Not long after last month's "Intercanyonnect"
trip, I was back again south of the border on a work trip, this time to southern Texas - specifically to the Austin area. Not having been to Texas before, I wanted to visit something meaningful, big - or in this case, tall. While there isn't a lot of mountain hiking in south central Texas, it turns out there is mountainous wilderness to be had in extreme western Texas - and in the process I discovered that the highpoint of Texas was an interesting and achievable objective.
In what is becoming a bit of a tradition, I managed to corral four work colleagues to come with me on this weekend adventure: Chris (Hatko), Steve, and Bunno. I warned all of them that it'd be a long drive out to the peak and a long drive back - and although it was not an especially hard hike, it was still something requiring a reasonable level of fitness. Fortunately, despite these challenges, they all enthusiastically agreed.
I planned our climb of the Texas Highpoint (which, by the way, is called Guadalupe Peak) for the weekend after our various work functions. I allocated a full day to drive out towards the peak, a day for the climb, and a day to return. Before heading out, though, a whole slew of us (more than just those who went on the hike) decided to embark on a very different sort of Texan adventure - classic Texas Barbeque. And apparently, the heart of Texan BBQ is a place called Lockhart, Texas, a short way south of Austin.
We visited three notable establishments in Lockhart: Kreuz Market Texas BBQ, Smitty's Market, and Black's BBQ. A Barbeque-crawl of sorts.
Texas BBQ is indeed a 'thing' - Brisket, Sausages, Ribs - all served with specific sides (including, strangely, plain processed white bread). The locations themselves have a lot of character, too - old-timey brick ovens and smokers, charred brown and black from decades and decades of use. The food was quite delicious - at all of the spots we visited - and it took effort to pace myself and keep from overeating.
The whole BBQ-crawl thing took longer than I had expected, and by the time we rolled out of Lockhart to start our drive west to the mountains, it was nearing 3pm. We made best speed west, passing through the San Antonio area and getting on I-10, the major east-west interstate in the area. Even so, the Guadalupe Peak area was far, far away, and although we drove for five hours straight, we were still more than two hours away from the peak by the time we decided to stop for the night.
We chose a simple and somewhat run-down little motel in the town of Fort Stockton, a small community along the interstate. Cheap and seemingly with no bedbugs, it fit the bill for us. Tomorrow morning, bright and early - the start of our Texan mountain adventure!