Trailhead StartBusy week.  I have a project with looming deadlines.  I somehow found time to visit my buddy Ray in San Antonio Thursday night.  He hosted me at his house to display his home brew.  I sampled three or four (that night’s a bit fuzzy), and preferred his American Ale.  In fact, I emptied the keg dry of that brew.  Ray was flush with other beers though from German Kölsch to Hefeweizen.  Ray took up the brewing hobby in early January and does everything but grow the seeds himself.  He buys grain and yeast from Europe, and even hand grinds the grain.  Completely buzzed, we dined later in the evening at Perry’s Steakhouse.  Very nice.

It’s Saturday morning now and I find myself driving through a rainy mist to the Texas Hill Country.  I was 22 years old during my last trip to Pedernales Falls State Park.  My brother and I were floating down the spillway and I got carried over a 10 foot waterfall.  I flipped over and landed on my back on a big flat rock protruding from the water.  Steve had to carry me out of there.  I limped around for a good month.  Today marks my return.  Hoping things go better this time around.

I take MoPac out of Round Rock.  Traffic is light until the junction of Hwy 290 with Hwy 71 in Oak Hill.  When are they going to do something about this?  It’s been horrible for decades.  Just as the mist clears to blue sky, FM 3232 sneaks up on me as there is no sign for the State Park.  Odd considering I doubt anyone takes this road to Johnson City.  Pedernales has to be the primary destination.  The Park Ranger is located a few miles past the park entrance.  I stop to pay the $6 use fee.  I also pick up a green bandana that contains a print of the trail map.  Brilliant.  I’ve noticed many Texas runners wear bandanas to guard against gnats, which can be abundant along creeks and rivers.  I think it’s fair to call the scarf a bandana rather than a kerchief, because it’s worn around the neck rather than to cover the head.

The trailhead starts just beyond the Park Ranger Station.  The course design qualifies as a lollipop, although I don’t run it that way.  I intended to by running the nearly 2 mile stick and then doing a couple of loops around the pop.  Signage is poor though and I run more of an out and back route with a smaller loop at the end around Wolf Mountain.  I also run up and back a couple of trail spurs to other unnamed trailheads.  The lollipop route would be under ten miles.  My meandering gets me over 12 miles.

Much of the trail is wide double track.  Some cool single track presents itself deeper into the trail around the loop.  I cross three different wet creeks, first Bee Creek, then Mescal Creek and Tobacco Creek.  The water is low and I’m able to clear them without getting my shoes wet or muddy.  I stop on my way back at Jones Spring.  Not much water here either but enough to dip my bandana and hat.  I’m fairly baked at this point and thank this watering hole for aiding my return to the trailhead without walking.

trailhead afterI’m happy with myself for making the 50 mile drive to Pedernales Falls.  Sure, I got a bit lost at times but I love running new trails that I’m not familiar with.  Honestly, a few wrong turns only add to my enjoyment.  This is why I run trails.  They require total attention.  There’s no day dreaming.  Time stands still as I live in the present.  I don’t think about yesterday’s problems.  I’m not planning my future.  I’m fully engaged navigating turns in the trail while managing my footfalls.  Some work days actually go like this.  It might sound like how a stoner gets through mundane tasks, but I find it the perfect way to live.  This was a great run.