Lost Maples State Natural Area

Friday, May 6 through Sunday, May 8, 2005

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This is the second time we have visited Lost Maples. The first time we visited Lost Maples, I didn't have much opportunity to hike around the park. This time, I hiked some of the trails. I did the East Trail Friday afternoon. It took me over three hard hours of constant walking to get around the East Trail. Saturday, I walked the West Trail. It is somewhat easier but still takes around three hours of solid walking. Both trails have some pretty steep climbs in them. Also, you should wear sturdy hiking boots. The terrain can be very rocky. In places, the rocks are very sharp. At times, I could feel the rocks through the soles of my boots. Tennis shoes would have been a disaster.

Because I didn't have any good or accurate idea of the trails in this park, I didn't plan my time very well. While someone in good shape who hurries can get through the East and West Trails in three hours each. If I had taken the time to smell the roses, I could easily have spent six hours walking each loop. When I'm walking fast to make time, I make entirely too much noise. Boots on gravel. Lots of wildlife had plenty of notice that I was on my way through. Slowing down would have given me a better chance of seeing wildlife.

Spring is running a bit late in parts of Texas this year. Wildflowers are in bloom right now. I saw lots of prickly pear cactus blooms. Humming birds were swarming the feeder at the ranger station Saturday night. Park staff said the birds are especially heavy feeders when the weather is about to change. Severe thunderstorms moved through the area Saturday night.

This is a great park. The staff is good. The bathrooms and showers are clean and in good repair. The park is clean. The park guests all behaved well.

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Left - The ranger station has nice people inside and an active humming bird feeder outside.

Lower left - Larry and Linda hang out Friday afternoon.

Lower right - Of all the sites, this one was the best for us. Lots of privacy and space. Campsite 15.

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Above left - A couple carefully picks their way down one of the many steep parts of the West Trail.

Above right - Hikers walk a manmade dike holding Can Creek back in a pond.

Left - A group of day hikers follows the trail down hill.

Below left - a woman reflects on the reflections in the Can Creek pond.

Below right - A family plays along the creek side on the East Trail.

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Left - Abandoned ranger residence by the overflow parking. Cinder block walls. External stone fireplace and chimney. Steel roof.

Below - the park has installed a number of composting toilets near the primitive campsites along the trails. They don't smell. This is not your father's outhouse. They also don't require electricity. They were even clean.

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Sign above left says (in part)

If you look across the meadow to the rock wall you will see a large hole in the rock face. Just up from the left margin of the hold and at the top of the beige band you will see a large pile of sticks. This is the hawk nest. This site has been used for a number of years and offers protection from the elements and would be nest predators. When nesting, the head of the hawk should be visible just above the rim of the nest. If you listen you may hear the mate calling a harsh descending "Keeeeeeeer!"

Above right - the sign is hanging from a pipe that also has a home made sight at the top of it. The site is set on the rock wall show on the left. I think the nest is at the upper left hand corner of the picture.

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Above left - Prickly pear cactus blooms in the foreground. Mountain laurel in the background.

Above right - Honey bee visits a prickly pear cactus bloom.

Right - Blue bonnets, mountain laurel, live oaks, and native grasses. Recipe for a lovely Hill Country afternoon.

Below - more wild flowers. Don't know their names.

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Above left - Blue bonnets along the side of the park road.

Above right - Thistles in the front yard of one of the ranger residences.

Below left - Headline! Bee visits wildflower in spring.

Below right - Another headline! Butterfly visits wildflower in spring. Gets pollen all over itself.

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Above left - This (Southern Toad?) toad snuck into our outdoor green carpet and was as surprised as I was when I started rolling up the carpet while packing up camp on Sunday.

Above right - This (Six-lined Racerunner) lizard was sunning himself when I happened along on the road. As he scurried off I couldn't help but wonder if the roadrunner I saw that morning running through camp with breakfast in its beak was dining on a similar lizard.

Below left - The trails crisscross and and run parallel streams trickling (mostly) through the bottom of rugged little canyons. This heron or egret didn't give me much chance for a picture.

Below right - This snake was a mere 6 inches long. I haven't seen one of these before. I also don't find a good match in my quick "Pocket Naturalist" "Reptiles & Amphibians" laminated guide.

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Above left - The canyons are both rugged and beautiful. Years of water scaring the hillsides have carved out beautiful scenery.

Above right - At canyon bottoms, one often sees serene little pools with water lazily wandering past slowly toward the gulf.

Below left - Can Creek pond. Beautiful reflections.

Below right - Maple Trail ends in a stone staircase at the East Trail along the Sabinal River.

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Copyright © 2005 Larry Pearson - All Rights Reserved