Enchanted Rock is a popular hiking and rock climbing area just north of Fredericksburg, Texas. We currently live about an hour and a half away, in Austin, so one day last week we decided to drive out and climb up to the top. It’s a short, sometimes steep hike, but nothing the kids couldn’t handle. We even brought our sweet dog Honey along with us. We remembered everything – backpacks, plenty of water, camera, sunscreen. Even the weather was on our side. September in Texas can be sweltering, but it was breezy and perfect.
When we arrived, there was only one other car in the parking lot (no crowds! One of the perks of world schooling!) We parked and headed for the summit trail. I should probably mention I hadn’t done this hike in about 15 years and am not exactly in tip top physical shape right now, but no worries, I knew I could do it. After a few breathless breaks where I thought my legs might completely stop working at any moment, we made it to the top! The kids were thrilled to find little pools of water from recent rains and took their shoes off to splash around. We had just about the entire rock to ourselves, so we lounged around, enjoyed the view and took a few pictures. About half an hour before sunset, we decided we should probably start heading back down so we wouldn’t get stuck hiking downhill in the dark. Without much thought, we headed down the side of the rock.
Hey, so, here’s a quick tip … don’t ever hike “without much thought” to the direction you’re going. Especially when hiking DOWN a VERY STEEP ROCK.
For some reason we felt confident that we were heading in the right direction – so confident that we didn’t pull up the map to make sure until we were halfway down and realized the wall of huge boulders in front of us was not going to be easy to get around. And by “not easy,” of course I mean it was completely impossible. We were going to have to go back up and find the right way down from the top of the rock. No big deal, right? Yes big deal, actually. Remember when I said I thought my legs my stop working? Yeah, they stopped working. I made it to the top once, but I really didn’t think I could make it up again. To make things worse, this wrong side of the rock was about twice as steep as the trail we took the first time. We couldn’t even sit and rest – the incline made it impossible. Also, the sun was setting. We had literally minutes left of sunlight. When Kai, our most worrisome kiddo, noticed, he panicked and started crying, worried that we would be lost in the dark on an unfamiliar, steep rock with nobody around for miles. Kai’s cries scared Marley, so she started crying too.
Let’s just say it was stressful.
“In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” – Tom Bodett
This is what World Schooling is all about. We brought out kids to Enchanted Rock to teach them about it’s history and geology, but instead they got lessons on teamwork, never giving up, problem solving and confidence under pressure. Getting lost was our test. And they passed with flying colors.
Roxy saw Kai crying and immediately ran to him, put her arm around his shoulder and told him she’d stay with him and not to worry. My legs felt like jello, but I knew I had to find the strength to get back up the side of the rock and find the trail. Henry grabbed my hand and helped me up and a few minutes later, we had made it. We pulled up the map and used a compass app to point us in the right direction. It was dark, but we were back on the trail, all together with no more tears, working our way back down to the bottom. By the time we got there, everybody was happy and smiling again, the kids skipping around, making shadows with the flashlight.
Did our hike go as planned? Obviously not. But when does life work out exactly as planned? Screw ups are life’s way of toughening us up for the bigger challenges ahead. And now that my kids have gotten lost once, the next time it happens, they’ll know not to panic. They’ll know we can get through it if we stick together and stay calm. They’ll know we’re capable of getting out of whatever mess we find ourselves in. Confidence doesn’t come from a school book. Confidence comes from experience. And once you have it, the world is yours.
Thanks for reading, friends!
ENCHANTED ROCK | FREDERICKSBURG, TX