Enchanted Rock

I know you are waiting for the follow-up on plastic bottles.  I’m still researching so I can give you an informed opinion.  In the meantime, please enjoy this post about my favorite park.

The Rock

Located about 25 miles south of Llano, Enchanted Rock is the second largest batholith in the United States, and the largest formation of pink granite.

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Enchanted Rock as seen from the east on Loop Trail

We try to go to Enchanted Rock at least four times each year, but if we go in the summer we try to be heading home by noon due to the heat.  As the kids get older, we extend the length of the hikes, and explore a little further out.

What now rises 500 feet into the air was once a bubble of liquid magma beneath the Earth. Unlike the surrounding rock that it penetrated, the consistency of this magma created a column of hard granite. Over the next 1 billion years the movement of the Earth’s plates and erosion patterns of the planet’s weather has chipped away at the surrounding countryside. The granite, stronger than the surrounding rock, bears the weathering better and so was exposed to the surface and slowly continues to emerge. (1)

cool-rock-formation

Around the base of the dome, you will find some interesting granite  features called “hoodoos” or “mushroom stones” or “pedestal rocks”.  These used to be exfoliation slabs which have been weathered over millions of years into the shape you see today.

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Pedestal Rocks

 

Note the flat tops of the rocks to the left.  At one time, millions of years ago these where part of a large exfoliated slab.

 

Vernal pools

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What not to do when you encounter a Vernal Pool

As you venture up, you will encounter Vernal pools.   Vernal pools are very unique and consist of plants and inveterate which have created a micro ecosystem.  Depending on recent rainfall these pools can be teaming with life, including an interesting species of invertebrate, the fairy shrimp. These tiny animals survive total dehydration as fertilized eggs, and hatch into larvae and grow into adults each time sufficient water collects.

Larger pools have filled with soil over time and are grassland island oasis’ in the stone.  Stomping, trudging, or letting your dog take a bath causes damage that may take years to overcome.

Folklore

Folklore of local Tonkawa, Apache and Comanche tribes ascribes magical and spiritual powers to the rock (hence the name ‘Enchanted Rock’). While attempting to hide from Anglo settlers in the area, the natives would hide on the top two tiers of the rock, where they were invisible from the ground below. The first European to visit the area was probably Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1536. The Tonkawa, who inhabited the area in the 16th century, believed that ghost fires flickered at the top of the dome. In particular they heard unexplained creaking and groaning, which geologists attribute to the rock’s night-time contraction after being heated by the sun during the day. The name “Enchanted Rock” derives from Spanish and Anglo-Texan interpretations of such legends and related folklore; the name “Crying Rock” has also been given to the formation. (2)

Eagles

Every year we stop at the eagles’ nest on the way to and from the rock.  This is usually in late January and through February.  For many years, a pair of bald eagles have nested just off highway 29 next to the Llano River.  For a few years, there were actually two females and one male; all of who fed the young.

This year there where two hatch-lings and both survived to leave the nest.  We were lucky enough to watch the youngsters test their wings.  It was quite a site to see.juvie-eagle-testing-his-wings

After several years of nesting, the nest will become too heavy and fall to the ground.  It always starts out about five feet in diameter and two feet deep, but can grow to the size of a pick-up bed and weigh 600 – 800 pounds.

The image to the right is not an eagle landing.  It is a fledgling eagle riding the wind up and down to test his wings.  Once he gets a few feet above the next, he draws his wings back to fall back in.  He repeats this over and over, but we never get tired of watching.

 

You can search for “llano eagles” to find much better photos than the one I took shown above.

Comments on a few Gallery Photos

tree-from-a-rock

A Live-oak growing from a giant rock

You see a lot of really strange rocks at The Rock.  The image to the left has a 20 foot tree growing from the split in the boulder.  As mentioned above, notice the flat top.  At one time this was part of a huge exfoliated slab.

The image below is of a formation that we thought looks just like a turkey. You decide.  It’s about 15 feet high.

a-rock-formation-that-looks-like-a-turkey

 

 

 

 

 

Below are some images of exfoliation.  The slabs you see may have been shed a million years ago, and they are moving down the rock much slower than a glacier.exfoliation-in-motion

Most of the slabs you see today are only one to three feet thick.  One day they will all be at the bottom and transformed into gravel like that in the creek far below.exfoliation

 

 

 

 

 

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