Saturday morning I awoke to a driving rain storm. I had checked the weather reports the night before, but I was not prepared for just how hard it was actually raining. The room was cold and the bed was warm. All I wanted to do in that moment was stay in the bed. The rain was giving me the perfect excuse. “I don’t mind hiking in the rain,” I told myself. “But I won’t be able to take any pictures. What’s the point?”
There are always a million excuses not to do something and I am an excuse pro. I have missed many opportunities out of fear or laziness. Recently I have been working to push myself through these moments. I gave myself a kick in the seat of the pants and got out of bed.
Colorado Bend State Park lies about two hours northwest of where I live. I was told before going that it is a wonderful park and that Gorman Falls, which is inside the park, is one of the most beautiful places in Texas. When I hear things like that, especially since I have traveled a fair amount, I am always a little skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I was sure it was a nice spot, but the impressions of others can be colored by all sorts of things. There is a little spot back home in Tennessee that I would swear is one of the most beautiful places in the world. In reality, it’s pretty nice, but I have a ton of wonderful memories that surround it. Those memories have warped my perspective on the place.
I stopped at the park headquarters, as always, grabbed a map and a suggestion of what trail I should take. The park attendant gave me a fantastic suggestion. The hike was wonderful! I have thoroughly enjoyed every park I have been to so far. However, this was easily the best hike in Texas so far. There were critters. There were beautiful views. The changing terrain kept the hike interesting. I saw my first live armadillo since moving to Texas! The picture is not the best. I only have a short lens at the moment, but I thought I would share it anyway.
It stayed overcast and cool all day. It was great for shooting pictures. It did not rain a single drop while I was hiking. It did rain before I got to the park. That made the trail a little muddy, but a little mud between my toes was about the worst thing that happened all day!
The trail I took starts on top of a large hill. It winds through a group of trees taking you to the bottom. Then the hike continues for about a mile and a half beside the Colorado River. At the end of this segment of the trail, I started seeing signs for the Gorman Falls trail. I made my way over to the trailhead as my anticipation began to build. I was anxious to see if Gorman Falls was worth the hype.
Half way down the Gorman Falls trail, I was stopped by a park ranger. She told me to be careful walking down to the falls. She said that the trail took a 45 degree downward angle and with the rain it was extra slippery. There is a cable running along the trail to the bottom and I made sure to use it. She asked me if this was my first time in the park and I told her it was. She beamed. There was something in her eyes that said, “you are in for a treat”. She told me that I had come on a perfect day. The rain earlier in the day had made the falls especially beautiful. I thanked her and continued down to the falls.
Gripping the cable in my hand I slowly made my way down. Tiny pieces of the falls started to come into view. Each piece then came together as I took the last step down. It was like passing through some magical portal into an enchanted forest. I sat in silence just staring for as long as I could. Gorman Falls was more beautiful that I could have ever imagined. It is one of those places that can only be glimpsed in words or images. I can not believe that I almost stayed in bed.
This experience has shown me once again the value of taking chances, of exploration, and of not being lazy or afraid. If I had given in during a moment of weakness, I would have missed a wondrous experience. The saddest part is that had I stayed in bed, I would have never known what I missed. When the universe speaks to me with such a loud voice, I listen. Who knows how long each one of us has. In the hour of my death, it will not be warm beds or cold mornings I remember.
I am grateful to the state of Texas and to the Colorado Bend State Park for working everyday to protect Gorman Falls. Also, thank you to for peaking my curiosity about this incredible park.