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Our Backpacking Group has just finished a cold weather backpacking and camping trip to Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway. We did a cold weather trip last year to Lake Houston Wilderness Park. I would say that we learned quite a bit more this year.
It is about an 8 hour drive to the western trailhead for the Caprock Canyons Trailway from The Woodlands. We got up early and got to the State Park by mid-afternoon. Then we headed for the trailhead and started our trek. Given the early sunsets this time of year, and the fact that one of our campers was trying out a brand new tent, that meant we got in a bit less than 2 hours on the trail before having to set up camp for the night.
The first lesson we learned had to do with the accuracy of weather forecasts out near the high plains of Texas. Back home in The Woodlands, the weather forecasts are quite accurate. Out there in the semi-arid plains and hills there is a bit greater variation between forecasts and reality. Our first night was colder than we expected it to be. One of our campers stored water bottles in the vestibule outside of their tent. The bottle was pretty well frozen by morning.
Of course, being semi-arid, the temperatures rose as fast when the sun came up as they dropped when the sun went down. We were wearing lots of layers when we got up for breakfast. By the time we got to hiking, the layers were coming off fast.
We were fortunate in that we hiked a not particularly exciting section of the trail on Day One. Our backpacking on Day Two was entirely rolling hills, canyons, and natural beauty. We completed our hiking for the day by mid-afternoon and set up camp on the western side of Clarity Tunnel. The location had beautiful views and as the sun went below the hills near our site, it continued to reflect off red cliffs in the distance for quite a while.
The stars are majestic out there. There is no light pollution from cities and towns. You can see more constellations than you are likely to know. The moon was high and still quite bright, but it rose late enough as not to disturb our star viewing.
The temperatures plummeted the second evening even lower than they had on Evening One, and we all got to take the measure of our sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and other layers we wore to not quite freeze. A couple of notes for would be backpackers. Keep your water supplies in your tent with you so they do not freeze. Your fuel canisters will not work as efficiently when cold as they do at normal temperatures. You may need to warm up your lighter in your hands before firing it up, it may not work if it is too cold. If you are a side sleeper, make sure that your sleeping pad states clearly that it is designed for side sleepers, and check the reviews.
The temperatures made for a very interesting trek. We enjoyed ourselves despite the very cold evenings and learned a lot. Next time we will be better prepared!
If you are reading this and wondering whether hiking, camping, or backpacking is for you, there is no better way to find out than to join us for one or two activities. You will learn quickly which activities you like, and you will have a good time with some really fun people at the same time!
UPCOMING EVENTS – March
Day Hike: LSHT (Winter’s Bayou)
Camping Trip: Lost Maples SNA (March)
Now that we have a predictable meeting place, we will start a new regularly scheduled meeting time and date. Meetings will be held the 4th Wednesday of each month, from 6:30-8:30.
Please note that everyone is welcome to attend our club meetings. Anyone interested in joining us for a Day Hike before should sign up at a meeting or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out our newsletter by clicking on the NEWSLETTERS link in the left menu. If you would like to join us for a Day Hike before you can come to one of our meetings, also send an email that you are interested.
WHERE do our members live? Check out this map to see. Our members come from a wide range of communities in the Greater Houston area. The 4 most represented communities are The Woodlands, Conroe, Spring, and Houston. We also have members from Montgomery, Cypress, Willis, and Kingwood.
We are also adding a webpage on general hiking related information. Check it out at <Hiking Info!>. AND we have just added the March Newsletter, look to the left!
ABOUT THE WOODLANDS HIKING CLUB
The Woodlands Hiking Club, a group of enthusiastic hikers and campers committed to enjoying the outdoors, was officially organized in 1983. While most of our members are from The Woodlands and surrounding areas, we also have members in Sugar Land, Georgetown, and Arlington.
A day hike is usually scheduled for a Saturday morning once a month at a local trail, park, or nature center. We normally camp one weekend a month at a Texas state park, hike Saturday, and enjoy a pot-luck dinner on Saturday night; or sometimes we go to a local restaurant. We do not have regular campouts during July, August, or December. Some members have travel trailers and some have tents. Once in awhile, we stay at a motel.
Each year the club plans hiking and camping trips to meet the interests of its members. There is something for everyone – local day hikes, weekend trips with short day hikes, or an adventurous week-long backpacking trip to places like the Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, or Big Bend National Park. The Club occasionally plans more exotic trips. Over the past several years, trips have included Alaska, Peru, England, Mexico, and France. In August 2009, a couple of our members went llamapacking in Colorado near the Continental Divide. In December 2009, several members once again went to Big Bend National Park to spend a week at one of the club’s favorite places. In October 2011, we went to Great Smoky Mountains National Park; and in September 2012, a group traveled to Taos, New Mexico. In March 2014 the club spent a week in glorious Big Bend National Park, enjoying more than 8 hikes totaling more than 25 miles.
Visitors are always welcome to attend our meetings. We meet on the first Wednesday of the month except we do not meet in July, August, or December. We meet at the Spring Creek Greenway Nature Center, 1300 Riley Fuzzel Road, Spring, TX; and meetings begin at 7:00 P.M. Our newsletters from the past year (see tab at the left) will give you a good idea of our activities, and the most recent newsletter will have up-to-date contact information and any changes in our meeting day and location.