I was so stoked to score a permit for one of the few backcountry campsites at Rick & Terry National Park! It’s a long, tough slog from the Back Porch Trailhead to the restricted site, so I got an early start at the crack of noon. The wildly popular primitive site nestles on the turquoise shores of crystal clear Lake Chlorine, tucked into a pristine valley high in the Houston Mountains of East Texas. My lungs are burning with effort as I top Chlorine Pass at a blistering 223 feet above sea level, but I’m rewarded with my first glimpse of the lake far below.
I pass breathtaking vistas of mint, dogwoods and Jasmine as I descend through the wilderness to my campsite overlooking Lake Chlorine. Finally, I arrive safely and string my hammock between a gnarly old oak and an ancient pine. My watch tells me I’ve logged 75 steps on this trek and I’m exceedingly glad to trade my boots for my comfy camp shoes.
Time to replenish all those calories I burned hauling my butt and my gear up the mountain. I break out the bear can and set up my new ultralight tri-fuel stove. Gathering a few twigs to fuel the gasifier woodstove, in just a few minutes I’ve whipped up a delicious dinner. Yum!
With a warm meal in my belly I settle in with a cup of tea to watch the sun set over the lake from the comfort of my hammock. Behind the lake I can see the ancient cliff dwellings, now fallen into disrepair. Legend has it the original occupants tossed naked virgins from the parapets into Lake Chlorine to appease the Corona gods. Alas, the toxic nature of Lake Chlorine has long since destroyed all evidence of this practice. The indigenous people vanished long ago, leaving only a weatherbeaten elderly couple to act as caretakers, and they barely remember the glory days of their youth.
Perhaps if the sacrifices had continued, the Corona gods would not wreak such vengence upon our world today.
Just as I’m about to turn in, I freeze as I spot two wild Australian Shepherds coming down to frolic in the lake! What an opportunity to observe them in their native habitat!
Although there are only a very few primitive campsites at Rick & Terry National Park, they are all quite popular and the wild dogs have become accustomed to the presence of humans in their environment. Alas, much like chipmunks, they have learned to beg from campers.
I know, I’m not supposed to feed the wildlife, but these animals have obviously already become accustomed to being fed by humans, so I relent on my usual hard line, Leave No Trace policy and I share some dinner leftovers with these magnificent animals. Before long we’re old friends and one of them approaches close enough for a selfie from the hammock.
When darkness falls, the wild dogs retreat to whatever lair they sleep in at night. I retire to my hammock to dream of the day’s adventures. In the morning I greet the sun and begin the long descent back to the porch. It’s been a great adventure, but I’m ready to return to the comforts of civilization and home.