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Backpacking at Lost Maples State Natural Area with Austin Backpackers Meetup Group

On the morning of May 14th, I gathered my final pieces of gear for my 1-night backpacking trip at Lost Maples. Headlamp? Check. Pee cloth? Check. Courage? Triple check. I had my life in my light blue 50L Osprey Aura backpacking pack. I looked down and thought – It’s unbelievable how a home, restroom, kitchen, and closet can fit into this one pack.

This would be my first time going on an actual backpacking trip. I planned it a few months prior with the Austin Backpackers Meetup group, not considering how hot it would be in Texas in May, but four of us were down for the challenge. The heat, incline, and my overall well-being were the three challenges standing in my way.

As we made our way up the trail to primitive campsite G on the far northwest side of the park, I felt lightheaded. My heart felt like it was aggressively pounding out of my chest like a cartoon character, I was drenched in sweat, and as we went up the first major incline, I stopped to catch my breath and sit down. Signs of heat exhaustion were showing up.

Listening to my fellow backpackers talk, I kept trying to stand up to signal I was good to go, but I got dizzy every time I rose. I did that several times and some other people in the group asked if I was doing okay. Troy was generous and gave me half a banana and a KIND bar he had. And poured water on my head to help cool me off a bit. I slowly got the energy I needed and was able to make it to the top – thankfully.

As I’m sure everyone experiences, it can get frustrating when our bodies don’t do what we want them to do. It’s like an old car. We want it to perform like the best sports car out there in our heads. But unfortunately, without the proper upkeep and gas, it just won’t do it. No matter how hard we try. I wasn’t planning on being the slowest performing car there, but we need to go at our own pace and remember to take care of our needs first.

Moving forward, we weaved in and out of rocky trails that were covered in greenery. Ashe juniper trees, maples, twisted-leaf yuccas, and some other plants I wasn’t familiar with. “Almost there,” someone said out loud. And sure enough, the brown marker that said we were at primitive campsite G appeared.

I quickly placed my backpacking pack down on the ground to get some relief. I was happy that I could trek through the remainder of the trail there with ease—kind of like getting into a flow state. I had one goal in mind. Get to that campsite or die trying (just kidding about the dying part).

I took off my brown sun shirt that was heavy with sweat and hung it on a tree as if it was a coat hanger in my living room. We scoped out the area to see where we would put our tents and chatted about the heat and what we’d do next.

After our break, we hiked the West Loop Trail connected to our campsite's area. And low and behold, there was another steep section, but I could make it up easier this time without my almost thirty-pound bag.

Afterward, it was nearing 6 o’clock, and we needed to go collect some water at the spring that was about a mile away. This was my first time using my water filter, and I was looking forward to collecting drinking water. This spring looked like something out of a fairytale. Crystal clear water flowed down from the rocks into the pool of water below. The water tasted terrific after filtering it through my Katadyn BeFree filter.

After collecting all of our water, we headed back to our campsite to eat dinner and wrap up the night. It was very humid this night, but the slight breeze and moon shining down from the sky made it feel more bearable.

The next day, we took the West Trail to the East Trail to close out the loop around the park and head back to the parking lot. The elevation was my biggest hurdle, but I felt better than before. One foot in front of the other – I thought to myself.

The Route

Austin Backpackers Meet Up Group

If you are in central Texas and are looking for ways to:

  • Meet other backpackers of all skill levels

  • Learn backpacking best practices and tips

  • Attend trips in and outside of Texas

This is the group for you! I have had such a great time with this group. I attended their backpacking 101 clinic in late 2021 that went over the basics of backpacking. It was an overnight trip where we practiced backpacking into a campsite, ate backpacking food, learned how to pack our packs, and other best practices. If you are interested in joining the Austin Backpackers Meetup group, it’s completely free, and you can do so on Meetup! Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.

I hope you enjoyed this story about my experience backpacking at Lost Maples State Natural Area. This park is an ideal place to practice your backpacking skills. You will be in for a fun challenge, from the rocky terrain to the step inclines.

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