With a view to my future of hiking and in hopes of getting into some shape rather than round we decided, on the spur of the moment, to go on a nature hike today. We went to the Sibley Nature Centre out at Hogan Park and walked around their facility and a trail or two that they have in the back forty over there.
The Raymond Howard Trailhead at Sibley Nature Centre
The Centre was closed today but a wealth of information is on placards all around the building telling a little bit about the Llano Estacado. Now if you followed the link you know that the Llano Estacado is a 37,000 square mile chunk of land that is roughly 3000 feet in elevation and home to about a million people. This Estacado lies at the southern end of the Great Plains of the central United States and straddles the border between New Mexico and Texas.
Burr Williams, the director of the Sibley Nature Center, has really opened my eyes to some of the wonders of the Llano Estacado, not only the the God-made wonders but the human-made ones as well. Thanks to him I can say that I am a proud Llanero as well.
Anyway on to todays hike…
Fossils in a wall at a pavillion
More fossils in the same wall
Every so often on the trail are pavilions. They are nothing fancy but in the blazing West Texas sun these pavilions provide some respite from the unrelenting sun. The first pavilion, and I guess all of them, are built with stone from the Llano Estacado. One had several fossils in it.
Cactus buried in a Mesquite
My part of West Texas is technically not a desert climate. We are in a semi-arid zone. Right to the west of the Llano Estacado is the Chihuahuan Desert, which is the fourth largest desert in North America.
I believe this particular cactus is called tasajillo. It has these red fruit on it that my son says tastes a lot like tomato. I didn’t try any because it has all these stupid little spines on it that one has to pick off before eating. Besides, as a general rule, I like mesquite beans much much more than I like boring cactus fruit. I was on a quest for mesquite beans!
One of the joys of hiking in the wilderness is finding critters. As we were out in the early afternoon all the critters had pretty much gone to their dens. I realise that you may not be able to find him in this phone pic but there is a frog in the middle of this pic.
Everything is thorny
Some fuzzy plant
Our area is dotted with playas. A playa is basically a hole in the ground that fill us with water occasionally. These playas serve as temporary watering holes for the wildlife that live in the area. Usually the water evaporates in the hot summer air or sinks into the acquifier. Some playas in the cities have some refinements done to them by man and they hold their water and attract various water fowl.
The trail continued on...
This is a neat trail. I would love to go out there with a tour guide and learn about the plants, animals and bugs out there. The folks at Sibley have done an excellent job of putting this together. It is a pretty hike and while on the trail one forgets that you are still in the city limits.
I believe there are two different trails here that overlap one another. I need to get the gps unit out and map the area for openstreetmap. I would also like to go out there with more than a cell phone and take some better picture for you.
Yep, we have cactus around here
My only disappointment from this little walk came from not finding a single mesquite bean to snack on! It’s like someone harvested them for their own pleasure or something.
We walked this several years ago when there was not much there. I am very impressed by the work that Burr William and the Sibley Center have done!