Approaching January 1st last year, I imagined a quick backpacking adventure as a good way to start 2016. Long overdue, a few days were actually required to even locate my small pile of outdated gear, then methodically load it into an old frame pack. After the 31st, Penny and I woke early and aimed the truck for Johnson City, gateway to the Texas hill country. Robinson Road leads from there to a State Park that celebrates a quiet tributary of the Guadalupe River. That modest creek has earnestly carved through eons of dinosaur-aged limestone, and still cascades over balconies of smoothed bedrock in sheetflow, before evening out into a shallow bed of bright sand and gravel. Those sloped “falls” are deceptively powerful, making them closed for wading year round, while lower sections are crystal clear following springtime floods and perfectly shallow for lounging. We’d stay to the uplands most of that weekend though, near the springs. A mile past the rumble of a cattle guard, we turned into a striped lot at Park Headquarters.
“The Visitor Center’s bustling today. I wonder why?” Penny stretched her legs as I rambled toward registration. The aura of those cabins always reminds me of a mountain lodge. It’s something about the hospitality of it all.
“Welcome to Pedernales Falls,” the bright Ranger smiled, “Do you have reservations? Will you be staying overnight? Do you know about the interpreted First Day Hike leaving the Wolf Mountain trailhead in 45 minutes.”
Aha, that explains the crowd, and sounds oddly familiar too. A recent article announced those New Year’s Day hikes as part of a nationwide campaign. Wait, did their propaganda actually work on me, ha! A couple minutes later I learned, “… and pets can’t stay in that primitive site, but there is a First Day Fido Walk at 2:00.” Aw shucks, no pets! (pets are allowed at other sites though.) We’ll just have to chalk up this trip for reconnaissance, enjoy today as a refreshing day hike, and know how to plan better for next year. We still walked the entirety of our originally planned route, the thermometer never breached the warm side of freezing all day, and the whole ordeal was absolutely invigorating!
“after dreaming he went to Galilee” – Matt 2:22
In another place and time, a Facebook friend presented a running challenge the day after Christmas last week: 2,017k in 2017! “That sounds compelling,” I thought, “but an old back injury keeps me from doing that stuff anymore,” so it was easily side-stepped … yeah right! The ol’ TRS-80 between the ears ran a backup routine all day, computing 2,017k as 1,253.3 intimidating miles. No longer a runner, I started imagining an alternate 2017 Triple-A Roadhouse Challenge (afoot – awheel – afloat). Get your miles however you like: run, walk, hike, bike, swim, or paddle. Another day later I daydreamed about staged levels of participation: standard, walker, and advanced. No pressure, no mandatory check-ins, schedules are flexible, and I’m just posting this as the seed of an idea. Be creative.
2,017 Triple-A Roadhouse Challenge
Standard: 2,017 kilometers
• 1,253.3 miles
• 104.4 miles/month
• 24 miles/week
Walkers: 2,017 furlongs **
• 252 miles
• 21 mi/month
• 4.8 miles/week
Advanced: 2,017 miles
• 168 mi/month
• 38.7 miles/week
* AAA is
• afoot: run, walk, hike
• awheel: bike
• afloat: swim, paddle
** a furlong is the distance a team of oxen can pull a plough in a straight line before resting (1/8 mile, the same as 40 rods, ten chains, or 1 stadium); it’s old English for “fuhr” (furrow) + “lang” (length)
Mileage Log: 2,017 Mileage Master
(google sheet, make a copy to your g-drive)
Acoustic: A Head Full of Dreams
Artist: Coldplay, Head Full of Dreams (2016)
“The big question is whether
you’re going to be able to say a hearty yes
to your adventure” – Joseph Campbell