Friday, November 17, 2006

Medina River, Forest Fire, Utopia and Garner State Park

I was out driving south of Bandera a couple of days ago looking for hikes along the Medina River. I didn't find anything, but just after I took this picture of the river I noticed there was a forest fire just up the hill. It was pretty scary, since it has been dry here and and the a dry NW wind was blowing about 30 mph from a front which came through the night before. I was there before the fire department, although they showed up a couple of minutes later. The fire was amazing, going from a small fire to a huge one within just a few minutes. The small local volunteer firefighters apparently battled it all day and eventually got it out with the help of helicopters.

Today I finally pulled myself up by my bootstraps and headed over to Garner state park. I went through Utopia about noon and spent the afternoon hiking at the park. I started by taking the Old Baldy trail to the top of the mountain shown here, from the bottom and a few views from the top.

Then I hiked past George's Patio overlook and down the Bridges trail. I assumed there must be some spectacular bridges, but I didn't see anything like that. Maybe it was named after someone named Bridges. Anyway, here are some photos from the trail.

Then I took the Madronas trail along the Frio River and the Bird trail up to rock cave.

Garner was on my list to see, but I was a bit discouraged by Shannon's unfavorable comparison to Hill Country SNA. I enjoyed some nice hiking and found it very nice, although if you are looking for quiet nature I could see Hill Country would be better. Garner is very developed, with several huge campgrounds, shelters, cabins. It has a couple of stores, volleyball courts, tube rentals, etc. Obviously it is pretty much oriented to recreation on the Frio river and so was pretty quiet at this time of year, in contrast to the summer months.

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