Thursday, March 12, 2009

Banging my Foots on the Trail

I guess I’m the proverbial glutton for self-abuse. Only a week has gone by and I’ve went hiking again and I blasted off like I was a spring chicken after working a shift at the Chemical Plant that pays my bills.

I blame Brazos Bend State Park, its wildlife and the Staff that maintains this great Park for drawing me back so soon, plus the fact that American alligator breeding season is in full heat. If you want to see gators, now is the time to go where they live.

I made the hour and twenty minute drive from Baytown to the Needville, Texas State Park (BBSP) and pulled in the Ranger station right about 8am. I was greeted by a friendly Hispanic Ranger and I attempted in my meager Spanish to ask about mosquitoes. She instantly warmed up to me and told me in Spanish that zancudos were no problemos right now due to the dry weather.

I parked in the first lot, next to the bathroom facilities and made my way down the short Prairie Trail towards the 40 Acre Lake.

Right off the bat I noticed two large alligators lounging close to the bank. This was a big change from a week ago when the alligators were more sluggish. This morning they were alert and numerous times during the day I witnessed them sliding along or moving towards me as I walked the trails.

They tell me they’ve never had a serious incident in the park concerning alligators, but warning signs are posted and during breeding season, the gators move all over the place. This is important to note, as one could be directly on the trail, or lying beside it in deep grass. When in doubt, keep to the middle of the well-maintained trail.

Since the park was for the most part devoid of people and it was early morning, my head turned back and forth like a pendulum, as I walked, but I was confident and cool and I was steadily hiking, looking and taking photographs and videos to post on the web.

I was having the time of my life and the best part was I knew it as I was doing it.

All the State Parks have online maps and also in the park you are visiting. I grabbed one at the Ranger station and they are printed on 8X14 paper and quite rugged. Each time I’ve hiked, I used mine extensively (with sweaty hands) and they hold up very well.

This day I plotted what I figured to be about 12 miles, using a series of trails and visit part of the park I did not hike the week before. The only problem I encountered was getting from one trail to the next across the park and not having a to-scale map to gauge the distance. This hike grew as I walked it and even though I kept on a steady pace, it turned into a 14 miler by trails end.

I shot 11 videos for posting on youtube and if you subject yourself to them in the order I shot them by following my web pages, you will see how beat down I became by the last one. I had foolishly run out of water, even though I took what should have been enough, my feet were sore and I was dehydrated. Live and learn you say? Not likely, as this wasn’t my first rodeo…but, I am okay and next time I’ll bring a hydration pack instead of my lumber pack, which only carries 32ounces of water.

What got me down was the temperature and rising humidity. Up until then, I’ve been hiking with cool temperatures and 78 degrees while hiking 14 miles and carrying 20-pounds of gear multiplied the stress factor. That and the five and a half hours of strenuous hiking.

Anyway, my photos are posted here along with the many videos.

All feedback on and ratings will be posted and appreciated.

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