It’s been a long time since I have categorized something as a Local Adventure, though I have had other blog entries that might have been written as such. I decided this hiking trip should be labelled as a Local Adventure and so here we go!
After having quite a busy and hot summer (when is it never hot in Texas during the summer?) Chris and I sat down and planned out a pretty full autumn and early winter, filled with camping trips and other excursions. We have a lot on our plate at home, too, with general yard and house chores. Sometimes, a lot of the time, I tend to get overwhelmed with not having enough downtime on the weekend to catch up from the week. This is heightened now that Forest is being more difficult to get to sleep in the at night as I tend to lose a lot of time in the evenings that I would otherwise dedicate to random chores or personal time.
I was feeling that this weekend, the over-planning stress, when Chris said he wanted to go for a hike on Sunday morning. I had agreed to it on Friday night but by Saturday the weight of reality was hitting me. We still ended up going on the hike, which I am grateful that we did, but I still feel a little frazzled about getting it all done here on the flip-side of the weekend.
Nevertheless, it was a great hike out in Sam Houston National Forest on a portion of the Lone Star Trail we hadn’t been on. The map for the section we hiked is here. We started the trail just west of the junction of FS 271 and FS 204 and parked at a makeshift hunter’s camp on FS 271 (Kelly’s Pond Road), just across from the trail.
We left the house too early for Forest to have breakfast so he had a little bit to eat at our parking spot before we left.
After we got going on the trail it was evident that we were going to have quite a bit of a showing wildflower-wise. There were lots of wonderful plants in bloom for an almost fall morning.
Forest did great in the backpack, though this time we had to be extra careful he didn’t grab handfuls of plants as we walked through thicker sections. Being in an area with yaupon holly (it isn’t called Ilex vomitoria for nothing!) and other potential poisonous plants, we didn’t need him to decide he wanted to taste test the forest offerings!
We crossed several drainages that were fairly well-maintained with either stairs or bridges. The maintenance of the trail itself in this section was pretty good though it was evident that it wasn’t always well traveled. Grass grew high in a few areas whereas other parts of the trail looked like it had traffic more often.
We found a few of these compact Ruellia humilis (that’s what I’m going with, I don’t think it is R. caroliniensis) on the edge of a piepline clearing. I have always loved the native versions of Ruellia. You’ve probably seen the highly invasive garden variety, Mexican petunia.
I believe these are Lobelia spicata, a purple/blue form. The Lady Bird Wildflower Center suggested that the coloration can be highly variable and Google images is showing mostly white flowering types.
We were nearing our time for a break and a turn-around point when we came to this dry creek bed lined with Lobelia cardinalis. It was very gorgeous sight to behold and was enough for us to decide to stop. I wished I had my good camera at this point but we only had the point and shoot. Maybe we’ll keep this in mind for this time next year!
After a short break we turned around and headed back for the car. In all it was about 5 miles and a 2 hour hike. When we started out the morning was cool and pleasant but by the time we were back at the car it was quite warm and humid once again. We’re not quite there with cool temperatures yet, just a tease here and there.
Forest fell asleep on the way back! All in all this was a great section of the trail to explore and I definitely recommend it during this time of year, especially for the flowers! On the our hike we spotted the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, I nearly stepped on a black racer snake that was sunning itself partly in the trail, and we really rattled a raccoon hiding on a log next to the trail. Not bad for wildlife sightings!