Highland Lakes campers and hikers brave cold for wilderness adventures
BURNET — Camping on a brisk day in January might provide an exhilarating escape for some but could pose a few challenges for others who are not prepared for frigid temperatures.
Inks Lake State Park host Craig Davidson explained how some guests leave the park on a hasty and frostbitten note when they hadn’t planned on cold-weather camping.
“They’ll get up on a Sunday. It’s soggy, wet and cold. They pack their stuff up and say, ‘The heck with it’ and leave,” he said. “People will literally throw away a brand-new tent. We call it ‘free-tent Sunday.’”
The park, located west of Burnet off Texas 29 and Park Road 4, typically experiences its highest volume of campers in spring and fall with mild temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the day and nighttime lows in the 50s and 60s.
However, many campers brave the frigid air despite winter average lows of 33 degrees, Davidson said.
“Winter surprises you around here,” he said. “It can be kind of cold and nasty, then the sun can come out, and you’ll have spring-like weather overnight.
“I’m amazed at the tenacity of some of the campers out here.”
Satisfying a sense of adventure continues to be the biggest attraction for visitors no matter the time of year.
“It’s a good place,” said Taylor Anderson, a hiker who joined her family Jan. 1 for the Inks Lake State Park First Day Hike Rock On. “You can explore and see all these different things that you never knew could be here.”
Park features include wildlife such as migrating ducks, pelicans, gulls and loons as well as stable lake levels and natural habitats.
“We’ve got hosts that come down here from the winter in North Dakota, from Michigan, Minnesota,” Davidson said. “The daily conversation is, ‘It’s cold, but it’s not 3 (degrees) below (zero) and there’s not three feet of snow.’”
For more about park features and a calendar of events, go to http://friendsofinkslake.org or www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/inks-lake.
[tabs style=”default”] [tab title=”Photo 1″]Blake Anderson (front), Samantha Anderson, Taylor Anderson, Sandra Clough and Caleb Clough hike along Pecan Flats Trail at Inks Lake State Park in Burnet on Jan. 1 as temperatures fell to the lower 40s. Despite the colder weather, the park has experienced an influx of recreational vehicles and some tent campers, officials say. Staff photos by Connie Swinney[/tab] [tab title=”Photo 2″]Sandra Clough (right) and Samantha Anderson and her daughter, Taylor Anderson, participate in the First Day Hike Rock On at Inks Lake State Park in Burnet on Jan. 1. The trio braved the cold temperatures, which dipped to the lower 40s, with warm clothing, hats and gloves as they went on a nearly two-hour hike on Pecan Flats Trail.[/tab] [tab title=”Tips to keep warm”]TIPS TO KEEP CAMPERS AND HIKERS WARM
• Wear warm clothing you can layer (fleece, flannel and wool fabrics); avoid cotton on cold and damp days.
• Think “heads, hands and feet” with hats, gloves and warm socks.
• Prepare a camp fire in a fire pit or grill (keep wood stored in dry location).
• Invest in a propane heater (tent and RV campers alike).
• Bring along a well-insulated sleeping bag and extra blankets.[/tab] [tab title=”Highland Lakes State Parks”]STATE PARKS IN THE HIGHLAND LAKES
• Blanco State Park — located off U.S. 281 in Blanco. Call (830) 833-4333.
• Colorado Bend State Park — travel north on U.S. 281 to Lampasas, and then from the 281 and U.S. 183 intersection take FM 580 west 24 miles to Bend. Call (325) 628-3240
• Enchanted Rock State Natural Area — located south of Llano and north of Fredericksburg on RR 965. Call (830) 685-3636.
• Inks Lake State Park — located on Park Road 4 a few miles west of U.S. 281 in Burnet County. Call (512) 793-2223.
• LBJ State Park & Historic Site — located between Johnson City and Stonewall off U.S. 290. Call (830) 644-2252.
• Longhorn Cavern State Park — located on Park Road 4 about six miles west of U.S. 281 in Burnet County. Call (830) 598-2283 or visit www.longhorncaverns.com.
• Pedernales Falls State Park — travel east from Johnson City on FM 2766 until you find the entrance. Call (830) 868-7304.