"The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas" were certainly witnessed by those camping over at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park (PPMSP) on Friday, Nov 8, 2013. Equestrian lovers from around Texas converged on the town of Strawn, TX located about 40 minutes west of Fort Worth and just north of I-20 (South West Palo Pinto County) for the purpose of participating in a camp over and trail ride at PPMSP at the invitation of Texas Park Ranger John Ferguson. Various groups began arriving Friday evening for BBQ and camaraderie, celebrating trail work that has been accomplished to date at the newest Texas State Park. After a fantastic dinner, campers began settling in for an evening in the northern Hill Country under big and bright stars. The campers were serenaded by trains passing in the night carrying freight and items needed by a fast paced world that was far from the thoughts of those camping out. The evening was interrupted briefly by 2 mares who decided being tied up was hampering their socializing with other horses in the immediate area. By Saturday morning, things were back to normal as more trail riders began arriving. The check in went very smoothly and efficiently as Janis Janes and Debby Alley manned the sign in tables, checked Coggins and secured required releases from participants. Even the weather cooperated as the sky was clear and the temperature was in the mid 60’s. By the time the 9 mile trail ride began, Ranger John Ferguson had confirmation that there were 66 riders!!! Janice led the 1/4 mile long group through the park with many beautiful vistas shared by all. Additionally, the work that various volunteers and organizations, including many from TETRA, had performed during the heat of the summer in clearing trails made the ride more enjoyable. Many riders were heard exclaiming how the trails were really nice and the sweat equity was definitely worth it! The riders passed through open prairies, rolling hills, and old pecan tree groves, which provided views that rival those of the North East in regards to the display of fall colors. As the riders made the final turn back into the campsite, you could tell all had a good time not only by what you heard in excited voices, but by the “big and bright” smiles on their faces. There was one voice that was missing this weekend. Barbara McKnight has been a true friend of Texas State Parks and instrumental in coordinating and communicating PPMSP related events. Barbara was not able to make this outing as she is recovering from surgery. Her smiling face was definitely missing, but the work she has done was greatly appreciated by all riders today. We look forward to her speedy recovery and to seeing her back in the saddle again!!!
Ranger John Ferguson reminded riders that other volunteer opportunities to help prepare Palo Pinto Mountains State Park for opening (Date TBD) will be announced on Facebook (under Palo Pinto Mountains State Park). TETRA Barbara McKnight, Regional Director at Large, and Jack Wilkes, Region 3 Director, will keep an eye on that site and ensure it is communicated!
If you wish to be included on the volunteer roster and contact list, please contact Barbara McKnight at 254-595- 2119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.