Canyon.
The animal trail led back to the “river”.
We stopped and admired the tall dirt cliff when we heard some rustling about 50 ft. down “river”. A wild pig! It must be said, this is not the type of pig I am used to seeing at county fairs. County fair pigs are gigantic animals, gigantic sedentary animals. No, this wild pig bounded, BOUNDED away like a deer and at a speed that terrified me. When I got back I asked my Statics class what to do if, instead of running away, the 400 lb of angry bacon decided to charge me. Their response was simple, shoot it.
Well, after we had that exciting encounter, the rest of our hike was comparatively boring, but beautiful.
After hiking, we retired to the cabin and cooked dinner on our kick ass camp stove.
For dinner we cooked some pasta, had some lentil salad we brought with, and washed it all down with woodchuck. Absolutely delicious after hiking 8 miles!
After dinner we finished off the 6 pack of woodchuck while playing a couple games of Carcasonne.
After a long, and full day we retired for the evening to return to Lubbock in the morn victorious, tired, and sore.