My friend, Mike and I, set out on a cold gray Wednesday in mid-November to seek out the Autumn colors of our Texas Hill Country. We do this every fall, and a few years ago one of the images from Garner State Park ended up on the cover of Texas Highways Magazine.
Mike lives in the San Antonio area and I’m just west of weird (Dripping Springs), so we met in Kerrville for an early lunch at the Cracker Barrell.
I know this chain may not be a favorite of everyone, including my family, but I do love their cornbread and biscuits. But I digress…
After a good home-style meal, we said a prayer that the clouds would break as expected and headed south to explore some of the roads around Medina, Bandera, Vanderpool, and Utopia. At one point, I even flew my drone beneath a canopy of orange cypress along the Medina River.
But our real destination was Garner State Park. This area along the Frio River is lined with cypress and oak and offers amazing Autumn colors in good years. This year we were not disappointed. We started out by making the walk up to Old Baldie. Sitting at 1,849’ above sea level, this little limestone hill towers above the river valley below.
The winding of the river in the distance is easily seen, and the orange colors of the cypress outline its meandering path.
Up top on Old Baldie, it was cold as a front was passing through. The temperatures were in the 40s and the wind was crisp. The clouds seemed to be constantly changing, not really sure what to do with the change in temperatures.But thankfully, more blue sky was beginning to show!
After spending some time taking in the views as well as a few photographs, we headed down. Mike then spent some time along the river while I hiked up Old Baldie’s counterpart, Painted Rock. From this vantage point, I found some great views of Old Baldie.
I ran up here late in the evening for a little painted sky, as well.
I met back up with Mike and we discussed our options for sunset with the hopes of having a colorful sky. After a lot of talk and exploring, I figured my best angle was, unfortunately, standing just below a small dam in the frigid water and shooting upstream. I will say the water was really cold as I tried to balance my tripod on some loose and wet rocks. After a while, you just have to accept the coldness of the water, which I did. Anything for the shot, I guess.
And I was happy with the results.
We continued to explore for the last 20 minutes of daylight, and my final exposure times were 30 seconds long, made possible only by the now calm winds.
It was a good day followed by a long drive home in the dark.
The next day found me at one of the places I know well – Pedernales Falls State Park. I set out early – well before sunrise when everything was still dark. About five minutes into my drive, I hit a deer – the 4th deer I’ve hit in the past 5 or so years. Very frustrating. I couldn’t see any damage, so for that I was grateful. In the past, the repair jobs have cost several thousand dollars (and thank goodness for deductibles). However, later that day I found a crack near the front left light, and my blinker still isn’t working. My wife has reminded me several times me I need to get that fixed.
Nevertheless, I pressed on, walking down to the river in the dark. Again, I was fortunate to have calm winds and colorful skies for sunrise. Here are some images from that cold, 30 degree morning…
Also, that morning, the sole of my shoe came off. I’ve never had that happen before! And my camera started giving me an "Error 20" message. I was able to finish shooting, but later googled that means my shutter is dying. As a side note, I was able to head out a few more times the next week, experiencing the same error message a few times, but did get the shots in that I needed (including in Palo Duro and San Antonio). Now, my camera is on the way back to the Canon hospital to see if it can be salvaged. Fingers crossed that the price is reasonable.
In the meantime, I hope everyone has a safe holiday and new year.
Thanks for reading!