Living in Texas is hard. I love Houston, I love the food, I love the cost of living, I love Texas thunderstorms, but the location of Houston is hard. It’s built on a swamp, and there are no mountains, no real forests, no skiing, none of the things I’ve grown up with in the Adirondacks, Vermont, even New Jersey. I’ve been making a concerted effort to push myself to find those hidden gems, because in a state this big there has to be good hiking, and I’ve found a lot of it: Big Bend, Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Guadalupe Mountains, but Big Bend is the closest option there and it’s a 9 hour drive. That’s right people in the Northeast, not only did I drive 9 hours and stay in the same state, but I was only halfway across the state. So this spring is all about finding my outdoor fix in Texas without having to drive a full day. It’s going moderately well. The real impetus here, the reason this is happening now instead of me continuing to whine about hiking in Texas and then flying off to other places to hike, is that we got a dog. And Stella deserves the best hikes.
This past weekend I took Stella to Lockhart State Park. It was, as previously mentioned, a moderate success. The hiking was really lovely, but I walked the trail loop around the entire circumference of the park and it was a little under 3 miles.
But the weather was great (70 in February, one of the best parts of hiking in Texas), it was Stella’s first hike, her first cacti encounter (she handled it very well), and her first vulture encounter (fortunately from a distance). She followed it up with her first rugby game and her first beef rib (Lockhart has the best bbq in Texas, the internet and I can can both confirm this).
There’s definitely more searching to be done in my mission, and I’m bringing down some kayaks this summer to open up the coast to exploration, but Lockhart State Park gave me hope.