First Camping Trip at Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
I failed last time, but I knew I'd be back. The last time I was at Enchanted Rock was in June of 2020. I attempted to hike the summit trail solo, but I got nauseous and had to walk back down before making it to the top. It was a bummer, but the snow cone I ate afterward helped sweeten up my mood.
For 2021, I made a goal to go on at least one camping trip, and the plan to do so finally came to fruition. With the weather feeling like fall in September, it was the perfect timing to head back to E-Rock.
The only knowledge I had of camping was from the REI class I took back in January 2021 and a few YouTube videos I watched. I went into it as a complete noobie, but my friend, who I met back at the REI class, came along with me and shared what she had learned, which calmed my anxiety! I highly recommend this class because the instructors gave valuable insights into things they've learned while camping, such as what to look up for weather, requesting animal scat maps, using water filtration, options for camp kitchens, etc.
Thoughts that would deter me from planning a camping trip were:
Will I be safe out there in a tent?
How comfortable will I be sleeping in nature?
Can I handle the bugs?
Will I be underprepared or over-prepared?
I'm realistic! Although I love hiking, camping is a whole other beast to me. But it opens up an opportunity to stay the night at places without having to drive back home the same day. Before I finish up my story about how the day went, let's dive into a bit of history about the park (it'll be brief, I promise).
A Brief History of Enchanted Rock
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, located about 18-miles outside of Fredericksburg, Texas, opened in October 1978. The pinkish granite dome stands between Fredericksburg and Llano, TX, purchased by The Nature Conservancy of Texas in 1978. Learn more about Native American history in this area here!
⭐ Campsite Information: Find Here
Parks coined as a "State Natural Area" basically mean that, unlike a regular park that prioritizes recreational activities, these parks focus heavily on protecting the parks' natural environment.
Setting Up Camp
I've set up my tent a few times in my apartment, at my parent's house, and at the REI class, I mentioned. So this part was not difficult for me, thankfully! Building my home for the night was very fun and didn't take long at all. Our campground had a picnic table, so we organized our cooler, camp stove, and other equipment around the area.
If you are curious about what I used, here are some links to my equipment. I'll give more of a review later because this was my first time using them.
After sprucing up our home for the night, we ate our lunch and planned out the rest of the day.
Hiking the Summit Trail
At around 6:00 pm, after we drove back from HEB and snacked on some ice cream, we headed up the 1-mile summit trail with our day packs. The weather was amazing this evening with a nice cool breeze, and it turned a challenging hike into a delightful walk. After scaling the side of the dome, we reached the top and turned around to see small hills and peaks in the distance. We found a shady spot, snacked, hydrated, took photos, and enjoyed the sunset. I highly recommend having this experience at least once if you can!
Unexpected Visitors in the Night
I did not get much sleep through the night but, lowkey, it was kind of nice even though I wish I did. I had a headache, and we had some unexpected visitors come to our campsite over and over again. They looked like little bandits in the night digging in our snack bags. Raccoons were taking our marshmallows, grabbing my friend's bag and opening her packet of nuts, and then ending the night at 4am fighting and hissing at our picnic table.
Aside from this encounter, hearing the wind roll in from a distance and rustling the tent, listening to the howling of coyotes in the distance, watching the stars appear and disappear in the clouds, and looking up to see the moon shining down into my eyes, was something that made me feel peace and a closeness to nature that I've never experienced before. Regardless of my head feeling like it was going to explode (who else hates headaches?) and the bugs, I thought to myself, "where can I go next?"
What Did I Learn?
This is specifically tailored to my camping experience, so this may be common knowledge, but I'm human, and sometimes it's nice to learn as you go.
Take your snack bags to the car, or you'll have to throw it down with some raccoons
Plan what you'll need from the grocery store ahead of time for camp meals
Keep your first aid kit in your tent in case you need some medicine for a pesky headache
Check the campsite to see if you'll need to park in a parking lot and walk in or if you park next to your campsite
As a beginner camper, I think having only four major takeaways isn't so bad! Enchanted Rock was one of the best places to begin my camping journey, and I honestly can't wait for the next one. If you haven't been camping yet, don't be shy to ask a friend to tag along, find a Meetup group in your area, or try to go solo if you feel comfortable.
Cheers to making more memories in the outdoors!