I really wanted to go hiking in the Texas Hill Country during my stay at Travaasa Austin. It was the one thing I wanted to do more than anything else while staying at the resort. I love getting out, getting a little dirty hiking, and then going back to enjoy everything that such a place like Travaasa offers. So imagine my disappointment when I was told the hiking activities were canceled due to an impending downpour. The forecast said, without a doubt, it will rain heavily all day long during my one full day at the resort. But that was predicted before they realized I was traveling to Austin.
When I travel, it simply doesn’t rain. In all of my years, I only know of one day where I was rained out of anything I wanted to do. And that was only for an afternoon when I was recently exploring London with a friend. We were already tired from several other days out and about, so it was no problem to go back to his place and put our feet up. But everywhere else I’ve traveled – like Ireland for a week – it just hasn’t rained on me more than a little sprinkle. I’ve been very fortunate for that, and continue to count my blessings.
I thought my luck was up when I was told hiking just wouldn’t be possible in the heavy rain. Despite my fortunate past, I was surprised when I woke up the following morning to see it was an overcast day without a drop of rain; only the morning dew settled on the rolling hills. It was too late to hit the trails since I had other activities planned, but I was not to be deterred. Whether it was in rain or shine, the next morning I would get up and hit both trails in the 210 acres of Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in which Travaasa is located.
THE BLUE TRAIL
There are two trails in the hills surrounding Travaasa Austin. Both of them are approximately a mile long. The so-named blue trail is the easier one of the two, since it is largely flat and covered. In terms of the ups and downs, there’s really nothing to it. But for what it created inside of me, the trail would be hard to compare.
Shortly after starting the hike I came to both a literal and figurative crossroads. I could go right and finish the hike quicker, or go left and take the long way around. As I tramped around the left route, hustling as though I had somewhere to go, I was struck dumb. I was hurrying to enjoy the forest, but not actually slowing down and seeing the trees through it.
It was a lovely and cool morning, one which I should not have been so eager to have end. And so, from then on, I began to move more slowly, in essence stopping to smell the flowers. The canopied walkway was calming, and the occasional cairns amusing, but it is all something I do not know I would have been ready to experience until that day at Travaasa; had I gone hiking earlier, not skipping it because of the forecasted rain, I likely would not have had the same joy from a simple walk in the woods.
THE ORANGE TRAIL
A scheduled evening West Rim Hike goes around the orange trail. Like the blue trail, it is also about a mile long, but I was told slightly more difficult due to a number of stairs. As I continued from the intersection of it and the blue trail I noticed no real difference. The trail was still flat and tree-canopied, creating just as calming of a walk as what I had thus far enjoyed on the blue trail.
The atmosphere continued to guide me into a sense of calm, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was also slightly disappointed. I was told the hike would be more difficult, there would be more stairs, and so I was excited to get a little workout in that morning. But with every step I had taken thus far it had been no more difficult than walking along the city streets by my home.
Finally, nearing the end of the trail, I came to the stairs and it dawned on me: yes, what goes down must go up. I had hopped down a short staircase at the start of the blue trail, and had been on a slight decline ever since beginning the hike, so it only made sense that I had to compensate for it to return to Travaasa. It was a short climb – no more than 50 or 60 stairs – but it finally gave me what I wanted, which was a little huffing and puffing exercise with my newfound calm.
My expectations for a difficult hike in the Texas Hill Country were misguided. Coming from Colorado I should have known better. Even a little elevation change, like that at the end of the orange trail, wouldn’t affect me like someone coming from sea level. Nonetheless I anticipated something difficult with a lot of up and down. But what I got, on top of a little exercise, was a lot more valuable to me in the end; I was simply able to unplug, relax, and be happy in the moment.