I had a lovely Galentine’s Day celebration this year! This was my first ever in-person Galentine’s. Pre-pandemic, I never had a large group of close girlfriends, and post-pandemic, well, it was post-pandemic.
The day was two-fold. The morning began with a trip up to McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, TX. I’d never been to McKinney before, so this makes my 11th state park, woohoo, and earned me a new pin for my hiking bag! The trip is about an hour from me, and it was a bit harrowing because a cold front was coming in with extremely strong gusts of wind. My car got hit with one so strong it nearly knocked me into another lane at one point! But I made it there safely and met up with my friend Sarah. In the afternoon, there was a guided Galentine’s hike scheduled through the park rangers, but Sarah and I wanted to explore the park a little beforehand. The plan was to cross the creek if it was low enough, hike for an hour or so, have a picnic lunch, and be back and ready in time for the official meet-up.
So…that plan didn’t work out at all. Heh.
As I said, a cold front was in the process of coming through. By the time we reached Austin, it was in the 40s out and super windy. The creek was probably crossable, but would have involved changing into our water shoes and getting very cold/wet feet. There was also a danger of slipping, which would have gotten our clothes wet on a cold and windy day, plus I had my dedicated camera with me. All in all, we decided not to risk it and to stay on the near side of the creek to hike. And that was okay! It was a beautiful trail that we took, with terrain that ranged from “looks like we’re on the moon” limestone formations** to rocky outcroppings. We hiked from the lower falls to the upper falls, passing a 600+ year old bald cypress tree named Old Baldy, then back around in a loop to move our cars closer to where the guided hike would begin.
It was a good thing we decided to do this last part, because the cold front reached a breaking point at that moment. We started getting a few sprinkles on us as we got to the cars, and by the time we were driving to the second location, it was pouring. Instead of a picnic, we ate in our cars, and then ran to the visitor’s center in stinging hail to see if the guided hike was still going to happen at all. Thankfully, the storm only lasted about 45 mins and ended just in time for the sun to break through the clouds at the start of the guided hike!
There were eight of us – including six from my hiking group – plus two park rangers on the guided hike. We basically did the reverse of what Sarah and I had already done, from upper to lower falls and back. At the halfway point, we stopped on the moon-surface-rock to discuss a half-dozen famous female activists in conservationism. There were, of course, tons of photos and videos and selfies along the way. Despite all the things that went wrong, it was kind of a perfect day anyway. Plus, it left me wanting to go back to McKinney Falls under different circumstances to explore more of the park!
The day was already a two-parter for me, but to top it off, there was meant to be another Galentine’s celebration in town. A handful of friends were planning to gather at a local park for a picnic. However, that ended up delayed/postponed for several reasons, so hey, it’s another little late-Galentine’s celebration to look forward to! I like this Galentine’s thing!
**Apparently, people actually come to film at this part of the park when they need surface that looks moon-like or other-planet-like. Ha! The things you learn on a guided hike!