Austin, Hipstercrite Life, Travel

Thanksgiving 2013: The Time We Got Lost on Death Mountain a.k.a. Enchanted Rock

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Our Thanksgiving involved us getting lost in the woods, narrowly escaping an attack from a porcupine and my boyfriend turning 40 and then promptly falling down and breaking his rib. Because that’s what you do when you turn 40.

Geoff wanted to celebrate this rite of passage by climbing Enchanted Rock. For those of you who are not from Texas, Enchanted Rock is neither enchanted nor a rock. It’s a small, bald mountain in the middle of the countryside that boasts an impressive view of…the countryside. The word “enchanted” implies that there is magic on top of that rock, and though the area is deeply rooted in Native American lore, I did not see any goddamn magic performed on top of that small, bald mount. I would like to petition that Enchanted Rock be renamed, “Gigantic, foliage-impaired land mass”.

See here:

enchanted rock

This picture is a little misleading. This makes Enchanted Rock and the area around it look pleasant, but don’t be fooled. It’s indeed Satan’s playground.

You might gather from my tone that I have slight resentment toward Enchanted Rock. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful place, but only during the day. At night it’s the place of children’s nightmares.

Why is it so terrifying, you ask?

Well, when you’re lost in the wooded boulders of a mountain on a moonless night with no flashlight and a parent with an ankle injury, images of an armless James Franco AND bottle-knuckled Liam Neeson JUST KEEP PLAYING ON CONSTANT LOOP IN YOUR HEAD.

I will tell you this: Screaming “HELP ME!!!” into the blackness of night for 30 minutes and getting no response puts you through the fives stages of grief. You start out completely panicky and by the end you’re hearing an angelic boy’s choir singing off in the distance and everything seems pretty awesome.

I’ll condense the first half of the story for you and then hightail it to the part where we get lost. My boyfriend, his parents and I climbed up Enchanted Rock like any normal people do. We laughed, we took pictures and we stared at a lot of countryside.

Where the story shifts to nightmares is when my boyfriend decided to take the four of us, one who is having difficulty walking, BEHIND Enchanted Rock as the sun is going down. “Oh, don’t worry. There are paths on the other side.” If a path means death traps that we later have to crawl through, then he was correct.

Enchant Rock doesn’t have clearly defined markers for their trails. Sure, the actual bald mountain doesn’t need signs (you just go up and down), but the area surround it is wooded, boulder-y and pee-inducing. To get to the area behind the rock, you have to walk through a narrow creek bed that is full of water and giant boulders that make tiny holes for animals to lunge out from. Five minutes into the walk, I spotted a wee animal with a bright-eyed face and an adorable striped tail scurrying near us. He looked like a lemur, but why would a lemur be out on the Texan countryside? It was then that I became terrified. “Uh, I don’t like this. Can we go back?” Being the anxious gal that I am, my boyfriend and his parents brushed off my concern and encouraged me to move on. It was shortly thereafter that we spotted a porcupine and that is when I was like, “Fuuuuuuck this.” Somehow I still managed to be talked into continuing down the “path.” It may have been because my boyfriend said he knew where he was going, or maybe because I wanted to prove that I’m not a bundle a nerves that is afraid of lemurs. Because they’re cute, right?

After we climbed out of the creek, we discovered that there was no distinct path. And there were no people. Because everyone was smart enough to get down off that friggin’ mountain before nightfall. Realizing he had no idea which way he was going and that there was a possibility of a confused deer darting into our heads, we decided to turn back while we still had a sliver of light.

You know when you’re swimming out in the ocean and the water gets deep enough that you can’t tell if there is a giant rock or shark at your feet? This is what it was like the last 15 minutes of sunlight. I couldn’t tell if I was walking into a boulder or about to hug a small bear. Then, the light just went away. There was nothing. No moon, no stars and no park lights. I could see the occasional headlight pass near the entrance of the park. We were only about a mile from a campsite, but it felt like we were stranded in the middle of the ocean. Or at least I did. Maybe Geoff and his parents enjoyed silently dancing with small bears.

Because we had no flashlight, we used Geoff’s flash on his phone to illuminate the way. That meant that Geoff took a series of photographs throughout our blind journey back to civilization, many of me hunched over and creeping in front of him with a look similar to that of constipation. Here is one that he took after he SEPARATED FROM ME AND DIDN’T TELL ME THAT HE WAS GOING BACK TO GET HIS PARENTS.


It took awhile for me to realize that I was walking in the middle of the darkness by myself. I breathlessly called Geoff’s name to no response. It was then that I gave up on life. I just sat down and decided that I was going to die that night up on Enchanted Rock. A mountain lion was eyeballing me from ten feet away, I figured. At least it would attack the jugular and I would die quickly. Geoff had gone back to find his parents in the dark and when we reconvened, we decided we should sleep on Enchanted Rock with the porcupines and mountain lions in the 40 degree temperature. If we survived, it would make for a good story.

We were stuck in the pitch blackness of Texas for about an hour before I saw two bright lights off in the distance. I yelled out to them and they responded. They were two smart young men with head lamps who were looking for a place to camp. I asked them if they could walk us down the side of the mountain, and they obliged. We handed them lots of money.

We were famished after our rescue, so we drove into the quaint German settlement known as Fredericksburg and ate pizza from a woman who sadly smoked her e-cig in between stops at our table. We noticed that the town square had a beautiful holiday light display and it was here that my boyfriend fell and broke his rib and possibly retore his rotator cuff. In front of a goddamn German Christmas  pyramid with rotating German dolls dancing on. We survived two hours up on Enchanted Rock with no flashlight, mountain lions circling us and boulder homes for stripe-tailed animals without a single injury. It was the Christmas light display that got him.

They always do.

enchanted rock

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  • Reply Carol December 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    How can you say the place isn’t enchanted? Did you not hear “an angelic boy’s choir singing off in the distance?” Hee hee

  • Reply Carol December 4, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    How can you say the place isn’t enchanted? Did you not hear “an angelic boy’s choir singing off in the distance?”

  • Reply Eddy December 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    It might have been an unnecessary and elaborately choreographed distraction, but at least you’ve long since forgotten about that giant tumor in your head. Er, oops.

    Happy trails, to youuu….

  • Reply Lauren December 5, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Wow, what an adventure! That’s a story for the books.

  • Reply Elisa December 5, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I did this to myself over the summer – got separated from friends on a hike – but in daylight. And it was still panic-inducing. Maybe the worst part is how goddamn stupid you feel afterwards. Glad everyone is *mostly* OK 🙂

  • Reply Ebon J October 20, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Yep same thing happened to me this weekend accept it was 2 hours in the dark looking for a way out. We ended up walking around the whole damned rock before we found the parking lot! hahahaha

    • Reply Ebon J October 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      *except* not accept.

  • Reply Mina October 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Gosh I wish hippies and hipsters didn’t exist in Texas…

  • Reply John davi May 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Try to again. My first experience was great and went by myself. I stayed on that rock I til 1030 pm. Good lord it was beautiful ! Just pick a landmark of the bottom when you get to the top. Its with seeing the stars. At this time of year there will be a dew people left at night and oh yeah…invest in a high illuminating flash light and 2 gallons of water lol

  • Reply Debi December 31, 2015 at 1:09 am

    maybe we need support group. It’s 1 am and we just got home after being shown the way down from that same rock by a rescue team of four who managed to lead us through what I think I heard them call “Boulder Alley.”

  • Reply Michelle March 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I found this blog post today and cannot stop laughing–I said some of the exact same things to my husband when we were hiking yesterday!

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