January 16, 2015 – Barton’s Bluff, Barton Creek
Weary after a day of classes, three of my friends and I decided to drive down to Barton Creek to relax and enjoy the sunshine-filled day. Upon arrival, it was astonishing to see how quickly the environment itself transitioned; here I was, surrounded by dense foliage and emerald waters, yet less than a mile away was a bustling metropolis. The weather was particularly uncharacteristic for January – 63 degrees, with a cloudless sky and a warm breeze. The further and deeper down the trail we went, the more mesmerized I became by the beauty that surrounded me: water as clear as glass, a rainbow within the stratifications of the limestone cliffs, and an ever-growing sense of serenity and positive energy. Although the water must have been close to forty degrees, I decided to venture into the Greenbelt. It was refreshing, if only for a little while. (My feet soon grew numb after five minutes of wading.) The abundance of flora was perhaps the trail’s most distinguishing feature. Trekking back, I made note of the indigo-colored juniper berries littering the ground and the occasional patch of prickly pears. With loblollies and cedars hovering above us, I was reminded of a passage from Leopold’s almanac: “Does the pine stimulate my imagination and my hopes more deeply than the birch does? If so, is the difference in the trees, or in me? The only conclusion I have ever reached is that I love all trees, but I am in love with pines.” Finally, we felt that we had exhausted our resources. The ride home was marked by an overwhelming feeling of contentment and satisfaction. I was cleansed – ready to reenter the urban jungle.
January 19 – Hamilton Pool, Dripping Springs
After having a conversation over brunch about the best swimming holes in Texas, a group of friends and I traveled to Hamilton Pool in Dripping Springs, Texas. It was a beautiful day, for lack of better words. The temperature was in the low 70s, and again, not a cloud in the sky. The drive there was a dream all in itself; lush, rolling hills, cedar wood fences, and picturesque ranches – a delightful, rustic taste of a forgotten Texas. The hike down to Hamilton Pool was short and easy – when we arrived, it felt like we were in a scene out of some fantasy sci-fi movie. The water was the color of beach glass and maidenhair ferns draped over the lip of the opening and near the rushing waterfall. Although there were maybe twenty people by the water, we were the only three stupid enough to go swimming. Of course, it was freezing, and we could only stand to be in it for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, we decided to explore the other end of the trail, where the Pedernales lay. Lined with reeds and limestone cliffs, it looked like a postcard. With dusk settling in, friends surrounding me, and a surreal sunset, it was easy to don rose-colored glasses. As we waded into the water, I was pleasantly surprised that it was significantly warmer than Hamilton Pool. We climbed onto some boulders in the middle of the riverbed, where some feeble-looking redbay saplings were sprouting through the cracks. Around closing time (5PM), we slogged back, exhausted and hungry. A vivid sky lay ahead of us as we drove home.