Friday, December 2, 2011

Climbing the Batholith

As I stood at the base of Enchanted Rock about 20 miles north of Fredericksburg, TX, I must admit to thinking about how to write about this adventure. "Climbing Enchanted Rock" would have been accurate, but would have evoked a "That's nice" response.
"Climbing a Granite Exfoliated Dome" at first sounds like quite an accomplishment ("climbing granite," after all, can't be easy), but after a pause, it sounds like much ado about nothing (a boulder could be an "exfoliated dome").

But,..."Climbing a Basolith" (and one of the largest batholiths in the United States, to boot) sounds awesome, prompting a plea from an ardent listener to: "Tell me more. What was that like?"

So it was with this sense of undertaking a significant challenge that I set out down the trail (photo above) to the base of Enchanted Rock. The sign for the Summit Trail pointed me in the direction of what appeared to be an array of large rocks with little indication of a "trail." "More challenging," I thought.

I soon discovered that there was a pattern to some of the rock formations that seemed to serve as steps along the trail. "Aha, the challenge is finding the clues to the trail," I proudly concluded.

I would later learn that a basolith is an underground rock formation uncovered by erosion and that Enchanted Rock was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1970 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

The Rock rises 425 feet above ground and covers 640 acres.

I took the opportunity to stop to look at the surrounding landscape from various points as I made my way up the Rock.

Actually, I made these stops to catch my breath and rest, but the views were pretty interesting and worthy of a few moments to enjoy them.

The state acquired the park in 1984, but, as the park's webpage notes:
"...humans have visited here for over 11,000 years."

As the park's webpage states:
"Tonkawa Indians believed ghost fires flickered at the top, and they heard weird creaking and groaning, which geologists now say resulted from the rock's heating by day and contracting in the cool night.

"A conquis-tador captured by the Tonkawa described how he escaped by losing himself in the rock area, giving rise to an Indian legend of a 'pale man swallowed by a rock and reborn as one of their own.'

"The Indians believed he wove enchant-ments on the area, but he explained that the rock wove the spells.
'When I was swallowed by the rock, I joined the many spirits who enchant this place.'

"The first well-documented explorations of this area did not begin until 1723 when the Spanish intensified their efforts to colonize Texas. During the mid-1700s, the Spaniards made several trips to the north and northwest of San Antonio, establishing a mission and presidio on the San Saba River and carrying out limited mining on Honey Creek near the Llano River."

At the top of Enchanted Rock, I found patches of grass--and cactus.

I marveled at the resiliency of these plants. Growing out of cracks in the granite.

My accomplish-ment of climbing a batholith paled in comparison to that of these grasses, cacti, and shrubs.

But,...the view from the top of the Rock, was stunning.

Now for the descent.

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