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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Leisurely Sunday Trail?!

After a nice morning of various church services and lunch, we headed to Copper Breaks State Park.  We thought we would be meeting with a county extension agent from the area, but we arrived to the news that he had another engagement.  We had Park Ranger David take us around to see plants.  We also had the joy of seeing the park's skull room.  Along with the skulls, there were hides, prints, and insect specimens.

We learned a lot about the plants in the area as we traveled around the park.  We even learned a few of the plants we thought were interesting that were not on the contest, such as the greenfield milkweed and the horse crippler.  The 4Hers willingly wanted to learn more and the ranger was kind enough to share what he knew.  One thing that was amazing was the lake, which was only half the level it should have been.  It was devastating to the landscape and wildlife.  They received their first rain in 12 months the night before and plants were blooming everywhere but also a lot of dry plants.  We often found ourselves standing where the lake had been only a year ago.

The other thing was the fact that we were now surrounded by FFA members.  They were everywhere!  We were so thankful the ranger stuck with us.  We were happy to have the time talking with him.  He also took us out to a trail to look at plants on our own.

The park gets its names because the canyon actually breaks up and there are deposits of copper throughout the land.  The ranger told us that many of the rocks at the lower part of the trail were recently at the top!  That was a little scary since we were looking at the 4Hers heading up on those very rocks!  Also, the younger ones were right behind them!  We headed out on the trail and I thought we would make it back in about 30 minutes...but the trail was rough and we made several stops to take pictures (and catch our breathe maybe?). We were gone on the trail so long the ranger even came back to check on us!  We were just enjoying it so much, but seeing the time we knew we needed to head back to the hotel.  What I thought was gong to be a leisurely look at some plants turned into a hike on rugged land but also very helpful!

We got back to our hotel and had a nice taco dinner we had prepared.  I was so glad we made this 'home-cooked' meal as we were short for time.  We used the hotel dining area to eat so decided to continue using the area for a little more study time.  The ranger allowed us to borrow his plant ID book,  "Common Rangeland Plants of the Texas Panhandle."  I would love to have a copy of this book, along with the ones for the other regions of Texas.  We went page by page reviewing the plant ID and preferences.  I thought they had had enough so we headed back to our rooms to pack up (early morning so would need to be able to leave quickly!).  However, when I returned after taking the last load I was happily surprised to see everyone studying quietly in the hallway.

Another way I can say that our 4Hers are always trying to 'make the best better!'

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