Environmental Studies Students Visit Enchanted Rock and Pedernales Falls
After a semester of learning about the natural world through books and lectures, students in the Environmental Studies/Physics Earth Science class had a chance to get out of the classroom and see up close some of the spectacular geography Central Texas has to offer.
On Saturday, April 14th, the group, comprised of students Kendall Guidroz, Brandi Martin, Cate Jones, Irene Lule and Emma Davis, and professor Becca Edwards, headed to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area north of Fredericksburg. Enchanted Rock is a large pink granite dome that stands 425 feet above the local topography. The dome and others like it in the area are the only above-ground parts of a large igneous batholith, or body of rock formed from cooled magma. The group climbed to the top then spent time exploring a cave and some rock formations as well as enjoying the spectacular views of the Hill Country.
After a picnic lunch, the group headed to Fredericksburg for some well-deserved ice cream, then drove to Pedernales Falls to set up camp for the night. The students quickly located a peaceful, Cypress tree-lined stretch of river for swimming and wading, which felt great after the big climb at Enchanted Rock. The group made dinner together then went on a short hike through the woods to a platform in the treetops which overlooked a waterfall flowing into the river. A campfire complete with S’mores followed and everyone was in bed early after the exciting day.
The next morning the group visited Pedernales Falls, hoping to do some exploring, but when they arrived, they noticed heavy black clouds in the western sky. They had hiked down into the river bottom by the time the wind changed from warm and humid and southeasterly to cold and northerly, indicating the passage of a cold front. Since they had learned about it in class and on the trip, the students knew that rain would be close behind the wind shift and managed to get back to the car before the heavy rain began. Before the front came through, the group was able to observe the beds of sedimentary rock visible on the sides of the river valley, which were formed at the bottom of an ancient ocean that used to cover this part of Texas. Over time, the area now known as the Texas Hill Country was raised in elevation and changed by great earthquakes that led to the hilly topography we are familiar with today. The group returned to Southwestern early Sunday afternoon to prepare for a busy end to the semester.