Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Winter's (Bayou) Tale

Clark and I ready to start the Winters Bayou section of the Lone Star Trail.

About an hour from Houston up hwy 59 lies Cleveland, TX. Another five minutes past that is the Sam Houston National Forest which is probably the best place to hike near Houston. By best I mean "relatively pretty if you like pine trees and mostly unused except for the occasional weirdo"...wait, does that make Clark and I weirdos?!

View Winter Bayou in a larger map
Southern trail head parking on FM 2025, northern trail head parking about six miles away on FM 2666. Sidenote: the north trail head is on the north side of FM 2666.

Here is our GPS track. The diagonally line between FM 2025 and 2666 is where my GPS lost signal under the trees while driving between the trail heads.

Clark updating our progress to Note his surroundings. Winters Bayou trail is 8.4 miles of that.

Winters Bayou
Sometimes it looked like this. That isn't the trail but rather a dry stream bed.

On the topo map it looks like the Winters Bayou trail tracks a lovely stream for most of the way. With that easy access to so much water I was going to just bring one water bottle and a filter to cut down on carrying weight. At the last momment my normal dehydration paranoia kicked in and I threw an extra liter of water in my bag along with two Gatorades. Turns out I was right to be paranoid. The big, thick blue line on the map had been shrunk down to an occasional muddy, scum-filled puddle every mile or so due to the current drought conditions here. My filter probably would have got me through the hike but ended up clogged and trashed by the end.

One of the puddles was filled with frog eggs. That was kind of cool.

A widowmaker.

Primitive camping is allowed anywhere along the trail as well as in two designated campsites. A forest fire cleared out most of the underbrush so finding a good spot to pitch camp will be easy for a while yet. Keep in mind though that some pretty big trees were badly burned and killed by the fire and are just waiting to fall in a big wind! The tree Clack is standing next to had a full diameter of over two feet but the base had been burned down to less than one foot. No way would I camp anywhere near that!

One of two primitive campsites.

There are tails of Bigfoot being sighted in these woods but we didn't see anything so mysterious...except for the Very Mysterious Clam.

The Very Mysterious Clam. It was large, intact and a long ways away from any water. How did it end up on the trail? Mysterious I tell you. Very mysterious!

Later on we cam to a a Very Mysterious P. Why was there a P on this tree? What mysterious meaning did it have?

Pond stood for "pond". Not all that mysterious after all.

A partially-burned footbridge. No mystery there. No water underneath it, either.

Clark's lunch.

Clark is a outdoors gear product tester form and so he's constantly sent all sorts of outdoorsy stuff to test. This time he had assorted foods including a GoPicnic picnic pack thing. He wasn't impressed. Calorie-wise, it was much more useful for a Jazz festival or some other passive outdoors event rather than hiking for miles.

He also had to test some electrolyte-replacement drink mix.

It made his water explode and got everything sticky.

Overall, the hike was still very good time for no other reason than it was a long walk outside, the weather was perfect, yet it was close to Houston. Clark and I both agreed that adding animatronic orcs that we could hit with swords would be an awesome addition to the trail but I don't see those being installed any time soon.

If you go be warned that during the summer the mosquitoes and horseflies can be thick and bloodthirsty. During the fall and early winter hunting is allowed in certain sections of the Sam Houston National Forest, so wearing bright orange clothing is strongly recommended. Early spring is probably the best time to be on this trail though it's also probably visually the least entertaining then. But hey, it's a day (or more) out in the woods. After heavy rains the trail is reportedly very muddy, especially along the bayou itself so be ready for that. Other than the Very Mysterious Clam we saw no wildlife, though we did pass some pig hunters (I assume) coming out of the woods right at the start so they may have scared away any animals.

Other sections of the Lone Star Trail I've done:
4 Notch Loop
Little Lake Creek Loop and Pole Creek Loop
Stubblefield trail

Adventure! Excitement! Pine trees!

1 comment:

Mike_H said...

I'm thinking the clam was potentially scooped up when they were fighting the forest fire.