Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Taking the Plunge: Jacob's Well

Getting to Jacob's Well probably would have been near impossible for us if not for GPS, but even then,  the system does have it's faults. We got nervous when the navigation told us we'd reached our destination when we were directly in the middle of a residential area with no inkling of a park to be found.
We got even more  nervous when we rolled our window down to ask a resident taking a walk, and she had no idea where it was. 
Keep calm. Call the office.
After surviving my clumsy ankle roll on a smooth narrow walkway down the side of a cliff, where I think I may have almost broke my foot (which would make the unlucky third time, but very lucky considering a broken foot is better than not surviving the fall down a cliff), during the short hike to Jacob's Well, we let our tour guide abandon us so we could stick around to experience the mysterious ancient water cave. 
We learned a lot about Hill Country geology, how the newly formed park is working hard to protect the native plants and spread awareness about water conservation, and a little about the water cave's history, including the controversy on how the it was named.  
This primitive artesian spring used to have so much water flowing through it (thousands of gallons per minute to be exact) so recently that local resident's grandfathers tell stories about how they couldn't sink into the cave if they wanted to because the pressure of the water would push them up to the surface. Unfortunately, with recent year's droughts and booming economic growth, Jacob's well stopped flowing for the very first time in 2000. 
The water source to the springs in Hill Country is provided by The Trinity Aquifer, in which only a small percentage of rainfall actually travels to, and since the surrounding ground is mostly made up of impermeable material like shale, limestone, and fossil-ferrous, fault lines allow the water to slowly move through the top layers of ground. 
Looking into the dark abyss from above left me both a little scared and extremely intrigued. Just to be safe, I ventured into the water by foot first, to make sure the center of the hole wasn't going to swallow me up. 
It was time to enjoy this endangered landmark; I HAD to take the plunge.
I figured the water would be cold (60-70F degrees is the usual), but had no idea my heart would be racing into my throat once I was swimming over a tunnel that's claimed the lives of 8 people in the not so distant past. 
Sure, those people were actually cave diving, but that minuet fact doesn't erase the power of the hole's capability. 
Looking down into the darkness, you can imagine the 4 chambers that have summoned to the subconscious mind of under-trained divers in the past, but what's impossible to imagine is the amount of underground miles this water-cave covers, ranking it as the longest in Texas. 
The stone floored creek is so unique and solid, the water crystal clear.
I carefully walked my way down the slick moss covered floor, barfoot, which was actually more like ice skating with way less grace and balance than the type of ice-skater you probably have pictured in your mind right now. 
Then I proceeded to peer pressure Patrick into being more explorative. 
His ridiculously long arms and legs allow him to go places most people can't or wont, but he didn't want to get wet just yet because he'd have to hike back to the car in soggy sneakers. 
And just went I wasn't expecting it, I heard a big splash. He'd decided to jump after all, to prove he wasn't scared. His last minute decision to have some fun almost ruined the day, though, because all he could think about after that moment was getting the water out of his ears. 
He faked a smile and kept walking, but never gave up on banging his hands into the side of his tilted head. A happy happy sad time, indeed. But with a little persistence and experimentation, he was able to free his canals of that pesky uninvited H20 just in time for our next adventure.

Have you ever jumped off a cliff?


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