I looked up at these tall pines like Buc’ee the Beaver, with the simplest country-boy delight and took off my cap, wrist blocking the sun, as they swayed back and forth, the clouds above them sailing across the town of Bastrop with bellies full of rain. We parked by the Lost Pines trailhead, suited up, adjusting our baseball caps, snapping buckles on the Camelbak, and studied the enormous pirate’s map they gave us at the ranger station. We started up the trail. Half of the trail was blocked off for a prescribed burn, and I worried we wouldn’t be able to get in our mileage, but we were going to use the ‘Old Road Bed’ to make a loop and hopefully, build up a good sweat. For someone used to Live Oak, holly, cactus, and limestone, I found myself touching the wine-colored foliage like a vintner inspecting clusters of grapes. Beautiful colors. The Blackjack oak leaves were like apple skins, and the young cottonwood trees had teardrop leaves the color of butterscotch. When the wind sifted through, they dangled like bells.
I was starting to feel very out of place. The trees were straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Was this Bastrop or Lorax State Park? The ground at the beginning of the trail was orange. The pines had long trunks like coconut trees and tufted tops that moved to and fro with the wind. Many trees of course, lay scorched, black, with alligator bark and were everywhere we went. Bone-white trunks of trees long gone, punctured the hillsides like stilts. Prairie sumac sprouted everywhere, bright as hard candy, and looked like bicycle safety flags from yesteryear.
We crossed a couple of bridges and noticed the trail went to sand, slowing our pace down considerably. Didn’t expect that. We made it up to the high point of the park, stopping for a break at the old CCC red rock hut, overlooking the valley. The hut looked like a King Koopa castle out of a Super Mario Bros game. My son got a kick out of sitting inside and cooling off in the valley winds. He styled his hair and bangs endlessly as he looked on.
My wife didn’t want us to stay too long, otherwise we’d start to get comfortable, lay out a blanket, and order beer or something. She was right. Get comfortable and the blood slows, and all of a sudden, you’re wearing flip flops, done for the day. We crossed the street, and saw the famous road that connects the Twin State Parks. We look forward to visiting Buescher tomorrow. We followed the purple trail marker and entered a hardscrabble landscape of wild ferns and grass, the pines struggling to catch up to the stature of their ancestors that were burned down in the Great Fire. We felt a little drizzle and could see large rain clouds up north moving west.
We soon beheld the highlight of our day hike. I’m glad my son got to see it. A rainbow slowly pierced the clouds, right before us, and eventually beamed across the whole sky like a Great Wand. Believe me when I tell you that never in my life have I seen a more vivid rainbow like this, the bars shining like candy.
We finished at Fehr’s Overlook, another red rock shelter with a great view of the green and yellow hills and the whooshing traffic of Hwy 71. The golden bars of light were slowly smothered out, and we headed back down the sandy trail passing row after row of pine saplings, back to our car.
Scenic Overlook Trail
Lost Pines Trail
Bastrop State Park