How to Completely Unplug Without Giving Up Technology

I usually can be seen fumbling down a trail with my phone in one hand, camera in the other, simultaneously taking Instagram videos and blog pictures. Sometimes it’s comical–shouldn’t I just be immersing myself in the moment, after all? Isn’t that why I’m here?!

Photo credit: www.tintrunksafari.com

(Hashtag, nature!)

Truly disconnecting from urban life is difficult. As much as we would love to turn our phones off, the truth is we have appointments and emails and people whose happiness and hunger levels depend on us. And even when we do set aside time away from all those distractions, isn’t it OK for us to get our phones out and capture those perfect Instagram-worthy images? (I say, heck yeah.) So the question is, How to you immerse yourself in the beauty and peace of the natural world while also not totally disconnecting? When is it OK to have your phone out?

Here is what outdoor bloggers and Whit’s Wilderness readers have to say.


Set boundaries

It’s all about balance. If you have a clear understanding of what you’re wanting to get from your time in nature you can make a more conscious decision about what roll technology will play. Whatever you decide just decide it on purpose! – Noel Stacey, My Wild Kitchen www.mywildkitchen.com


Put it on Silent

I take mine with me for photos or emergencies and leave it on airplane mode – I believe there should never be ringtones or music blasting in nature – if people want to listen to music or podcasts that’s cool, just bring headphones. – Mallory Moskowitz www.youradventurecoach.com

I always have it on silent. I agree the phone shouldn’t have ring tones blasting. I go to nature for peace not to hear a phone ringing. – Heather Smith Www.thewanderinghippie42.wordpress.com

 


Keep it out for the photos

We put our phones on airplane mode to conserve battery and to keep from being interrupted while trying to enjoy our time outside, but we usually have them in our pockets for easy access picture taking and in case of an emergency. Our phones take pretty great quality shots and with them safely in their Otterboxes, I’m not as worried about the elements (like rain here in the Pacific Northwest) as I would be with our DSLR camera. – Katie English, www.homesick-wanderlust.com

When we go hiking, we typically don’t have cell service, so my phone is simply my camera. It fits in my pocket and is easy to take out anytime! But when we reach the summit, I get out the “real” camera. – Karen Ung www.playoutsideguide.com


Track your mileage

I normally leave my phone on airplane mode and have it for emergencies. There are times that I do use it to track my mileage, but other than that, it stays in my pack. — Magretha Palepale www.thecluelesswandererblog.com

When I am outdoors in the countryside my phone is typically on in my pocket with tracking on. Used mainly as a safety, and occasionally comes out for a picture or two 🙂 – Alice Horwood https://www.alicehorwood.co.uk


Take it for safety

I take my phone with me. In fact, I have a portable charger in my hunting/hiking pack. The main reason is for safety. Even hunting on a private ranch or hiking at a state park you can take the closeness of civilization for granted. In a life or death situation (for example: rattlesnake bite, heat stroke, etc.) the use of a cell phone is so important to getting the care and help needed. And it may not be for you- you may find someone in a predicament who needs your help. I especially to take pictures of my friends sleeping on wildflower hillsides waiting for turkey…but ultimately it is a safety issue and that is the number one reason to always have a phone! 😉 — Kristin (one of my hunting buddies!) www.anxioushunter.wordpress.com


Use it for navigation

I go into the wilderness to get away from that kind of stuff. The only exception for me is when I am hiking a long PCT section where the navigational apps are sometimes helpful (but not a sub for map/compass). I have a regular camera that I don’t have to worry about dropping/breaking/getting submerged. It’s all about being disconnected for me. — Mary Emerick http://mountainsskin.blogspot.com

 


Use it to engage your kids in nature

I love handing it to my 3 year old to see what captures his eye. – Kathy Dalton www.facebook.com/goadventuremom

Years ago we took books and etch a sketch to keep kids entertained while we waited in the deer blind. Now, just give them a phone and they will sit for hours. It’s hard to play the cloud game on a clear day. — Warren Blesh, Whit’s Wilderness blog reader


Whit’s Wilderness Readers Weigh In

I always have it handy because my hiking buddy tends to not have space available on her phone for pics… just sayin’! 🙂 — my husband, who nearly ALWAYS has to cover for me when I run out of space!

I take mine. I use the GPS to track my route and the camera for photos. It’s in airplane mode, so even if I could get a call or text, I wouldn’t hear it. — Michelle

It depends! I take it on hikes for pictures, sometimes to write notes. But I leave it at the cabin when I go hunting. — Liz

I take mine. I enjoy taking pictures. — Maria

I have my phone, because there is a great chance I’ll get lost. — Chelsie

I leave mine.. the less people that can reach me when I’m out… The better! — Amanda

I take mine with me for pics and safety. Not for texts and calls unless it’s a work day. — Megan

I take it for the camera! — Charlotte Mitchell

I take mine. — Jill

I take it with me 🙂 — Carmiñia

I bring it, mainly because I have teens who are usually home alone. I don’t use it, but I like knowing I have it. — Tara Schatz


Let’s just say, I saw the previews for 127 Hours and I will NOT be going out without a phone any time soon. And you guys know I love my Instagram shots!

What are your thoughts?

The Hills Are Alive in Madera Canyon, West Texas

If you want to have a Sound of Music moment in Texas, this is your place! It is located in West Texas near Fort Davis in a preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy and the panoramic views of the Davis mountains are stunning!

Trail

The trail is 2.5 miles, easy, and only partly uphill. The best part is that it forms a loop so you never see the same thing twice. It starts out flat and crosses a creek, then heads uphill. You can hike the entire thing in a couple hours.

Picnic Area

The tables are huge and its a very low trafficked area so plan to bring a picnic and relax after your hike.

Location

Just past the McDonald Observatory on Highway 118, about 24 miles northwest of Fort Davis. You may feel a little lost, but just be on the lookout for the Lawrence E. Wood Picnic Area signs and a string of picnic tables visible on the side of the road.

Kids

Carry little ones in a child carrier like this one on Amazon, or plan to only go to the first overlook. A 7 year old or above could do the whole loop.

What to Wear

You will need a hat, hiking shorts, low top hiking shoes, and an equipped day pack (<– click here to see my recommended packing list). Here’s my recommendation:

Favorite Part

The views. Nearly every overlook was spectacular, and the mountainsides were covered in pines.

Least Favorite Part

The pond we hiked to was a little underwhelming. Don’t expect some glacial lake here!

Things to Know and Important Links

More pics

Fun times! Hope y’all get to enjoy it soon. Happy hiking!

The Perfect Girls Weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains

This weekend I went to visit my friend Ha in the little hillside town she calls home of Black Mountain, North Carolina. It’s a burg on the outskirts of Asheville in the heart of Appalachian mountain territory. Ha kept telling me, “Whitney, you have got to come see the hiking here, it’s amazing!”

Well, if I must!

If you’re curious about the Appalachian mountains and want a weekend away in a peaceful pocket of our country then this is a great spot to go, especially with your girlfriends!

Wait, a hiking and outdoorsy vacay with my girlfriends?? But they aren’t outdoorsy.

This is enjoyable by even those who aren’t super outdoorsy. The ease of the hiking trails and accessibility by car is a huge point in its favor, and then the exquisiteness of the Biltmore Estate adds that refined element that makes for a perfect girls weekend. Trust me!

Blue Ridge Parkway

First thing in the morning, we headed out on the Blue Ridge Parkway, an iconic roadway built during the Great Depression as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal.

It winds through the mountains, taking you around gorgeous scenic overlooks and sun dappled forests.

The road heads northeast for several hundred miles and covers some of the best terrain Appalachia has to offer. You could spend a week exploring it all.

The mist and cloud cover made the views even more dramatic and I was completely in awe.

(PS. I love it when scenic destinations are accessible by car!!)

One good place to get out and hike is Craggy Gardens Visitor Center and Craggy Pinnacle Trail, which is just my cup of tea–easy, short, scenic, and lined with flowers.

The overlooks are fantastic.

The Appalachian mountains are much older than the Rockies and are softer, lower, and more undulating than the rough crags and sheer exposed rock you might be used to seeing in other parts of our country. Appalachian scenery is so much greener too.

A hum of bumble bees accompanied us up the mountain. They were loving all of the flowering plants!

The Biltmore

After Craggy Gardens, we hit the Biltmore, a beautiful estate built back in the late 1800’s by the Vanderbilt family. If you are wanting your fairy tale moment, here it is.

The Biltmore is one beautiful swirl of Downton Abbey, Beauty and the Beast, the Great Gatsby, and Versailles–all set to the stunning backdrop of the wild Blue Ridge mountains.

Today the estate consists of 8,000 acres of rolling hills, meadows, pine forest, and creeks and rivers. The landscape was designed by the same man who designed Central Park, so even in places where mother nature’s handiwork wasn’t great on its own, the scenery was adjusted to be perfect.

There is a resort on the grounds and plenty of outdoor activities, from biking trails to an equestrian center and sporting clay shooting.

The view from the veranda is the part worth waiting for–over 87,000 acres of pristine Blue Ridge mountains stretch out before you and the blue hue of their slopes explains immediately how the mountains got their name.

And the land is protected in perpetuity. Early in the 1900’s, Edith Vanderbilt sold 87,000 acres of their land to the government to form what is now the Pisgah National Forest.

I LOVED the gun room in the Biltmore and am definitely saving this photo for inspiration…

Here’s just a few more snaps from the inside of this gorgeous manse…

Black Mountain, NC

The next day we drowned our sorrows in the world’s largest cinnamon roll and a chicken biscuit from Blue Ridge Biscuit Company.

Also loved the charming little coffee shop, the Dripolator.

The town of Black Mountain is charming. The storefronts are brick, the homes are all perfectly maintained with darling wraparound porches and hydrangea bushes out front, and it’s one of the few places left where you feel like time actually slows down. I got the sense I could leave my car unlocked and be just fine. Ha put it well when she said she felt like she has relaxed ever since leaving Austin and moving here. Even though I only spent 36 hours in the place, I felt recharged and reset!

I would recommend two to four full days for this vacation, not including travel time. There are a lot of stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway I have yet to see.

Thanks Ha for the fantastic visit. You’re the best friend a girl could ask for!

More deets on the Blue Ridge Mountains coming up soon, stay tuned.

The Most Scenic Trail in Davis Mountains State Park

This is my favorite hike in Davis Mountains State Park, by a long shot. Lots of great panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, and the trail is wide and flat at many places. Not to mention, the reward at the end is definitely worth it!

If you’ve hiked it before, let me know in the comments!

Skyline Drive Trail

  • Maps at end of this post
  • Distance: 2.6 miles but with shortcut options
  • Perks: Excellent panoramic views, with Indian Lodge and McDonald Observatory in the distance, scenic picnic tables. mostly flat or downill terrain (so much better than hiking uphill, am I right?!)
  • Challenges: The terrain is mostly flat or downhill, but the surface of the trail is rocky in some areas. It proved difficult for our 3 year old and 1.5 year old nieces.
  • Rock “fortress” at CCC overlook that is wildly popular with kids
  • Recommended for kids 5+ or that you can carry on your back

Best Part of the Trail

The best part of the trail is the segment between the two scenic overlooks. It has varied terrain, panoramic views, and great rewards at each end of the trail with the scenic vistas!

 

Route Option 1: Recommended Option

The best scenario is to have two cars or someone willing to drop you off at the easternmost parking area on the top of the mountain, so you can hike down to the campsites. This is great because it is all downhill!

There is plenty to look at for miles around.

 

Route Option 2: Shorter, Good with kids 5+

Drive to the first parking area you come to at the top of the mountain and hike to the CCC overlook at the easternmost parking area. Have a picnic or break here, and then hike back. This is about 1 mile round trip.

Route Option 3: Slightly more challenging version

Only because it involves going uphill to the top and then retracing your steps back downhill.

That said, if you get up early in the morning when the weather is nice and cool I could see this being a great work out with a very rewarding ending of easy hiking downhill!

Round Trip: 5.4 mi

You will start at the trailhead near the Interpretive Center (shown on map) and follow Skyline Drive up to the scenic overlooks for 2.6 miles.

 

What You Will Love

The ample photo opportunities.

The picnic areas by the scenic overlooks.

The breeze at the top of the hill and being up there with your loved ones!

What Kids Will Love

The tower at the end of the trail.

I don’t know what the CCC thought this would be used for when they built it back in the 1930’s, but let me tell you — today it is the prime place for little kids with imaginations to play princess, house, or cowboys and Indians. If Rapunzel didn’t let down her hair from a place like this, then I don’t know what she did. It did not surprise me that by the time my husband and I arrived after our hike, my nieces had already taken command of the “castle” and we had to gain admission by pretending to be magical visitors from a distant land.

We thoroughly enjoyed our hike on Skyline Drive Trail and bet you will too! Happy hiking, ladies.

 

9 Reasons to Visit LBJ Ranch and State Park

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and historic site while en route to Fredericksburg. It was so cute and worth the stop! I am glad to finally know the charming park behind the gates.

This ranch is where former President Lyndon B. Johnson was born and lived most of his life. I love that both President Johnson and former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson were advocates for the environment, and no doubt their childhood in the scenic Texas Hill Country was a huge reason for their love of the land. As First Lady, Lady Bird used her platform to promote the restoration of native landscapes across America, and President Johnson brought to pass many of the environmental policies we still have today. And in typical American fashion, they led a quaint little small town life, which you can see at the park.

Here’s what I loved:

1. It’s Free!

Woo hoo!

2. Nearby there is plenty of nice lodging.

This is quick trip from Austin or San Antonio and the area is known for its charming B&B’s. Check out this website for more info!

3. You’ll get the Texas ranch experience.

Without having to shovel manure or clean dead rats out of a barn! Cows, barns, old ranch structures, white picket fences, tall oak trees, and acres upon acres of rolling hills greet you as you drive around. This ranch is also home to part of the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd. Because this is Texas, y’all, and we have an official longhorn herd.

4. It’s next to 2 of Texas’ best state parks.

You can hit the trifecta of Hill Country Parks on your trip to this area. Pedernales Falls State Park and Enchanted Rock State Park are both within a half hour. If you’re a Texan, and you haven’t been to Enchanted Rock or Pedernales, you need to get in the car now!!

Enchanted Rock State Park

5. Extremely kid friendly–all trails are stroller friendly and the rest can be seen from the car!

I loved being able to see the highlights from my vehicle…the air conditioning and music was so nice.

6. Pretty views of the Pedernales River.

Perfect for a dip or for the fishermen and women in your crew.

7. Lots to do in the area.

If you like shopping, cute B&B’s, or brunch, then you are in luck! (And we need to be friends.) Nearby is Johnson City, a charming little town with a market and restaurants. Fredericksburg is just thirty minutes away and has lots of good shops and eateries as well, like the Fredericksburg Herb Farm (their brunch is fantastic.) And a discussion of Hill Country sites wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the area’s famous wineries and Texas Wine Trail! Get your nature fix at the park and then go find an excuse to dress up in Fredericksburg.

8. Great wildlife and wildflowers.

I saw bison, axis, butterflies, and tons of wildflowers. If you need pics in the wildflowers, this is your place. Heaven!

9. An Interesting Dose of History

The lessons that stick with us are ones which we relate to–that affected us, involved us, or told stories of people like us. Seeing President Johnson’s humble beginnings on a Texas ranch, and learning about his Presidency from that perspective, is an enriching history lesson. If you want your kids to learn about American history or political science, why not take them to see the country home of one of two Presidents from Texas? They will see how someone from a simple life grew up to be a great President and what could be a better lesson than that?

10. Lovely picnic area.

The picnic area has plenty of tables and room to spread out, so if you are looking for a fun lunch stop on your way to Fredericksburg then stop here.

Important Links

Field Fashion Friday: A Cute Hiking Outfit!

I don’t have to tell y’all twice that  outdoor clothing often looks masculine, isn’t cut right for a woman’s body, and isn’t useful anywhere other than the trail or camp site. Fortunately the tide is starting to turn, just slightly, in our direction but there is still a long way to go.

That is why I love these shorts–they defy all the traditional rules of outdoor clothing by being feminine, versatile enough to wear for activities other than just hiking, but also high performance enough to tough it on the trail with you. Because we women aren’t wallflowers, we hike many miles and need gear that can keep up.

Comes in a number of colors including charcoal and black.

No surprise this is by one of my favorite outdoor clothing brands, prAna!

Would look cute with the Kora top…

Happy hiking, ladies. I know you will enjoy these!!

How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Enchanted Rock

This is part of my Girl’s Guide to Enchanted Rock series! Be sure to check out the other posts in this category before planning your trip.

Ladies, Enchanted Rock is a place you will love. I bet many of y’all have been there already and can surely attest to what I’m saying! You may think you have seen the best of Texas — but until you are standing on top of this rock, soaking in the 360-degree panorama of the Hill Country and enjoying a cool morning breeze, you don’t know how magnificent our state can be.

This park is truly a gem.

Here are some pointers for making the most of your visit!

Best Time of Year to Go

WILFLOWER SEASON! Late February through mid April – the last weekend in March was peak wildflower season this year and the weather was perfect.

NOTE: This is also Spring Break so it is insanely busy…just be sure you are there early in the AM for a day hike or have a camp site reservation.

Best Trails to Hike

When to Book a Campsite

  • For March: book by April of the previous year
  • For other times of the year: 10 months in advance

How to Book a Campsite

What Camp Sites Are Like

  • Walk in campsites recommended (break down of available sites here)
  • Each walk-in campsite has a shelter, picnic table, post for hanging your trash/food/lantern, a fire ring, and a charcoal grill
  • FYI not all the campsites are right next to the cars – you have to walk a little ways (about a quarter of a mile) to them
  • The campsites are VERY secluded which is nice!

  • They are not large, and can only fit 2 6-person tents so if you plan on going with a group or family, reserve 2 campsites and arrive early enough to get them together
  • You will be assigned campsites upon arrival so if you want pick of the litter, get there early.
  • Campsite 22 is awesome!!
  • 30 is impossible to find
  • 29 – 32 are really close together and not as scenic, I do not recommend. However if you have a large group these are great because they are very close together!

 

Suggested Itinerary

Friday

  • 2pm park arrival and check in
  • Afternoon – campsite set up, short hike before sunset on the loop trail to the frontside trail (described in this post)
  • Evening – Build a fire, cook dinner, hang out around the camp fire and ROAST S’MORES!!!
  • Late night stargazing before bed!

Saturday

  • Sunrise hike to the top via Summit Trail
  • Explore Loop Trail on the way back to the camp site
  • Big brunch
  • Post-breakfast s’mores because, why not?
  • Relax around camp
  • Late afternoon hike or fishing in Moss Lake
  • Cook dinner on the Dutch oven
  • Campfire stories

Sunday

  • Another sunrise hike or fishing excursion (or sleep in!)Pack up the campsite and headed home

Alternative 1-night Itinerary

Saturday

  • Noon picnic in Fredericksburg (at Marketplatz in center of town)
  • 2pm check in and campsite set up
  • Afternoon – short hike
  • Evening – relax around campsite, cook dinner and make s’mores!

Sunday

  • Sunrise hike to top
  • Take Echo Canyon and Loop trail on route back to camp site
  • Lunch
  • Pack up camp site and head home

Alternative Non-Camping Itinerary

Spend the weekend in a Bed & Breakfast in the Fredericksburg area and do an early morning day hike Saturday or Sunday at Enchanted Rock! Spend the rest of your time shopping in Fredericksburg’s charming shops, eating good food, and driving around to see the wildflowers.

Official Park Webpage

Getting There

Here’s the Google Map to it: https://goo.gl/maps/mre61PrqB4Q2

  • From Austin: 1.5 hours — I recommend taking 290 on the way there and 71 on the way back, for a nice change of scenery
  • From San Antonio: 1.5 hours via I-10 to Hwy 87
  • From Dallas: 4 hours via Hwy 281
  • From Houston: 4 hours via I-10 to 290

Other things to do in the area

Other Notes and Tips

  • You can buy firewood there for $6 a bundle
  • No dogs on summit trail (Boo! No fun! So lame!) — dogs are allowed on other trails, however.
  • Arrival time: 2pm is check in but it is good to be there early for prime pick of campsites

Hope you enjoy your visit and have a fabulous time! If you have tips you want to share, leave them in the comments. We are fortunate to have such a stunning place in Texas, and it is definitely worth the drive.


Other posts in A Girl’s Guide to Enchanted Rock series:

The 3 Best Hiking Trails of Enchanted Rock

Hello y’all! As you may have read yesterday, I just returned from a fun weekend of camping at Enchanted Rock and wanted to share with you the trails we hiked and loved. I hope you try them too.

If you have not been to Enchanted Rock, or if the last time you went was gradeschool (ahem), you need to get out there. It is such a beautiful place and I don’t think I appreciated it as much as it deserved when I was little. We are so fortunate to have this natural feature right here in Texas.

Read about my ladies camping trip at Enchanted Rock here.

Note: all of these trails are better seen in spring time when the wildflowers are blooming!

Summit Trail

Obviously, the first and most important trail to mention is the Summit Trail, which takes you to the top of the dome!

This is the most stunning part of your park experience — the pièce de résistance. Being up there is a wonderful feeling I think all Texans should experience.

Best time to go: Sunrise, when there are fewer people and the breeze is cool. This requires camping overnight in the park, which I highly recommend. Alternatively you could go about an hour before sunset and watch the sun sink below the horizon!

(Is this why they call our state “God’s Country”?!)

Difficulty: moderate. The trail is steep, however it is only 20 minutes long.

Distance: 20 minutes, 1 mile to summit

Bring some binocs and plan to sit up there for a spell and enjoy the view. There’s no place like it in Texas!

FYI: No dogs allowed (“Lame,” says Trooper.)

Echo Canyon Trail

This juts off from Summit Trail and is a fun addition to the summit trail as you are coming back down. Hang a right on your way down at the Echo Trail sign, and the trail will lead you down a valley, beside boulders, and to Moss Lake. From the far side of the lake, you can get beautiful pictures of Enchanted Rock!

Be Aware: Echo Canyon is for sure-footed folks, as it requires balance and stability as you make your way down through the small canyon. It doesn’t require any rock climbing — just a helping hand from a hiking buddy every now and then!

Best time to go: on your way down from Enchanted Rock

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 0.67 mi

Loop Trail

I LOVED Loop Trail!! Personally this was my favorite, 2nd only to the Summit Trail. This was nice, wide, flat, and downhill. (Downhill?! Yes please.) It also affords you dozens of panoramic hill country views, pink granite boulders, wildflowers (in Spring), and a scenic overlook to stop at. I definitely recommend this one!

Best time to go: Any time is good, but I recommend making a loop with Echo Trail and Summit Trail.

Difficulty: easy

Distance: it depends — the entire loop is 4.25 miles but the section we did, from Moss Lake to the trailhead on the southern end of the park is only about 1.8 miles.

Connecting Trail to Frog Pond

This is shorter and still very scenic – we spent about 45 minutes exploring this area but could have spent longer. Tall oak trees, gorgeous wildflowers, rolling hills, and creeks all grace the area and it makes for a very lovely jaunt!

Loop trail intersects here – not to be confused!

Oh, Texas, just STOP! You so pretty!!!

Gorgeous.

Difficulty: easy

Distance: 0.57 miles; 1.12 if you take the Frontside trail back to the trail head

Enchanted Rock is one of my favorite hiking experiences in Texas – the trails are just the right length, the scenery is jaw-dropping, and when everything is covered in spring green and wildflowers it’s simply divine.

GO!!! Do it! Please, for me. Make a reservation. You will not regret it!

A Girl’s Getaway to Enchanted Rock

This is the story from our camping trip — tips for visiting the park to come next, stay tuned.

This past weekend I took a group of girls on a camping trip at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and we had so much fun!! If you have never been to this park before, you should stop what you’re doing and make a reservation.

Enchanted Rock is like a mini-Yosemite National Park – a smaller, pinker, Texas version of one of our greatest national park.  Yosemite is known for its rolling rocky slopes and waterfalls; Enchanted Rock has its own rolling hills of pink granite.

The landscape is varied – canyons one minute, summit views the next, and lakeside paths the next.

Except we have bluebonnets! Take that Yosemite…

En route to the park, we stopped in Fredericksburg for a picnic of caprese sandwiches and Thai chicken salad were on the menu! Only the best for these girls.

My goal is to show ladies that the outdoors can be fun, and inspire their appreciation for conserving nature here in Texas and around the world. So to me, every detail that makes our time outdoors better is important, down to the fresh mozzarella!

(Texas was REALLY helping me out by putting on a show of native wildflowers – WOW.)

One of the girls had never been camping before, so I was crossing my fingers she had fun. She is the last person you would think of as an outdoorsy person, but I’ve been working on her over the last few years!! Mwahaha.

The camp sites at Enchanted Rock are very secluded — so secluded in fact, that they can be hard to find, and finding ours was kind of an ordeal!

But that was a good thing. It was nice to feel like we were out in the middle of nowhere: just us, nature, and as many comforts of home as we could fit in our vehicles.

(Including this awesome folding hammock!)

The campsite may not have had running water or electricity but it did come with our own private pink granite hill and wildflowers pouring out of nooks and crannies.

Thanks to the seclusion, our neighbors were spared them from hearing our renditions of “Get low”, the “Star spangled banner”, “Texas Our Texas”, and many stories which will not be repeated on this blog.

What happens at Enchanted stays at Enchanted…

I did a little bit of Dutch oven cooking for dinner – Southwest cornbread and apple cobbler. It hit the spot!

Despite a middle of the night adventure that involved wild animals (story coming soon) we enjoyed an incredible starry sky and a good night’s sleep. We woke up early the following morning to take on the main point of our whole trip: hiking to the top of Enchanted Rock!

We headed out around 7:30, coffee in hand, just as the sun was rising, to be some of the first people on the top.

The temperature was still in the low 60’s and the morning sun was causing the granite to come alive in hues of pink, orange, and red. There was hardly a cloud in the sky so it glowed electric blue.

With the sun peeking through the bluebonnets and the pink granite as a backdrop, I felt like I was living in a travel magazine – or Heaven itself. I took photos but there is nothing like the experience of seeing it for yourself.

The hike to the top was pretty much straight up, and we felt the burn in our legs. But fortunately we didn’t suffer long – only about 20 minutes to the top!

We were rewarded with an endless panorama of the Texas Hill Country. We could see birds soaring over the surrounding hills at the same elevation as us, so it was truly like having a bird’s eye view of Texas.

I think we all enjoyed the tranquility of the moment and having the place to ourselves.

On the way home we took the Echo Canyon and Loop Trails, which were incredible and led us through a canyon and beside a lake, past hundreds of bluebonnets, buttercups, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers and more panoramic hill country views.

I would totally recommend these trails on your next visit!

I am proud to report my friend Katherine, the one who had never camped, not only survived her first weekend of camping but had fun! Or maybe she’s just telling me that…either way, I appreciate the grace.

The cap on our fabulous weekend was breakfast sandwiches on Texas toast and s’mores! The girls went to town with s’more combinations and ended up coming up with a new one: Croissant strawberry Nutella s’mores, which they report are amazing.

Perfect weekend in the books.

Thanks to all the ladies who came and made this camp out so fun, thanks to our park system for this amazing park, thanks to God for wildflowers, and thanks readers for coming back to the blog! Hope everyone has a nice week and I can’t wait to tell you more about this park in upcoming posts!

Stay tuned for:

  • The Best Trails of Enchanted Rock
  • Tips for Planning Your Visit and Suggested Itinerary
  • A Camping Menu for Enchanted Rock

XOXO

Ps. Affiliate links used.

Field Fashion Friday: Wild Rose Camo Top

For what seems like my entire life as a hunter, I’ve been wondering one question when it comes to women’s field attire: Why is there not a feminine camo print on the market?

It’s as if there is some law that states we all have to wear Real Tree or Mossy Oak camo, and I’m not a huge fan.

 

Finally, a camo print has come along that’s covered in roses, and simply beautiful.

Lindsey Gates, founder of Wild Rose Apparel is the woman behind this. I love it because I can wear more places than just the deer blind, like a day on the ranch, camping, or with a cute vest in town.

You can purchase it here:

This material is so light and breezy, it definitely has Texas women in mind. She’s putting this camo on lots more products coming up and I can’t wait to see them all.

Three cheers for better looking women’s field clothes!