Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 13, 2015

Hill Country Bushwhacking

John Muir, regarded as our nation’s most influential naturalist and conservationist, said, “Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” There is indeed something of great value in taking the time to travel down dirt paths — or any rugged paths that challenge you and require you to pay greater attention to your surroundings.

This past weekend, several in our family enjoyed a mini-reunion at a spot in the Texas Hill Country that is near and dear to our hearts — a place where we watched our kids enjoy the great outdoors. Returning to this spot so many years later with those same kids now grown and with kids of their own was absolutely cool.

Family Hike Selfie
In addition to enjoying some fabulous meals, lots of laughter, and reminiscing around the fire, we spent time hiking down dirt and rock-strewn paths in the hills, with little ones in tow. What a beautiful thing it was to have three generations together, enjoying one another’s company under beautiful Texas skies.

I especially enjoyed the time I spent trekking with my nephews Clinton and Ryan. I watched both of these boys and my own kids grow up together on the many weekends we spent in the Hill Country. As soon as I arrived, Clint and I took a familiarization hike down Flat Creek — a picturesque cold water creek that eventually winds its way to the Frio River. We had a great time together.

Ryan Hill Country Cave
Later, when my nephew Ryan arrived, we set off on a couple of bushwhacking hikes through the hills — making our own trails. Ryan wanted to find an old limestone cave he had stumbled across as a kid. So, we set off through the hills like a couple of billy goats, weaving our way upward through stands of cedar, pine, mountain laurel, maple, and elm trees.

Omar Hill Country Hike
As we hiked, Ryan and I talked a lot about the joy and benefits of getting off the trail and blazing our own. Bushwhacking involves navigating from a known point through an unknown area to another known point on the map. The time we spent meandering up a hill through dense growth left its mark on our legs and arms. No big deal. It was all worth it when we reached the top of the hill where we enjoyed a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside.

Ryan Atop Hill
My friend Russell Almond, a member of my Band of Fathers core group, often reminds his son that difficult paths can lead to beautiful places. I absolutely agree. And, it seems that the more layers of difficulty you have to overcome to reach those places, the more beautiful your destination seems. That was certainly the case when Ryan and I reached the top of the hill. While we enjoyed the journey, the destination was breathtaking.

Fallen Tree A in 12-2015
I’m always one to look for metaphors when spending time outdoors — those simple life lessons that can help me persevere. One of the best things about our hikes this weekend was finding an old fallen tree that inspired me when I first came across it while hiking in this area in the 1980s. The tree is still there. I added photos to a story that I wrote about this tree more than twenty-five years ago and posted on my blog a few years back. I hope you’ll take a moment to read The Fallen Tree and that you will look for opportunities in the coming year to take a few dirt paths and do a little bushwhacking of your own.


  1. wow! Been awhile since I ve seen that part of Texas. If your not careful you will start thinking the whole state is flat land! Gonna have to take the boys on a trip up that way.

    • Absolutely need to take the kids to this part of the Lone Star State. Amazingly beautiful.

  2. It was a great weekend! We really enjoyed catching up with everyone this weekend at such a special place. We look forward to the next trip

    • Enjoyed our time together, Clint. Especially enjoyed the kids and seeing them have so much fun. Look forward to the next time we can get together.

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