Monday, November 20, 2017

Hiking to Palo Duro Canyon's Lighthouse

On our last day at Palo Duro Canyon, we were greeted by this roadrunner. We've seen several of these guys running down the road, but today he was meandering through our campground in the nice weather.

We too are enjoying the warmer temperatures and sun shine. Mark has been looking longingly at that hill behind our camp site since we arrived. As you can see from the picture below, he has decided to climb it today. He's standing in front of that large boulder close to the top.

From there we can see the motor home and our neighbors in the campground below. We are enjoying plenty of space, and a private covered picnic table here in Mesquite campground at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. We also have found that this is about the only place down in the canyon that has AT&T phone service and an over-the-air television signal.

Mark looks good up at the top standing against that bright blue sky. He assured Denisa that it was an easy climb, so she joined him up there.

That hill is made up of round clay pebbles that we disdainfully call "roll-ders." Trying to hike downhill is akin to rollerskating at an 80-degree angle. It was tough getting down and we entertained several of our neighbors who were pretty sure we were nuts for trying it.

The real hike planned for the day is to the state park's iconic rock formation--The Lighthouse. It's a 2.7 mile hike across the canyon floor on a relatively flat trail. We were really disappointed when we got to the end of the trail, with no lighthouse in sight.

It's a good thing that we had read that this is where the real work begins. We saw other hikers turn around at the "end of trail" sign, but we knew to head straight up the hill in front of us.

It was a tough scramble, but the pay-off was good. We could see the light(house) at the end of the tunnel. We have proof that we made it, as you can see Denisa standing in front of Lighthouse Rock in the picture below.

Once we climbed to this level, there was a nice flat cap-stone walkway that connected it to other rock formations.

It was a grand place to be on a pretty weather afternoon in November!

Mark scrambled up beside another of the tall rocks in this part of the canyon for another grand view.

Mark was pretty sure we could find an easier way down, so we followed the wash for a while. It looks like this wash turns into a waterfall when it rains here in the canyon. So much for our easy way down.

This time of year it's tough to find the pretty flower blooms that Denisa loves. But some of the cactus here have turned a delicate color of pink that is as pretty as a flower.

Those cactus also make a good hiding place for this long bullsnake trying to soak up a little sunshine after several cold days.

We were glad to see his round eyes and thumb-shaped head--indicators that he was a non-venomous snake.

After we scrambled down more roll-ders we finally got back to the trail. But now we were met with another kind of danger--mountain bikers! It's scary to meet one riding fast around a blind curve, or have one catch up with you coming over a hill. An unusually large number of bikers were on the trails today, since Palo Duro is hosting their annual bike marathon this weekend. In fact, we have to leave because all the camping spots have been reserved by bikers. To tell you the truth, after the anxiety of hiking with so many two-wheelers on the trail today, we're content to leave the canyon and the trails to the 200 mountain bikers that will be racing here tomorrow.

As we drove back to our campground, we saw a large flock of turkeys. So we had some good wildlife sightings today. We started and ended our day with bird sightings at Palo Duro Canyon. We've enjoyed our four days here, but we're ready to head down the road tomorrow.

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