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  • RPA



It couldn’t have been a crop circle, I thought to myself. There was an arrow. And a path. It was definitely a maze. It was right there on Google Earth. It was also on my wife’s GAIA app. But when we squeezed through, tonight, off-trail, to the exact location, there was nothing there. Not a trace. It didn’t add up. Yeah, there were white rocks scattered here and there, but not enough for a maze of that size. I’m guessing it was as big as a baseball diamond when it was here. And the circle was damn near perfect, too. Straight lines. The gaps, equidistant. How do you keep straight lines and equal gaps with the naked eye on something that large? But where did it go? Standing in that field today, there was no indication it was ever there. Maybe it wasn’t rocks. Maybe they cut a swath through the Prairie Tree Grass that grows here, but that wouldn’t work either. The lines were clearly white.

“Are you sure we’re on the right spot?” I asked my wife.

“I’m on it right now, “ she said. “We’ve crossed over it many times.”

The maze wasn’t on Apple Maps. Just a bald spot. Just an open field on top of a hill. But shouldn’t there be clues? Putting a maze together like that would have taken ten hours to construct and another ten to put them back. But I didn’t see enough rocks at the site to make the maze that I saw on my screen. All I had were questions standing in that open field.

Talk about Leave No Trace.

On our first attempt, we made it to the area near the open patch easily, but failed to find a way to cross over to the field. The Prairie Tea Grass on this side was lush, green, healthy. We saw many game trails but nothing with enough clearance to make it in. It was getting dark. We decided to pack it in. On our way back down, my wife looked to the left and noticed a bright pink ribbon tied to a juniper tree. Bread Crumb 1. We inspected it and surmised it was an off-trail marker, but we couldn’t explore new territory at night. We didn’t have snake guards, and hiking new areas off-trail is dangerous. It’s that simple. I was ok with it. Gave me something to toss and turn around in my head at night.

We made Attempt 2 tonight. Parked right by the water crossing on Spicewood Springs Rd. Across the street is an unmarked trail by a telephone pole wrapped with yellow crime scene tape. We took the hidden trail in and my son stopped to swing on a yellow rope hanging from a tree over Bull Creek. When we made it to the top, I pulled back the branches of the Juniper tree with the pink ribbon, and my son and wife crouched down and hiked in. We were going to follow a long slab of grey rock.

We knew the open patch of land was to our left, but there was no way in. It was all thick brush. Zebra branches of dead Cedar trees, good for nothing but poking hikers right in the titty. We finally came across a small cairn. Bread Crumb 2. We got lost, took pictures in a meadow, the pink sun rays radiating up from the horizon, and turned back to the grey rock. My wife then found the smallest, torn ribbon, hanging by a thread on a branch low to the ground. The off-trail route didn’t look promising, but we headed in, nonetheless. We saw more orange ribbons, but we were getting scratched and beat up by branches like gang member prospects walking the line. All I could think about were Western Diamondbacks with yellow eyes getting pissed off at their mimi-time, biting the ankles of trespassers in neon-colored Asics.

“It’s getting dark and we still have to go this same way back,” I grumbled. “Not good!” I said. This ‘easy’ spot to locate is probably the hardest place we’ve ever had to find in all of my hikes in Austin. Looked so damn easy, but the hike itself was turning into a maze.

“I found it,” my son exclaimed, and we squeezed through and walked onto a scorched field of dreams. The open patch felt strangely autumnal. Amber and gold colors, bare trees, and very little green. The Prairie Tea Grass here was dry and stiff as well, crackling under my footfall. It looked singed. Even the rocks seemed burnt. Is this a common place for lightning strikes? Maybe. We were at the very top of probably the highest hill in all of Bull Creek. I was at a loss, and perplexed.

I looked and looked. No maze. It had to have been constructed of all these rocks, right? But there weren’t enough of them. And they were too small, I thought, scattered across a 70 yard field. There was zero indication it was even here.

We let the riddle remain a question mark, but enjoyed the quest. We headed back into the brush and down the rocky, ankle-breaking bluff.

It’s funny. Before we scrambled up the ridge, we saw a group of trail runners on the other side of the creek. They were doing call backs to each other. They sounded like opera baritones. Some of them jumped into the creek, splashing, and crossed over to the other side. We noticed symbols on the trail that I’d never seen before. Some sort of white dust used to draw arrows, circles, and symbols, I’m guessing for a race. Left there for those who were supposed to find it, but also made to wash away.


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