Across the state the New Year kick off promotion was to go on a 1st Day Hike at a state park. My 1st Day Hike was at Lake Mineral Wells state park. A few things were learned during my first visit to a state park in Texas. It may seem sad after living here for 20 years that I have never been to a state park prior to this year. And this year I will visit them all!!! Wait, I think I have been to Mother Neff for a Christmas light display, maybe. I know it was a lake that I think was in that area.
Anyhow, my 1st day hike should have been an easy still around the lake on a nice trail. One of my learnings is that there are different levels of trails from easy to challenging Since I am not an avid hiker I presumed that easy and moderate would be right up my alley. What did I do? I hop off the side of the cliff launching a challenging hike. Note that I did not realize that it was the challenging trail, it just looked cool with hand laid rock steps going down the side. I mean there were steps right?
Going down was definitely the easy part. Seeing the lake that close from the trail was pretty cool, and seeing the rock climbing area was also really cool. It turned out to be a warm sunny day after a morning of fog that luckily turned off with the rising sun. The boulders on the trail s along the bottom and on the trip up were also a nice change from my expectation that I would be just staring at some water in a lake.
And then I saw that trail marker gradually winding back up the “hill”. That was the bottom portion and it was not a hill, it was the side of a cliff! I had to stop twice to catch my breath, but I did, and up I went making it back to the top and back to my parked car. Now as I read the description of the Red Challenging trail “Follow the eastern edge to Penitentiary Hollow. The hollow’s steep, sheer walls creat a unique habitat for wildlife and a haven for rock climbers.” Yikes! I would never have taken the trail had I read the description; but then I would have missed out on many cool sights, even if I had to stop a few times along the way.
My second hike of the day started out on an easy trail, then I jumped off on the Primitive Camping Trail that was challenging enough for me to not be able to imaging carrying a backpack full of gear over that rock, boulder and cactus strewn trail. That ended in another steep ascent. Luckily my trusty car “Beastie” was waiting for me at the very top again. I almost gave up a few times and turned back, but then I persevered and made it to my end point.
This trip not only put the first green pin in the map it was added a few more attractions. (See map section) There is a Vietnam Memorial wall that was constructed by local volunteers. They are building a large complex with militaria and war machines. (See Other Interests for this post) I also came across a very old cemetary that had some interesting stones to peruse. (See cemetary section for post)