Pic of the Week 10/2/20
“Tucker Lake Shoreline”
Location: Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, TX
Date taken: 9/26/20
I spent this past weekend in the Palo Pinto Mountains area of Texas. If you’re not too familiar with this area here’s the gist: hills covered in Juniper trees with big rocks and sharp cactus. Sounds inviting right? But the Palo Pinto mountains is one of my favorite landscapes in the great state of Texas. Some even go as far as to call it “the northern most part of the hill country”. In a way, there is some truth to that statement, but the Palo Pinto Mountains are more of the Cross Timbers region. In the heart of this area a new state park is being built with plans for it be completed and open to visitors in 2023.
You might be asking yourself, “If the park isn’t open until 2023, then how did he get access?” Well, I do have good news for you because there are some areas of the park that are open—mainly the picnic area at the termination of FM 2372 and the road that runs along the east side of Tucker Lake. I also discovered they allowed overnight camping in the picnic areas, and that was enough for me to get out there to go exploring.
I arrived at Strawn, TX in the late afternoon and followed FM 2372 to the picnic area. I was surprised to see a few trucks with trailers parked here. I didn’t see any people however, I assumed they were horseback riders and were out exploring the park. Then I head a familiar animal sound come from near the dam. The bleat sounded like a goat. Were there goats out here? I had no idea. Then a gentleman pulled up near my campsite and introduced himself. Turns out, they were the ones that brought the goats. The city of Strawn had asked them to help clear out some brush along the dam, so these people brought out their 150head of goats to clean up the area. Thankfully, I arrived on their last day, so I wouldn’t be dealing with bleating goats all night long.
After the goat ranchers left, I started to set up my camp and get ready for my hike. I had planned to check out a few of the mesas on the east side of Tucker Lake. I thought a high vantage point would really help bring in this vast landscape. I drove down the bumpy road to the end of the lake and started hiking up the mesa. I huffed and puffed as I climbed higher and higher up the steep hill. Once I reached the top I was a little disappointed to find the spectacular vista overlooks I had hoped existed were completely blotted out by the trunks and branches of Juniper trees. Sadly, my vast landscape view would have to wait for another day.
I returned to my vehicle and noticed a small trail that followed the lake shoreline and when I came around the bend, I found this image. The late evening sunlight was painting the Juniper trees in a pleasant warm glow. In between the trees chunks of rock and large boulders were tightly seated in the loamy soil. To my right was the lake and the waves gently lapped along the shoreline brining a soothing descant melody above the buzzing of nearby cicadas. In the distance the southern shore of the lake was covered with more Juniper, but signs of autumnal change were scattered through the woods. I enjoyed every minute of it! I climbed back into my vehicle and headed back to camp. If it weren’t for this shot, the day may have very well been lost. I was upset I couldn’t find any grand vista, but that tranquil scene made up for all my misfortune. Its amazing what a simple sunset can do for your soul.
Tucker Lake ShorelineThe last light of sunset falls on the banks of Tucker Lake © Ben Jacobi