Friday, May 23, 2014

Rugged late spring beauty at Inks Lake

This week, the family and I took a much-needed mid-week break from our daily routines to soak up the lovely natural surrounding at Inks Lake State Park. The weather remains unseasonably cool this year in Austin, which means it is downright perfect for camping. Temps ranged from upper 60s in the early morning to upper 80s at the peak of the afternoon. Great swimming weather, very enjoyable in the shade.

A dry creek on the way to Devil's Waterhole, as seen from the wooden bridge on the trail. My 4-year-old was looking for wildlife footprints and hoping to find some here.
Our one family hike this time was down to Devil's Waterhole and back. Last time we camped at Inks, we lugged our then 3-year-old and 15-month-old up the steep ridge of the Valley Creek trail that starts from Devil's Waterhole. This time, being 8 months pregnant, the walk down to the waterhole and back was enough for me! Our kids probably would have handled more of a hike.

I wish I was able to snap pictures of the ample and diverse wildlife at this park. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers and Roadrunners appeared several times. Ducks and geese abound at the lake. Cardinals flit in male/female pairs among the oaks and brush. They were too fast for my iPhone camera.

We saw a skunk poking around near our cabin on our first night, and took great care to pack away all traces of food from then on.

White-tailed deer made several appearances, too.

My crew, headed for the playscape, as was our evening routine.  The sticker burrs out there make the ones at my parents' place in Dripping Springs look like marshmallows by comparison. Yowza!
A bed of xeric perennials was one of the few obviously human-influenced touches to the landscape. Autumn Sage, Blackfoot Daisy and a couple of others dressed up this dry, sunny spot.
This was our little lakefront beach spot for the trip. My husband and I parked our camping chairs in the generous shade of this Mexican Sycamore and took turns playing with the girls in the water. My 4-year-old pointed out that the water shines with gold glittery particles, thanks perhaps to the fine granite sand at the bottom.

I took a solo walk early on our last morning in the park, to soak up the pretty pink granite/green foliage contrasts, enjoy everything bathed in yellow sunrays, and try to capture a striking purple bloom I'd seen on the little barrel cacti surrounding the park headquarters.

Mesquite trees are just perfect in this rugged landscape, no?

Pencil cactus caught my eye, adorned with charming red fruits at some of its joints.

Granite + cactus + sunrise = a little bit of heaven

They have rain lilies at Inks Lake, too. These were smaller with spikier petals than the ones I see in our Austin neighborhood. I like the pink tips of the petals.

Another of the rare human-orchestrated vistas: Softleaf Yucca (or is it some variety of Sotol?) getting ready to bloom, anchored by granite boulders.

I did find the purple-blooming barrel cactus, though it wasn't until later in the day, on our way home, that I could catch the flowers starting to open.

These eye-catching flowers made the cacti look like a bunch of little flashlights in the evening sunlight. The flowers weren't fully open in this picture, but you get the idea. The combination of this with yellow Prickly Pear blossoms was just lovely--wish I had caught it on camera!

Inks Lake, like most of Texas I imagine, is a little different every time you visit. A month ago, I'm sure bluebonnets would have made for dazzling photos.  I delighted in seeing the array of blooms and colors this time around.

1 comment:

  1. What a nice post! My husband was at Inks Lake last weekend with some scouts and dads--he said it was beautiful. I'm impressed that you still camp and hike with two little ones and one on the way--you're brave (and young...). I love that little rain lily with the pink tips!