Palo Duro: A Hiking Trip
Being from southeastern Massachusetts, I grew up with the mountains being a few hours away. There were always places to go hiking, to explore the outdoors, and to see sights in nature that you don't see right in your backyard. Being in Texas for a semester was a completely new experience when it came to the sights that I would see. Everything was flat. I mean everything. I could see storm clouds 3 hours before they would hit where I was standing, and that was impressive. Nothing I saw in Lubbock Texas could prepare me for what I saw when the ground opened up into a canyon when we approached Palo Duro, letting me know we weren't in Massachusetts anymore.
Driving north out of Lubbock, we had a two hour drive til we would reach Palo Duro. Our plan was to hike from one of the parking areas to the "Lighthouse". As we left Lubbock, it was a nice morning, but we left knowing that it would be a (fun) 106 degrees (or around there) in the canyon when we arrived to hike. The hike would be about 5.5 - 6 miles round trip in the heat. Coming from MA where it was a nice 70ish degrees that time of year, I packed my bag full of GoPro's and GoPro gear, the equivalent of a gallon of water, and a hammock. Weighing in at around 20ish pounds, I knew it would add a little bit of fun to the hike, but my bag was super comfortable, shoutout to SOVRN Republic for their Drifter HD bag.
We arrived down in the canyon after stopping to refill water bottles and hit the bathroom up at the visitors center. Right away I can remember thinking, well this is going to be a fun one, because I could already feel the sun and the heat.
So now lets get into the hike, Palo Duro took my breath away. It was something I had never been able to experience before being from MA, we don't have canyons or anything close to this kind of environment. For me, everything was new so I loved the entire thing. Walking on the sand trails up and down rocks and through a dry riverbed, something we really don't have. There were twists and turns and different sights for me to see that I simply could not experience at home. Even carrying 20ish pounds on my back, I kept going and enjoyed the entire hike out.
Now the entire time out, I wanted to climb all the way to the very tippy top of the lighthouse, but little did I know that there was about a 7ft straight section of rock I would have to traverse after climbing up about 100ft, and I really didnt think that that 7ft section would be directly on the edge. So once we got to the "platform" that was 7ft from the top, I realized that that was the highest I would be going, and even attempted to traverse the 7ft before realizing I didnt feel like falling off a cliff to my death today.
Either way the views of the canyon from the lighthouse were unheard of, and rivaled the view from the top of the canyon walls. Being so high up, yet lower than the walls really put the immense size of the canyon into perspective for me, and in my head I wondered what percentage of Rhode Island this canyon would equate too, but I don't think I will be finding out.
I highly encourage everyone visiting the area to check out the canyon, because it is the second largest canyon in the US, and its a really cool place to visit, with many other great hiking and biking trails to be checked out. I do hope to return soon with my new drone though so I can share more photos and aerial shots of the canyon.