Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Caching Down to San Anton.....io

I've been working on two Geocaching challenges lately, one is the Texas County Challenge which is a long term goal and would be amazing to accomplish. To complete it you need to find a cache in all 254 counties which equates to several thousand miles of total driving I suspect. After this past weekend's trip I sit at 114 counties completed. The counties we visited this time were Val Verde, Edwards, Kinney, Real, Uvalde, Bandera, and Medina.

This is also the second year for the Texas State Parks Challenge which hides caches at most of the Texas State Parks and administrated areas. We visited Seminole Canyon and Garner State Parks, and Hill Country Preservation Area on this trip.

In Seminole we hiked the Rim Trail and the Windmill Trail which give great views of the canyon. Unfortunately our timetable did not allow us to stay for the ranger led tour of the pictographs but I would like to visit again for that experience. Seminole is not a large park in terms of the paved "tourist" area but with miles and miles of back country trails to the Rio Grande, it is worth the visit even in the remote location. It appeared to have very nice RV and tent pads.

I am told Garner State Park is best known for its access to the Frio River, and that in summer months it can be so busy that they actually close the gate to hold attendance to a certain number. Even on a cool winter day the river was very active with families fishing in the dam pools. We hiked up one of the cave trails and the terrain surprised me as it quickly becomes a matter of finding foot holds and climbing up steep limestone ledges. Which are also the reason for the great caves found in this area. They have a mountain (hill) named Baldy which looked like it would have one heck of a vista, we even saw tiny dots of hikers up there, but once again that is a hike for another day.

The last area was Hill Country Preservation Area. I was amazed at how large this area was and it is so tucked away that you really have to be looking for it to know it is there. But once you arrive, you find an area very much designed for both hikers and equestrians. The horse trails and ranch were very popular when we were there. Also even though we seemed fairly isolated when driving down the parks roads we arrived to a hiker parking lot with twenty cars in it! People were dressed in trail running outfits that looked as if they were in a city park for a short jog, but where could they be from? There are no large towns nearby so this secret seems to be out that Hill Country is a fantastic place for a day trip hike. There are also many back country camp sites and primitive sites for camping. One funny thing we noted in the area is that the locals seem to be trying to put a run on the local coyote population. We saw many fences decorated like the one below. A strange habit.

Sunday we took it a little more easy and visited the San Antonio Zoo. This was my first time and I was impressed by the presentation and condition of the facility, especially considering it will celebrated its 100th anniversary in March of 2014.

There is already construction under way for a large new area to celebrate the centennial but the rest of the park shows that they are constantly working to maintain and improve the living conditions of the animals and the way visitors interact with them. The animals seemed very happy in their enclosures and the staff was very helpful in interpreting the exhibits. I can't wait to visit again.