The Enchanted Rock is a massive pink dome of granite that is near Fredericksburg, Texas. The dome itself is the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. It is part of a large area of granite what is called as batholith. In fact, the area stretches mainly underground for 62 square miles!! The top of the dome rises 425 feet above the base station and 1825 feet above sea level. Climbing the rock is like taking the stairs of a 30 to 40 story building. Source.
After lunch, we took the nearly 90 mile drive to the rock from San Antonio. The skies were a mix of clouds and sun. Unlike the drive into San Antonio, traffic was a lot better once we got out of Rt. 35 and onto Rt. 10. I was enjoying the skies while driving while overseas chatter on Whatsapp was keep my Valentine busy. I had to be content with the frequent smiles on her face that my peripheral vision could steal once in a while. I tried hard to keep a conversation going but all I got was a ‘hmm’ here and a ‘O’ there! Finally I decided to give it all up and focus my attention on mentally berating myself for picking up the Yaris.
The drive goes through the charming town of Fredericksburg. A main street that is two lanes each way is not something you see often even in bigger cities. Lined with equally charming shops, the town of German settlers is surrounded by many vineyards waiting to be explored. I made it a point to stop on the way back to pick some coffee and evening stroll. The walk would certainly be lovely in the evening.
We got to the park about 2:30 only to find out that the gates were closed! Oh, no! There couldn’t have been a bigger disappointment after the 90 minutes drive. The park ranger at the entrance said that the park will re-open at 3:30. At least some solace. We had to wait out the hour driving up a bit on the road and parking underneath the shade of a tree outside a ranch. The road was lined up with ranches all along. What makes these interesting are the entrances to the ranches that are built to stand out from its neighbours. With a vast area of tract on the ranch and dwelling somewhere deep inside, it is only the entrance that can distinguish one from the other apart from the address itself, of course.
About ten minutes to 3:30 we turned back and saw a line of some 25 cars already waiting to enter the park. Apparently the park has a limit of occupants and hence the reason for the temporary closing. A $7 fee got us a map and entrance to the parking lot. There were a lot of people already in the park as indicated by the number of cars parked. The park is also a campground for overnight campers and star gazers. We saw a white tent surrounding which was an array of telescopes all pointing up to the skies. Park visitors were invited to take a look at the sun by the enthusiast astronomers and sky gazers. Looking at what is a black spot, though a centimeter in diameter, of what is the sun isn’t exciting at all – trust me. You would think you will see all fire and glory, but no – you will be disappointed totally for sure. Instead just look at the glorious photos on NASA’s website.
We chose to take the Summit trail which would take us to the top of the dome. The loop wound around the base of the rock for a stretch of 4 miles. The Summit trail would help us ascend the 425 feet to the top. Looking up, we should see people as tiny specks at the top. There were a lot of families climbing including pets. It was very comforting to see quite a lot of people. There are trails I have been where you and your partner/team are the only people for hours of walking or miles around and that can be a little disconcerting. The trail itself is of moderate to strenuous difficulty. The initial 20 meters or so is marked by steps edged by wood leading down and then stoned steps leading up. After about 10 minutes, it becomes all rock. You need to make sure you have good shoes on that is supportive. The all rock surface would make is very slippery if at all it rained, but the park would be closed during rains.
I remembered my climb up to the summit of Mr. Meruthi on the Karnataka-Kerala border way back after I had finished my 12th grade. During that summer, we took a group hike organized by the local YMCA. That was a thrilling if not frightening hike. You can read all about it in this previous post of mine.
It took us about 40 minutes to reach to the top from the bottom of the Summit trail with a few rests. In life there are points when you feel you can’t go forward anymore. Those are the times when you need some intervention. If you are in a position to provide that sort of positive intervention, seize the opportunity. It will make a difference. There are times when you feel things are at a dead-end and intervention isn’t just going to happen. During those times, you just have to keep going hoping for the best. Else you will lose sight of rest of your world and get into what is called ‘stuckness‘. In a previous blog post, I referred to this as stuckedness, but I mean the same. You are stuck – or immobile – so much so that you can’t move forward. Often times, the cause is not that much insurmountable. It might require a simple solution such as taking a break more often while climbing or talking it out. However wise we become as we grow old, stuckness isn’t something unique to just the uneducated or the unknowing.
The top was very refreshing with a light wind blowing into my face. All around, there was just plain mother Earth with the semi-dry terrain and an occasional lump of a hill enticing to be explored. I could see two little girls, all in pretty frocks, walking around oblivious to their efforts in getting to the top. Several other children on the way were a challenge to their parents. Adults alike were either tired after just getting there or enjoying the view. It would have been awesome to watch the skies from up there, but sundown was still an hour and a half away. So we started our hike back down. In about 30 minutes we were back down.
The drive back from Enchanted Rock was easier as the sun was still up. I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the sunset on the way back somewhere mid-way on the sides of the great open Texas land, but that wasn’t the case. We did stop at Fredericksburg and enjoyed a nice stroll along the main street. The latte at a Yogurt shop was so-so. Unless you go into a speciality coffee shop, it is as though people don’t know how to make a latte. Having a machine is good enough seems to be thought process. The latter we got was not hot enough, but the young man who served them didn’t appear to be knowledgeable about what good coffee or latte is. So we let go of complaining and headed back to our car.