Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Magical Mystery (Mountain) Tour, or, facing your fears.

Not to brag, but ...

Ok ok, I'm going to brag.  I had the coolest Saturday night ever last weekend.  

Starting with the fact that I spent it in a cave.

"Come again, Tolly?" I know.  I'm just as shocked as you are.  Although I recently decided that I am pro-hikes, I'm not usually the kind of gal who just goes out and sleeps in the wild.

"So you've gone native.  Where exactly is this cave you speak of?"  Well, I'm not 100% sure.  I do know that it is tucked somewhere inside Enchanted Rock.  That enormous mound of pink granite rising up out of the Earth, two hours outside of Austin, surrounded by a thicket of green forest. 

Here's how it happened. 

A big group of Ross (husband)'s and my friends drove out there Saturday afternoon.  To my surprise, Enchanted Rock's park was almost totally empty.  Perhaps because it was the weekend after 4th of July, or because would-be park goers feared camping in scorching temperatures.

But whatever the reason, it was like we had the whole park, the entire 640 acre stretch of it, all to ourselves.

We gathered up our backpacks, snacks, and musical instruments, and followed our friend Jason out to the cave.

High-maintenance me carried a cushy sleep pad.

After twenty minutes or so of hiking -- over boulders, tip-toeing down sheer rock, narrowly avoiding cactus (I say "narrowly avoiding" because when I crouched down to pee, I almost sat on cacti) -- we found the cave.

  We climbed down inside of it.

We made camp.

It got dark quickly.

The guys played music, and as I dozed, I was a little afraid that a wild animal would come "get" me in the night.  But when I awoke in the morning, I found myself intact, all in one piece.

"But what did it look like, Tolly?"

Reader, I wish I could show you the cave.

But I didn't take any pictures while I was down there.

My latent hippie felt it too sacred to capture on film ... so, maybe I'll just have to take you down there sometime myself.

When we got up the next morning, around five, we hiked up the giant granite boulder.

The top picture is Ross, silhouetted against the sky.  Other members of our crew were hiking up, further ahead of us.  Can you see them?

That's one of our tiny friends, with his dog, in the third pic.  I love the way he's posed.

About halfway up the climb, the rock's incline became so sheer that I had to get on all fours just to keep going.

I stopped and thought, "I can't do this.  I'll never get down."

But I climbed anyway.

When we made it to the peak, we sat down and watched the sun come up.

The surface was so craggy and pocked, it felt like being on top of the moon.

Laying there, I realized that there's a difference between knowing your limits, and facing your fears.  Finishing the climb -- heck, sleeping in a cave -- were both a little bit scary for me.  But I did it.

 And studying the sun's acsent from that high of an elevation, getting to see its first, fresh rays wash the gray landscape in liquid gold ... it was the most intense, magical reward.

I made it down, too.  So did everybody else, safe and sound.

Writing this post now, from my little office desk, all I can think is: "Did I dream that?"

I mean, do you ever have adventures that are just so wild they don't even seem real?  

Here's to many more dream-like adventures this summer. 


Krista said...

You photos are gorgeous, particularly those early morning ones. So inspirational.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Thank you Krista! The light WAS incredible ... made me realize what I've been missing being a late-morning waker-upper.

Annette said...

Ahhh! I want to go camping, but the heat makes me nervous. Great idea to camp in a cave! Sounds like it was amazing. Awesome, awesome. =)

Davinia said...

These are some gorgeous photos. I'm such an indoorsy girl but pictures like this always make me wish I were a tad more adventurous. Can you believe I've never camped out under the stars? Maybe that should be on my bucket list!

Breanna said...

You hiked, slept in a cave, woke up at 5am, AND your hair still looks good? HOW DO YOU DO IT TOLLY?

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Annette, you should go for it!! It wasn't nearly as hot as I thought it would be. Especially on top of that big, breezy rock!

Davinia, believe it or not, I've been indoorsy + temperature controlled + high heel-wearing for 90% (ok, 95%) of my life. It has only been recently that I've been embracing my more adventurous Woman Vs. Wild side, and it is SO liberating. I totally encourage you to camp out under the stars, even if it's in your own backyard. There's something nourishing about reconnecting with nature.

And Breanna, it's all about flattering angles. I deleted all the BAD pics of my hair ... which were numerous.

coloursmarie said...

You need to do some extended sending and come with me to go climbing!

Put some 5.10 rubber on those feet and you will be running up the back side of the cave.

CONGRATS for ditching the heels and getting dirty, girl!

Allison said...

Wowzer, seems like an amazing adventure! Your pictures are gorgeous.