Enchanted Rock: The Climb

Enchanted Rock – 1,825ft – a pink granite wonder located in the Texas hill country. The climb is a steep 425 foot rise in about a half a mile. And to a non-math, non-physics, non-calc type person like me; it doesn’t mean much from the bottom. Except…..
Is that an ant or a person up there?

My only assurance that it all would be fine and I would make it to the top (or could) was seeing a young girl and her weenie dog at the bottom. She seemed exhilarated by the climb. The little dog still wheedled around on his stumpy legs happy as could be. If they could do it so easily and with a smile – couldn’t an overweight desk job gal like me make it? (What’s a half-mile anyway?)

So, I wasn’t concerned. I was excited! Look at the picture again. TONS of people are climbing the summit trail. It can’t be THAT bad, right?

Enchanted Rock State Natural area consists of 640 acres. It is a Texas state park located 15 miles to the north of Fredericksburg. And apparently – according to wiki – the large rock is called a monadock; meaning a lone hill (or mountain) rising out of the plain.

It is recorded as the largest monadock in the United States. The Indians used this word and that explains a lot about Enchanted Rock. There are MANY stories and legends very spiritual in nature. It’s been said the minerals in the rock are renewing. It’s been said if you stay the night there you become invisible. The natives revered it as a holy portal to other worlds.

I don’t know about all the legends, but I do know it caught my attention. Not just the monadock of Enchanted Rock but the whole area. The feel of it, the colors, and the peace that radiated. The utter fascination reminded me so much of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I couldn’t stop staring at the “rock”. I wanted to grab some clay or mashed potatoes; mold it, sculpt it, and remember every detail.

But instead, we did what any budding photographer(s) would do. Took the scenic route around the rock – better to see you with my dear – and not just climb straight up.

The Loop Trail was our path to begin with.

The loop trail takes you between Enchanted Rock and Turkey Peak. My sights were equally torn between the two. There were people on Turkey Peak as well, but the climb looked much, much harder (for another day when we are more fit?).

Turkey Peak

I fully expected a rough climb right away, but it wasn’t. There were big rock stairs and a nice wide path. The ascent on this side was very gradual. The scenery as beautiful as I expected.

The loop trail (we took half the loop trail) did not disappoint in all the sights of the two peaks and great landscape.

There were soooo many cactus, but they decorated the grounds perfectly. The area was very dusty and dry and they seemed a natural part (which they are). Some of them were in full bloom. I had no idea dull prickly cactus had such gusto and vibrancy in them.

Around the bend we discovered……..

Crazy adrenaline-rushed maniacs rock climbers hanging from a cliff (ZOMG!). And I kid you not, about four vultures circled in the immediate area. Coincidence? I don’t think so (shudder).

Of course the hikers let out quite a whoop when the guy made it to the slanted narrow rock face they sat precariously perched on. Ummm, yay?

The next part of the trail goes from scenic – look at the pretty flowers – to ugly in about twenty steps. No more lovely curving paths peppered with pretty cacti. Oh no, it gets rough. Enter Echo Trail path. I think they call it that for the screams and scrapes from climbing BOULDERS. This is not a path it’s a death trap.

This is the trail.

I was wearing sneakers and shorts. I was terrified of snakes under rocks (that’s where they live, right?).

But hey, you know what? I grew up with two brothers close in age. I used to climb trees for fun. I faced a snake or two and lived to tell about it. My husband, the former Marine, with nerves of steel is waiting.

The boulder way seemed a short cut to the top. After the vigorous slab hopping, we ended up within sight of the peak.

It became clear to me there was only one way to go from this point. Up (pic above).

Or back down.


I wanted to go up. I did. Every part of me wanted to be at the top on a very FLAT surface. Just something even to stand on; not a slope or a slant. Ohpleasefortheloveofallnature get me down. Whimper.

But I had to move my limbs UP to get there. That’s when I had my first panic attack of all time. The full-blown can’t look down – can’t go up – legs turned to jello heart-thumping kind of panic attack.

Jason smiled from high above, “It’s okay. You can do this, just lean into it. It’s not bad.” Then he pointed out the 11-year old girl walking up the side of the mountain with her parents and younger brother. Casual-like, in fact…. almost running skipping up the side.

That’s when I pulled out all the stops, not that I wasn’t scared, but I wasn’t going to let Jason continue to smile and move his eyes in the direction of the CHILDREN pouncing up the granite surface in a hop-scotch-kind-of-way as he so casually stood way, way above me. Did I mention he was smiling? Fine!

I put my head down and I climbed. Eat your heart out Miley Cyrus.

To this…

The Summit.

I made it. I leaned. I dug. I took several panic breath breaks to get there.

And the view? Incredible.

From every side.

And every flower.

And every vista.

We went down via the Summit Trail – the one at the beginning that we skipped. I’m really glad we didn’t go up that way, because the sight of this rock face would not have bode well with me and my jello legs.

The trek down was just as hard, but if you walk in baby steps. Stop often, and choose a diagonal zig-zag path, it’s not so daunting. Just be careful of the children racing by.

The best part of the whole trip….I wasn’t even sore the next day. Four hours of walking and climbing a mountain of stone by an out-of-shape middle ager suddenly fearful of heights. Yet, I still left the rock energized, accomplished, and only scraped on one knee.

Enchanted Rock? Definitely enchanted me.

I’m blaming hormones

I swear, I don’t have a single coherent thought. I feel my very nerve endings screaming in stress, but I’m not. I’m not worried about anything, but I should be, and I can’t think about them. What good would worrying do? I have choices, there is no worry. And see? That thought process is not very coherent, or incoherent?

I, quite often, don’t make sense. Just ask Jason. Wouldn’t that be fun? Wait, I can give you his answer, “Huh? What?”. I noticed last night, it’s his standard response, and now I’m doing it too. See, Jason and I constantly miscommunicate, it’s a source of humor now. *It has to be, otherwise we’d run screaming from the room*

I don’t hear well. He doesn’t hear well. This is going to work in our favor as we age, I just know it. As I became aware of this last night, when I said, “Huh?” before I actually listened to what he was saying (oh, that’s bad!). I realized, I heard what he said, as he was repeating it. Um. Oops. In my defense, I suspect he does the same thing to me, which is why we both do it. Got all that?  Huh?

I started a different post this morning, but I didn’t want to finish it (right now). I stayed up late watching a movie with Jason, which explains my muddled thought process. I have the dreaded Aunt Flo visit any moment, any second.  It’s not going to be pretty, at least the first day or two, until I put her in her place, stuff her trap with chocolate and pasta, and send her cranky butt packing.

Also, a few weeks ago, I found out from my yearly visit –  yes you ladies know – THAT one.  I have an elevated Thyroid. Uh, Yay? I’ve been expecting that for a while. My mom has Grave’s disease. She has osteoporosis as well. I am just a chip off the old block. Mom, loveyoumeanit..

At least now, I know why 40 degrees is comfortable, and anything else is blasted HOT. Turn on the A/C – where’s my face fan?  Why are you wearing a coat? Yeah, that explains all that. And can I just apologize to my roommates and Sydney? I’m sorry, but the heater is not allowed on unless it’s below freezing outside. I repeat, I’m sorry.

I go see the Endocrinologist the first week of December to see what is going on, and if it matches what Dr. Peters believes (Graves). Sad thing is, an elevated Thyroid should make you lose weight. Not this chickie, but I do think I’d be TWICE as big if I didn’t have an elevated one. So, there’s a plus (and a pun, heh).

Thanksgiving is next week, a lot of people are making their –  what I’m thankful for lists. My mom is talking about visiting, which would be amazing. Last time she mentioned that, she couldn’t come, honestly, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but that’d be the top of my thankful list! Oh yeah.

And, last night, totally unexpected, my favorite post was featured, on The Bold Life. Click on the link, or you can find it under the Joys of Writing tab, or you can go to Tess Marshall’s site, via My Favorite Blogs, over there somewhere —————> or even ^ up there, in What I’m reading tab, which is her book, Flying by the Seat of my Soul, one of the many books I’m reading. It is AWESOME. It means so much to me that she would share my link on her site.

The post link is the story of my step dad who died, August 2008. A Father’s Love. The mention of this story, this time of the month especially, just brings on the waterworks. He was my safety net. Without him,  I always feel – I’m walking the tightrope – on my own. There is no net, no crash pad, no rescue, just vacant free-falling to the floor. In other words, I MISS him, sooo much.

But, I am not alone. Jason is the strongest, most vigilant, and loyal sponsor (thanks, Wilma)  I have ever had (besides God). He is completely reliable, 100%. If I was a needy person, he’d be there for me. I’m not, at least, I try not to be (maybe to a fault). I don’t need saving or rescuing (the old me did, but didn’t know it). I guess it was just the comfort of my step dad being there, a back up, an extra pair of batteries, a just in case.

Obviously, I am very capable. I have lived on my own since age 17.  Paid my own bills, supported a family, and I didn’t even rely on child support. There were some years, I didn’t even GET child support, so I couldn’t rely on it. Don’t mistake that for not appreciating it. I do appreciate it. It helps greatly, but it’s not necessary for my survival. I don’t think I could be that dependent, nor would I want to be (prideful much?).

As you can see, this is not a normal post for me. I have a lot of things on my mind. As joyful as the holidays are, they can be hard for me. I had an ectopic pregnancy one Thanksgiving, surgery that December. The last time I saw my grandmother alive was last Thanksgiving.  This is my second Thanksgiving without my step dad. As thankful as I am, I can’t help but remember.

In the works, I have some great life stories I’m working on…Life with a broken right hand amidst, a downward spiral of the economy (why yes, I am right handed, not to mention that I type for a living). All reservations are booked by computer, air, car, hotel – all – have to be typed in. It’s too good not to blog about it. The Survival.

Another story, at Christmas 2007, about a very good friend of mine and what her family did for me and Sydney. I will never forget it.  You will be astounded by the Christmas spirit that visited us.

So can we all take a big deep breath? (iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnn oooooooooooouuuut)  Ahhhh, that’s better (yes, Peggy, I need to get to Yoga class). Thank YOU, if you are reading this, if you comment. I appreciate you more than you know. I don’t have any immediate family members that read my blog (except my daughter sometimes, hi sweetie, I love you! and Jason because I make him- Did you read my blog yet? Did you? How about now?).

So you, YES YOU, dear, kind, precious reader. Give yourself a hug and smile, from me (if you’re there-I can’t see through this box).  Words can not convey what you mean, I know there are so many talented, and creative blogs out there. That you chose to read mine is humbling beyond measure. (wow, that kinda sounded like an airline)