Last week I attended the 35th Biennial CSSA (Cactus and Succulent Society of America) Convention in Austin. Besides the plant sales and informative presentations by international cactus experts, one day was devoted to field trips to area destinations deemed of interest to convention attendees, many of whom were from out of state as well as out of the United States. The choices were visiting Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Pedernales Falls State Park in Johnson City, San Antonio Botanical Garden in San Antonio, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area near Llano, and my choice, Westcave Preserve at Round Mountain.
Westcave Preserve covers 75 acres in southwest Travis county. The site includes grasslands and a sheltered limestone canyon that ends with an unexpected limestone cave and small waterfall. In the past the site was discovered by picnickers and trespassers, used recreationally, and abused along the way. Stalagmites and stalactites were broken off, fragile flora were destroyed, and the place was littered. Then in 1976, John Covert Watson established the nonprofit Westcave Preserve Corporation, and in 1983 a partnership was formed with the Lower Colorado River Authority to manage and sustain the site on a 99-year lease agreement, so the land is now is good hands. This is the short version of the history of the place; if you would like more specific information, go to their website at www.westcave.org
This cypress tree is thought to be about 350 years old.
The trail became a bit steep in some places, but a hand rail wire was helpful. The way it was built with the logs for steps reminded me of the trail in the rainforest on Mount Kilimanjaro.
I wasn’t quick enough to get a shot of a water moccasin as he slipped into the water, but on the way out we were there when this little garter snake made a meal of this poor little frog. But then, all God’s creatures have to eat.
So if you find yourself in the Austin area and want to explore a new place, check out the Westcave Preserve. Call 830-825-3442 and set up your visit. I was glad I chose it as my field trip.
And if you want to know more about the cactus convention, go to Cactus Are Cool at www.cactusarecool.wordpress.com