Caprock is now entering into our “busy” season again. The mild temperatures of the Spring and Fall render the months that make up these seasons our busiest of the year. Day users are taking advantage of the cooler temperatures out on the trails and water and electric campers enjoy the fact that there is less “strain” and pull on their equipment without the need of the air conditioner running at a constant rate. Not to mention, the equestrian users who love knowing that their beloved horse can enjoy the trails too, without the threat of biting flies and sweaty hides!
September though, proved to still be a bit warm. At least for me anyway. Temperatures were still into the 90s most days and that meant it was even hotter down into the canyons. With those hot conditions, the annual Caprock Canyons Cross Country Run was moved to a new location within the park where the trail was at an elevation above the canyons and therefore, less hot. This year, junior high and high school students from the region ran a 2 and 3 mile course along the prairie area by the north side of Lake Theo. As one of the first of this year’s cross country meets, the race was definitely great practice for these students. We are always grateful to partner with our local schools and with Valley ISD to host this event.
Caprock also hosted the Panhandle Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists in one of their training courses. These “students” learned about the prairie restoration efforts in the park, the importance and ecology of the Mexican free-tailed bat, and some of the unique ways they can contribute to Texas state parks through the Texas Master Naturalist program. If you’re not familiar with this program, but you enjoy nature and want to participate in a nature type setting, find out more about it by clicking on the link provided: https://txmn.tamu.edu/
Earth Natives Wilderness School held their annual Wildlife Tracking event for their participants toward the end of this past month as well. For this program, participants wanting to receive in depth instruction to hone their skills in wildlife tracking, travel to the park to meet up with the instructors. The unique soil substrate of Caprock Canyons makes for an ideal wildlife tracking scenario for ongoing learners. This year though, the instructors offered up a Wildlife Tracking 101 course for beginners for the general public at the park which turned out to be a great success. We really enjoy hosting educational groups like these and appreciate the diverse amount of expertise from others who help enhance the experience of our park visitors! Thank you Earth Natives Wilderness School! Earth Natives Wilderness School offers an array of nature based educational opportunities so check out their website at the following link: https://www.earthnativeschool.com/
And then came the biggest event of the year! BisonFest 2021! What more can we say!? BisonFest this year was another amazing event! Lots of talented food and craft vendors lined the streets of downtown Quitaque and the town was a bustle of activity. The first music entertainer of the day was David Beck’s Tejano Weekend, followed by Max Stalling, Jason Boland and the Stragglers, Cory Morrow, and finally Pat Green. And once again, all proceeds of the event went toward the Texas State Bison Herd Restoration Project! A huge thank you to the Caprock Partners Foundation and our various volunteers who helped make this event another great success!
What to See & Do This Month: Fall Foliage and Flowers!
Already we have begun to see some fall flowers blooming! Look for the brilliant purple blooms of Blazing Star also known as Gayfeather (Liatris punctata) and the beginnings of my personal favorite… the Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani) The leaves of cottonwood and western soapberry will soon begin to change as well providing a beautiful pop of gold and orange!
Get a grand view of fall foliage from the dam at Lake Theo with the changing leaves of the cottonwoods (especially when the water is calm!). See the beautiful wildflowers of fall in the prairie or along the roadsides of the scenic drive. Or, keep watching for our Fall Foliage Tours (dates TBD based on the availability of the foliage) along the Trailway!
Programs & Events:
- Canyon Walk & Talk, 10:00 a.m., Meet at the Upper South Prong Trailhead
- Caprock Van Tour, 2:00 p.m. Space is limited so reservations are required. Please call the park at (806)455-1492 to reserve your spot.
- Music in the Park featuring “The Dirt Storm Drifters” band, 6:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion
- Canyon Walk & Talk (Colors in Nature), 10:00 a.m., Meet at the Upper South Prong Trailhead
- Caprock Van Tour, 10:00 a.m., Space is limited so reservations are required. Call the park at (806)455-1492 to reserve your spot.
- Music in the Park featuring guitar by Roger Martin, 6:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion
- The Texas State Bison Herd, 7:30 p.m., Interpretive Amphitheater
- Goin’ Batty, 2:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion (program is designed for children 12 and under but all ages are welcome)
- Music in the Park featuring “The Brownlees”, 7:00 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion
- Caprock Campers Hall of Fall, 2:00 p.m., location TBD
- Goin’ Batty, 3:30 p.m., Visitor’s Center Pavilion (program is designed for children 12 and under but all ages are welcome)
Quote of the Month:
“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~unknown
Pic of the Month:
Bats and Butterflies:
From the soft, beautiful look of the butterfly, to the strange and often misunderstood bat, at first glance, there’s probably no two species that we could contrast between each other more. However, I think if we look closely enough, we can begin to see that these two species have more in common than we might think. The butterfly goes through some very significant life changes and hardships. Although it is very delicate, it’s battered wings signify its strength and voracity for life. In contrast, bats have acquired a somewhat different, less positive perception among many. Due to various myths and misunderstandings, many people view bats more as something to reckon with than a species of reverence. However, these two species are no less important than the other and both are arguably some of the most beneficial species to our very existence and environment. In a manner of speaking, pollinating insects such as butterflies and some pollinating species of bats help hold together the energy web of life by pollinating plants and food crops. Mexican free-tailed bats and other insectivorous bats help keep insect populations under control and provide free pest control benefitting many agricultural crops. Many bats species and some butterflies (notably the monarch) both go into a state called torpor during the winter months. Unfortunately, both of these species are undergoing some of the same problems including habitat loss. We will see these two species this month. Both traveling to warmer climates in preparation for winter. Though our initial assessment of these two species may be very different, I encourage you to keep in mind the interconnectedness of all life’s species. This month, I encourage you to observe various pollinators and to even participate in the Texas Pollinator BioBlitz keeping in mind this concept of interconnectedness. You can learn more about the BioBlitz at the following link: https://tpwd.texas.gov/education/bioblitz We are all connected in this “web” of life. It’s delicate yet strong, intricate, and grandly designed.
See you down the trail!