Last weekend, we took our first camping trip to Enchanted Rock State Park. Enchanted Rock is a strange sight nestled in the heart of the hill country that begs your attention the moment it comes into view. Enchanted Rock is also known as the Main Dome and one of four exposed features of the much larger batholith that actually covers 62 square miles. This rock dome was once molten magma that formed deep beneath the surface. The Main Dome is in the company of Little Rock, Freshman Mountain, and Buzzard’s Roost.
I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve had a hard time writing about Enchanted Rock. Don’t get me wrong, the place is beautiful, rich in history, sacred. It’s just difficult to tune into that when you have less than 24 hours to shed the outside world, half of that world is with you in the same place, and your two daughters are at each other’s throats the whole time. See that picture of my girls on top of Enchanted Rock with the other dome in the distance? They are really wishing they could kill each other, and I’m thinking at that point, it might be entertaining to watch them try. Let’s just say I learned a few lessons on this trip.
Here is the first lesson. If you are seeking a powerful moment in nature away from the crowd and you are frustrated because you aren’t getting it and your kids have worn you down to a thread, the solution is not to draw the attention of the crowd by losing it at the top of a sacred rock.
On the website, they recommend visiting Enchanted Rock during the week. There is a reason. It is the same reason you will probably never go to an amusement park on Memorial Day or Labor Day Weekends. Also, our campsite was right on one of the main trails. Lesson #2: When you are checking in at park headquarters, don’t pick a campsite that appears on the map to be close to a trail no matter what the guy behind the check in desk tells you. If it appears to be close to the trail, it is. There are three primitive hike in campsites that would have been a much better option. We were short on time and opted for convenience. Which brings me to lesson #3.
I know this one already. Never, ever go camping for just one night. No matter how I try to convince myself it will be ok, there is just not enough time to make the necessary shift. It is entirely too much work and not enough time to unwind. Now, on to something a little more positive.
After a summer noted for it’s record heat and drought, with the recent rain, Sandy Creek at the base of Enchanted Rock was flowing and several waterfalls could be found flowing down Little Dome. The presence of water added a sense of balance that we had been missing for some time and I was grateful.
There is life on top of this rock dome! In spite of harsh conditions, life goes on.
The Native American tribes that inhabited the area attributed magical and spiritual powers to the rock. The Tonkowa who lived here in the sixteenth century heard unexplained creaking and groaning coming from Enchanted Rock at night. Geologists have explained this is the result of cooling and contraction of the rock at night after daytime heating by the sun. When I heard about this, I knew we had to camp here.
I’ve realized the best trips turn out to be the ones of which I have little or no expectation. I think it’s because I become more open to possibility. Lesson #4: The next time I’m expecting something close to nirvana at a sacred place, I might want to stop and reel it in to something a little more realistic. I do think I expected something powerful. I know I did. Maybe if I hadn’t been looking for what I expected, I would have found it. If anything, this trip taught me to loosen my expectations a bit. Or maybe a lot.
We didn’t experience the “voices” of the rock at night, but my youngest daughter and I did hear the coyotes howling that night. It was a first for her. I thought she might be scared, but instead, her face lit up and she said, “Now that’s cool!”