October 6, 2001

10/6/01 Lost Maples

46.6 / 9017 miles

Kept looking out the tent all evening, checking on the river level. When I was convinced I wouldn't be flooded out, I relaxed enough to know I needed to pee. Go outside and get drenched or... Well, neither choice was great. Lucky for me, the rain finally quit enough sometime after midnight.

Morning on the banks of the Nueces River

It's downright chilly this morning. And because it takes so long for the sun to finally rise, it's hard to get motivated and out of bed. But I had a relatively short day ahead so I wasn't pressed for time. Rode into town and had breakfast at Café Falcone with the good folks from the campground. Had 'breakfast tacos'. Very, very good!

Up, down, up, down, up, down (you get the idea)

The ride to Leakey was a series of straight-line segments, but with quite a few ups and downs. Since this is the foothills, you can imagine more ups than downs. In fact, the last section seemed to follow the ridgeline. That doesn't mean flat, just that everything seemed below you.

Looks like a fast downhill into the river valley. Yee Hah!!

Since it's Saturday, I've seen a ton of motorcycle groups out, sometimes as many as a dozen. And I saw four cyclists out for the day but since they were zooming downhill, I didn't get any idea where they were from or going. One restaurant in Leakey literally was over-run with motorcycles. So I went down the street to Mama Choles. What great place, excellent Mexican food and cheap too. It was almost empty when I sat down but was completely full when I left.

The terrain changed dramatically as I began climbing again outside of town. In the next twenty miles, I don't think I rode on a single foot of straight or level pavement. Now I know why the motorcycles like this area. I know I definitely got my workout. At one of the high point rest areas, I talked a bit with a couple from Corpus Christi out here visiting a friend. Alene Burch even gave me a donation for the endowment fund.

Broke my high speed record with a relatively straight and very downhill section of road as it pub me down into the valley. 47MPH! Almost scared me, I was going so fast. As I got closer to the park entrance, I started getting nervous because of all the cars taking the same exit.

"All campsites either occupied or reserved" was the sign that greeted me as I rode to the headquarters building. "It is a three-day weekend." one ranger told me. Columbus Day, how was I to know? I'm surprised I even knew it was Saturday. The head guy took me out of ear-shot of everyone else and said not only could I camp in the day-use area, but not charge since I was doing this for charity. Cool guy!

Bigtooth Maples only grow in small protected pockets. This area, besides moderate temperatures, has abundant spring water and the limestone cliffs shield the trees from the harsh sunlight. In fact, this park gets it's heaviest use during the fall when the foliage starts changing. I'm just a bit early for that I think.

Since the park has an extensive trail system, I took a hike along the Sabinal River. After just a short while, I became nostalgic for my time hiking the Appalachian Trail. This trip has been so different than the hike. But I'm nearing the end, only ten more days.