It sure wasn’t hard to tell we had crossed the border into Texas as we immediately found ourselves surrounded by oil refineries. At night the flames from the flare stacks created an extremely different atmosphere, especially with the moisture in the air from the gulf, creating an orange sky overhead as we worked our way through Houston. These sights didn’t last long as we moved on to Austin. Our timing couldn’t have been any better as we spent our first day exploring The Barton Creek Greenbelt just outside the city in sunny 70 degree weather, the first the city had seen in awhile after several large bouts of rain.
Conveniently we were able to leave the bus in the Walmart parking lot where we had parked the night before and mountain bike The Violet Crown trail. While trying not to injure ourselves on the wet and slick limestone covering many parts of the trail, we kept our eyes open for the rock climbing that was in the same area. After several interesting stream crossings, we found one of the rock climbing areas and decided to finish the day climbing. That seemed better than biking through high streams and on wet slick rock. We weren’t completely out of the water yet though as we had to do a hip deep river crossing to get to the bottom of the cliff. Despite all of the water, we found several fun routes which included the increased challenge of climbing on polished limestone, which at times was just about as slick as trying to climb ice with rock climbing shoes. To see more of the climbing in this area, head to the Seismic Wall on Mountain Project.
The next day we took the chance in the morning to meet up with Tyler’s friend Hava at a local coffee shop before boldly taking the bus into downtown Austin to check it out. As we were trying to keep our money spending to a minimum, we made our trip into the city quick and drove out to Camp Creek, just outside of Marble Falls, to camp for the night (If you do find yourself heading to Austin, take into consideration that the traffic can be pretty intense).That night we took advantage of the pecan trees in the campground and collected a few to put into our green beans. Tyler also thought it was a good idea to spend the night chasing the wild animals around the campground trying to capture them in a long exposure shot (You can imagine how that went...See one of many attempts at the bottom of this post). Waking up with the sun we drove over to Reimer’s Ranch to climb and mountain bike. Upon arriving we sadly learned that the mountain biking trails were closed due to the rainy weather. With that news, we got our climbing stuff together and headed down to the cliff.
As Reimer’s Ranch is only about an hour from Austin, the crag was quite busy, but we managed to get on several climbs. There are about 367 routes here in all according to Mountain Project, with pretty much all of them being sport. The cliffs were filled with all sorts of exciting features, and to our delight, this limestone was a little sharper. We started the day climbing at the Reimer's Ranch proper area, but also checked out The North Shore which is just a short drive further down the park road (but is worth it especially on the busier days). A thunderstorm rolled in just as our arms were completely shot so we headed towards Marble Falls for the night. We woke up the next morning to 30-40 MPH wind shaking the bus, so we decided to take the next day off and see a movie and catch up on some work (SPLIT was the movie and is highly recommended by us, as well as the movie theater popcorn).
After a much needed break we arrived at Enchanted Rock. The name puts it quite well as were more than enchanted driving up to the beautiful pink granite domes. We started the day climbing in Echo Canyon, where we found some epic vertical cracks which were a nice change of pace, especially after all of the limestone we had been climbing in Austin (some of the crack climbs we did in this area were Owl Crack and Orange Peel). We climbed solely on the main dome working from Echo Canyon to the backside where we finished our day on Mark of The Beast, a three pitch slab route.
The slab on the backside of the dome had us feeling like we were back home climbing at Wheeler Mountain in Vermont. We scrambled onto the summit just in time for one of the most epic of sunsets. We enjoyed some snacks consisting of granola bars and Vermont Peanut Butter before walking ourselves off the other side of the dome, back to the bus. We took advantage of the showers at the park and then drove south to The Frontier Outpost for the night (this place bleeds Texas!). We are now working our way west across Texas towards El Paso and New Mexico.
We had a great time in Texas and were able to check out some really amazing places that we had never heard of. As we head into New Mexico and Arizona we are very excited to get into some more great climbing and biking. Some of the major spots we plan to hit in the next few days are White Sands National Monument, the Cochise Stronghold and some mountain biking around Tuscon. We will hopefully run into more great spots along the way too. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to let us know by email at louis@TheAmateurAdventurers.com, or via our Facebook Page. Thanks for reading!
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