NaturaLu Excursions: The 52 Hike Challenge 2021: Hike 4 and 5

It’s been a long, yet amazing week. I went to a meditation retreat for the last few days and it was just the experience I needed to start the new year. While the focus of the retreat was on meditation and learning to be our higher selves, we experienced an amazing time surrounded by nature. You know I was happy!

The retreat was settled in the Lajitas Golf Resort in Lajitas, Texas. We were nestled between Big Bend National Park and the US/Mexico Border at the Rio Grande. Y’all…the landscape alone was enough to be immersed in. I saw some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, not to mention it was pitch black at night! It was just an amazing spirit in the air. I will make that 7.5 hours drive again for those views alone.

Taken at Panther Junction Vistor Center, Big Bend National Park
Orion constellation in the middle. This area is also know for it’s “Oasis of darkness.”

Hike 4: Santa Elena Canyon, Big Bend National Park

On the second day of being in Lajitas, we traveled mid-morning into Big Bend National Park. A few quick facts about Big Bend. IT’S HUGE! Big Bend is 1,252 miĀ² and 801,163 acres! It borders the Rio Grande for 196 miles. Before we completed the drive to Santa Elena Canyon, we stopped at Sotol Vista off the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. From there you can see several points of interest, including the canyon creating a wide-open space in the middle of the backdrop. Santa Elena Canyon is split in half, with the north side in the US (Texas) side and the south side in Mexico (Chihuahua) side. While it is not tall in comparison to the peaks in the area, it sits at 1,500ft. The trail itself is short, going about a mile in, for two miles round trip. It’s great for all hikers and gives a bit of a challenge in the beginning climb to the trail. But nothing you can’t do!

Walking towards the trail. Santa Elena Canyon.
Looking at the Rio Grande and Mexico.
Southeast side of Santa Elena Canyon.

It was fun to hear people call out into the canyon, hearing the sound travel throughout. We stopped for a bit eat lunch and take photos before turning back. On the way back, we saw a pack of javelinas heading towards the riverbank, before they realized several humans were nearby, and turned around back into the shrubbery. While this was a very short hike for me, it was worth it. To see something so grand formed in nature and recognizing the strength that water holds. Truly a moment in time, I will never forget.

Inside the canyon, you can see the end of the trail in far right.

Hike 5: Mesa de Anguila Trail, Big Bend National Park

Entering the trailhead.

On the third day of the retreat, we had some downtime, so what better to do than find a trail close by! There were a few trails nearby, some walking distance and some a brief drive up or down the road. We decided to take on the walking distance one. With no map available, we followed the directions one of the resort’s porters suggested earlier. This ended up being the Mesa de Anguila Trail. Fun fact about this trail, it leads to the same range that Santa Elena Canyon cuts through several miles down. Due to time, we didn’t trek the actual mountain but reached its base and turned around. I found this trail map after the fact, but it appears the trail is about 8 miles to Santa Elena itself. We were able to complete 3.4 miles to and from the resort. I would love to venture into this trail the next time I visit.

Mesa de Anguila.
Mesa de Anguila behind me.

Overall, though both hikes were short, I love that I was able to have this experience. Big Bend is a magical place and I look forward to another trip in the future. I will probably try to be there for about 5 days. The park does offer suggestions on what trails/ranges to visit depending on the time of your stay. So if this is on your list, be sure to check out the suggestions and plan accordingly!

I was thankful for this landscape as well, as it was reminiscent of my childhood home in the High Desert in Southern California. It even has creosote bushes. If you have never smelled those in the air, you are missing out! Desert life isn’t always loved by many people, but it has its own defined beauty and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Creosote Bush (Larrea tridentata)

Until the next adventure…

Lindsey

The amazing sunset on our last night there.
Lajitas Golf Resort

NATURALU EXCURSIONS: THE 52 HIKE CHALLENGE 2021: HIKE 2 AND 3

Hello there!!

First off, let me say Happy Martin Luther King, Jr Day! And I hope you are doing something in your life to impact the world for the better!

Hike 2: Salado Creek Greenway

Alright to the hiking! If you read last week’s hiking post, it rained all day( with some sleet and snow in some areas), so I didn’t get out that Sunday. My second hike of the year happened last Tuesday, Jan 12. This is a special day for me, as it is my brother’s birthday. If you’ve followed me for a while, you may know his story. But if you don’t, that is okay. My brother passed from colon cancer at the age of 33 in 2015. Since then, I’ve taken the time to ensure I do something for him on his birthday and also the day he passed (March 29th). It usually entails me going to a park to just sit and reflect on him and our life together or the last couple years, going on a hike.

We grew up in Southern California, and anyone who thinks of that immediately goes to…BEACH. And while yes we explored many beaches and city/local parks, we also spend a lot of time in the desert. We moved out to the High Desert in the late 80s/early 90s. I have plenty of fond memories of us adventuring in the deserts right behind our house. Finding rocky mountains and bike jumps. Exploring for what seemed like hours just by ourselves. All of that, laid the foundation of our “getaway” in nature as we got older. We were quiet, reflective and healed in nature. Something I am grateful for everyday that our parents provided us with.

I didn’t go on my “typical” hike (which is usually a dirt trail, rocky inclines and in the middle of no where lol), but I returned to one of our local Greenways here in San Antonio. I used to go on these for years when I used to run. That day I chose to start at the Pletz Park Trailhead from the Salado Creek Greenway. It was a chilly day, but worth the quiet. I barely saw anyone on the trail, a few joggers and bikers here and there. I walked the three miles to the Martin Luther King, Jr Park Trailhead and took a break to write in my journal to my brother. After about 15 minutes or so, I hopped back on the trail and headed back. I completed 6 miles, which in turn honored the 6 years my brother has been gone.

Curve near KOA on Greenway.

One of the things that does bother me on the city trails is the trash. Many of the creeks in town have so much trash. There were some beautiful shots, ruined by the presence of cups, plastic bags, clothes and anything else you can think of! I even saw an ice chest. I will be looking into trash clean-up days and what the city has planned (if anything).

This section was by the MLK trailhead.
I did enjoy viewing the new trail maps!

Overall, the day was a great, emotionally filled day. A beautiful reminder that grief only shows how much love we hold. And that we should never take for granted the beauty that life does bring to us daily.

Hike 3: Enchanted Rock Natural State Area

Me and my hiking buddies!

Sunday hiking returned yesterday. My usual hiking buddies and I ventured to one of my favorites spots, Enchanted Rock Natural State Area. This was my sixth time there; with one friend, being her second and the other, her first. We ventured on the Loop Trail first, heading East towards Buzzard’s Roost. Of all the times, I’ve been there, I hadn’t ventured on that part yet so I was excited to see new things.

Absolutely loved this area. This is right below Buzzard’s Roost. We stopped here for a good 20+ minutes just exploring and taking photos.

The best part about Enchanted Rock, is of course the “rock” itself, but really all the great climbing areas. Whether you are just up for an adventure, testing your limits, avid rock climber or bouldering, these rock formations are amazing! You will definitely have some moments of hesitation, but if you are like us, we go for it! And yes, we do know our limits and the times of….”if we were trained in rock climbing…” moments. So as always, with any hiking adventure you go on, know yourself!

This was on Buzzard’s Roost.

Enchanted Rock itself, is pretty steep and is almost a mile (0.8) up from the bottom (starting at the Gazebo entrance to Summit Trail). Many people come to just hike it and leave. This was my 4th time up and even with a few mini breathing spots, it takes about 15 minutes to get to the top.

Hiking down Enchanted Rock.

A highlight from this hike was finally hiking up Turkey Peak. We sat and watched the sun begin to set. We also heard coyotes in the area howling. It was pretty exciting. It started out as a few and then you could hear several all at once.

From Turkey Peak looking at Enchanted Rock.

This trip also made me want to start some rock climbing classes this year, and of course, work on strengthening my bad knees. I recall trying to climb back in college and just never really went to try again. Such a shame, but that will change!

To learn more about the legends and history of Echanted Rock, check these sites out:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept TPWD

Texas State Historical Association TSHA

This was one of my best trips out there. I’m so sore today and it’s all worth it. I’m super excited to head to Big Bend later this week! So stay tuned!

Until the next adventure…

Lindsey

Leaving Turkey Peak and heading to Turkey Pass Trail. It was a beautiful sunset.

Happy New Year… What’s new?

Well we know 2020 was a little bit of a crazy year. Although, I have a lot of gratitude towards 2020. In fact, I wrote a love letter to it (will share in another post). I admit, this blog sat on the back burner for the last 7-8 months. Yet, I have been far from complacent in that time.

Just a few updates since my new year post of 2020 and my last post in May. I found my worth. I moved into a tiny home. I started a Wellness Life Coaching Business (www.rebirthselflove.com) and I finished my 52 Hike Challenge. I did well with my poetry for a while and then life just caught up with me. Between all the good, there was definitely pain and sorrow in between. Life has been lived and I am ready for more!

I am making a new addition to NaturaLu Creations for 2021. I have decided to do the 52 Hike Challenge again and to write about my amazing adventures. These hikes have been my saving grace in 2020- with COVID and racism being in our faces all year long, I needed something to settle my anxieties and nature has always been the best therapy for me. Don’t worry, the poetry will be coming back this week too!

So join me on a little hiking adventure each week! Welcome to NaturaLu Creations presents, NaturaLu Excursions!

NATURALU EXCURSIONS: The 52 Hike Challenge 2021, Hike 1: Kickapoo Cavern State Park

Today, my friends and I, went to a brand new place for us. We traveled almost 3 hours to Bracketville, TX to visit the Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Although we weren’t able to see the actual caverns (thanks again to COVID) or stay to watch the bats emerge, we were able to trek about 95% of the trails there and complete 11.2 miles.

Amazing trees on the Vireo Vista Trail.

If you are a bird watcher, you will love it here. We saw so many birds, including Crested Caracaras and the most American Robins I have ever seen. I am not an avid birder, but I remember many species from my college Ornithology class (I was a Wildlife Conservation Major). I have thought about investing in binoculars so I can test myself from all that knowledge over a decade ago! You can pick up this bird checklist below, inside at the office!

Awesome birding field checklist.

If you are looking for other signs of wildlife, you are still in luck. We saw several armadillos, one of which pretty much walked right past us while looking for food and water. There were also hundreds of javelina footprints around and we did see a fox running by in the morning (we arrived around 930am).

Our most curious armadillo friend stopped for a drink.

If you are not an avid hiker just yet, some of the trails may be challenging for you. As always, Texas State Parks provide trail guides with a levels of difficulty. Most scale “easy” towards “moderate,” with the Barbado Ridge Trail leading, moderate to strenuous (I will say, for any of these parks, be aware that these maps are not to scale. We typically hike more than what the numbers say). The terrain is pretty rocky and has several steep inclines and declines. The highest point we reached was 1,900ft. Make sure you have some sturdy shoes and ready for those rocks. And if you have any previous injuries, make sure you are prepared. I have knee injuries and always wear my knee brace, but those inclines, plus the distance, can be rough! Those last two miles certainly were for me.

Barbado Ridge Trail, total trail is about 2.1 miles

Overall, it was a perfect day with the views and the weather. I usually layer up (it was 34 degrees Fahrenheit when we arrived and moved up the to high 60s). I plan to go back when they reopen the caverns to the public. We only saw three other people on the trails, really just one biker. Seemed like everyone else who was there was utilizing the camping grounds. Perfect park to go to if you are looking for some quiet and no people! Yay for social distancing.

They have some great signage throughout the park!

If you enjoying hiking, what are some of your favorites areas to frequent?

Until the next adventure…

Lindsey

Riverbed on The Long Way Home Trail