Exploring Mission Tejas State Park Part I
Oak mistletoe, Phoradendron leucarpum, I think!
American Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana
Texas Bull Nettle, Cnidoscolus texanus
Before we arrived at the state park that last weekend in October, Chris had noted that there was some kind of trail run going on in the park. I was a little surprised considering the park isn’t huge, but after looking at the park map and seeing that it was adjacent to a Davy Crockett National Forest tract I knew that there was much more here to be explored.
The park was very busy when we checked in and we were unable to get to our campsite right away. It had taken us around two hours or so to get to the park, a much quicker drive than we had estimated. And we’d come up on a Saturday morning instead of a Friday so I was worried that we wouldn’t feel as if we’d spent a lot of time at the park due to only camping for one night. Getting there well before lunch that day stretched the hours out, especially since we weren’t at our campsite until later that day.
Much of the overflow parking was taken and runners were camping in a group designated area as well as within the main campground itself. The campground isn’t that large, with only fifteen typical campsites you’d see at a state park, but there were multiple tents and groups at each site. Much smaller than the average Texas State Park. That said, it was jam packed with runners and other campers who’d managed to get a reservation before the event.
We started off by heading to the playground for Forest because the kid can identify playgrounds a mile away. The playground boasted a digging/scooping toy that you sat on and manipulated the handles to move gravel or dirt around, or in this case the recycled rubber that made up the bottom of the playground. Forest bounced from toy to toy and attempted to make friends with a few other kids before Chris and I tried to pull him away for a hike.
Crossing the dam for the pond, we weaved our way up the slopes of the forest, sharing the trail with runners on their multi-K loops. The weekend was glorious, a beautiful fall October weekend with clear skies and lots of golden sunshine. Overhead a helicopter swirled, coming to fetch a runner in need of medical attention. We never found out what happened. The trails we ended up following weren’t really on the map but we ended up finding the park boundary trail and coming to a dirt road before turning back around.
On our way back we stopped at the pond and noticed a snake swimming from one bank to the next. We couldn’t convince Forest to investigate what kind of snake it was when it reached its shoreline destination. The playground was beckoning again!
Eventually we did make it to our campsite, at the 2pm check-out time when the other campers were supposed to leave. We ended up making lunch at the picnic tables at the playground instead of where we intended at the old CCC shelter because a Model A club had reserved it for a lunch get together. Seriously, this park was packed that afternoon and it is in the middle of nowhere East Texas! Forest did get a kick out of seeing the old cars, though!
At the campsite most of the campers had left but there was only small backpacking tent left off to the side and a cooler. It was clear that person was still running. After talking to the park ranger we decided we would just set up camp and move the cooler to their tent and sure enough an hour later the runner finally arrived.
I have more photos from other parts of the park that I’ll share throughout the rest of the week!
Patrice La Vigne
I am longing to get out in nature … hopefully in January!