I’ve heard about the unique beauty at Palmetto State Park in Texas for years so it was exciting to finally fit in a short stay as we journey to our winter destination in Arizona. Since we were pressed for time, I hit the hiking trails as soon as camp was set up and Terry was opening a cold beer.
The San Marcos River Trail seemed easy and offered access right behind our campsite. I decided to take Jake with me which probably wasn’t a good idea. I like a brisk pace but the poor guy can’t go the distance like he used to. I slowed down and he enjoyed some good sniffs before letting me know it was time to return to camp.
The day was overcast, adding a gloominess to the thickly treed path. I kept an eye out for timber rattlers, thankful they used the same diligence to avoid an encounter. The abundance of dead trees and hollow trunks are a perfect haven for things that slither and crawl. Even if I hadn’t read the “No Firewood Gathering” signs, I still wouldn’t have picked up one of those rotting, splintered logs.
After taking Jake back to camp, I rewarded him with a few cookies, fresh water and a pat on the head before taking off on another spur . . . actually two. I started at the Palmetto Interpretive Trail then branched off on the Ottine Swamp Trail. Having just spent a few days in the Florida swamps observing alligators, I was a bit on edge about what might be lurking behind the huge fan-shaped Palmetto leaves. The fact I kept hearing rustling in the underbrush didn’t ease a growing apprehension. I must have peered over my shoulder a dozen times in an effort to glimpse the elusive stalker dogging my steps.
Even though I didn’t “see” anyone, I still felt as though something wasn’t right. I know many of you are reading this and rolling your eyes. That’s okay. I get it. However, I’ve always had keen senses so when the hair stands up on the back of my neck, I take heed. At that particular moment, the hair on the back of my neck was at full attention.
I returned to our camp and shared my experience with the hubmeister. Terry used to be one of “those guys” mentioned in the previous paragraph who rolled his eyes and snickered but he’s learned over the years to trust my inner voice. After a little research, conversation and several glasses of wine, this is what I learned.
Bigfoot sightings abound along the San Marcos River between Luling and Gonzales. The park headquarters even has a photo taken by a camper that many believe is the Ottine Swamp Monster – as they call the cryptid in this area. A couple was hiking in 2014 and had a disturbing encounter with the elusive creature that included rocks being thrown, visual sightings and inhuman “howling”.
So there you have it. Was I being followed by Bigfoot or a Wood Ape on my hike? Probably not . . . but rest assured by the time I embellish the tale with grandiose gestures and voice inflections, my grandchildren will be comparing me to Indiana Jones.