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Past Adventures

Mineral Wells State Park & Rock Climbing 2003

The adventure includes : Rock climbing at Lake Mineral Wells State Park and a quick visit to Fort Richardson Historical State Park.

Prelude : (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for other photos and surprises.)

        A couple of months ago, I was on the DFW Outdoors web site and found this rock climbing class.  It looked interesting so I signed up for it.  I thought I had prepared enough in advance by exercising and pushing weights, but read on.  I am definitely going to double up on my rep.'s.

Star Date 05/09/03 :

        The class was held at the Lake Mineral Wells State Park which I visited last month during my West Texas Road Trip Vacation 2003.  I met up with Jim Meyer, our guide who works for Nomad Mountaineering.  Hey Jim, I'll put you web site on my link page.  Matt Horton and Chris Chevreaux were the other two students who mainly signed up for a refresher coarse since they had some prior knowledge of the sport.  We then headed down to Penitentiary Hollow where our rock cliffs were.

        Jim first started with the basic instruction of safety and made good points of having redundant anchoring for your safety ropes.  Much of the equipment were discussed such as your ropes, webbing, the carabiners, belay devices, your harness, cams and nuts for cracks in the rock, nut tool for getting nuts out and to open your favorite beverage after the climb and of coarse the chalk bag to keep your hands dry.  We also spent some time on knots such as the Figure 8.  Time to climb.

        First of all, it is not as easy as it looks and I have the scrapes and bruises to prove it.  We got to our first cliff.  Jim started it off by showing a few techniques on face climbing.  Then Chris had his try at it.  Matt was next while I belayed for him.  It was then my turn and by having someone belay for you, you can always take a break to catch your breath. 

        We then took a short break while Jim discussed the use of cracks to aid in rock climbing.  We then headed for a cliff with a good crack.  I found my crack in the rock and began my ascent.   If you wedge your hand in deep enough, you can use that technique to rest a whileMatt took a stab at it and so did Chris

        There were quite a few other climbers out as well.  We then took another break to discuss cams, nuts and anchoring.  We then had to scale another rock cliff to anchor our own ropes.  Hum, who climbing nowJim, you make it look too easy.  Once on top, Jim demonstrated more techniques on tying ropes together and the use of carabiners.  One climber up there did not use any redundancy when anchoring his safety rope.  Someone here could have done a better job by positioning his red webbing around all the trunks of the tree and not just one.  We then learned to repel down.

        Another note, we did discuss Aaron's case a little.  You Know the climber who cut his hand off due to it being pinned from a boulder in Utah that made so much news recently.   I will probably get more into this sport.  But, I won't be an idiot like him.  He stated he would continue, even solo.  Stick with the buddy system.  He was lucky.  If he had a buddy with him, he probably would not have lost his hand.  I found his photo's and his address on the Internet if you want to tell him how stupid he is for going solo.

        This was a great class!!!  It was lunch time so I headed into Mineral Wells for lunch.  Since I was this far Northwest of the DFW Metroplex, I decided to give Fort Richardson a visit.  It didn't look to far away from my map.  David and Carolyn,  this is what you might see on your Texas Fort Road Trip.  From my map, it looked like all I needed to continue West on Hwy 180 till I got to Palo Pinto.  Obviously, Palo Pinto is the county seat of Palo Pinto county.  Palo Pinto did have a small town square around the court house.  I then headed North on Farm Road 4 to Jacksboro.  To my biker friends, you would love this stretch of road.  It has all the bends, curves and up and downs for your riding pleasure.  About one third of the way to Jacksboro, I crossed the Brazos river.    Bill B., just after crossing the Brazos, there was a canoe rental facility where you could begin a good canoeing adventure from.  I finally arrived in Jacksboro and it Jacksboro is the county seat of Jack county.  Jacksboro also had a town square but, some of the building were just empty facades like that in Turkey, TX.  I finally headed South on Hwy 199 and found the entrance to Fort Richardson State Park.  I got to the park office and found out I did not have to pay since they honored my parking sticker from Lake Mineral Wells State Park.  So I grabbed a map and found the old fort grounds. 

        The soldiers quarters was actually set up as a museum inside.  The biggest structure was the hospital which was open.  I guess when you have to go, you go.  The hospital had some uncomfortable beds but, in the dinning area, the food looked as good as the food that Bill and Lois serve up.  I think I'll stick with my own kitchen.  The Morgue was conveniently located behind the hospital.   Further down was the fort's bakery and what was left of the old guard house.  They reconstructed the officer's quarters, the ammo house and the commander's home.

        I checked out the park some more and they did rent some cabins out and I found the lake which I bet was once the quarry to build the fort.   It was getting late so I headed for home.  I checked the mail and I finally received a nice slab of Ocean Jasper that I bought from a guy on EBay and Texas rock book.  Gee, I wish I had that book when I was on vacation.  Enough for now, ya'll have a great week!!!

       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!

                                                     Francis                        

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