The other night at 9:30, my brother and I rather spontaneously set out for Medina Lake, after at first only intending to give my Toyota Matrix XRS a short spin and perhaps trying to find some landscapes to shoot with the full or nearly full moon shining above them.
I can report that the winding road between Helotes and Medina Lake is a lot of fun in a 6-speed manual with a little zip, even if only a little bit of zip, and with a little willingness to power through the corners. As for Medina Lake, well you can see that its water level has fallen even further than its level when we visited this past January due to the protracted drought in these parts.
Even so, with the moon directly above the lake and glittering off of the waters and a strong breeze, the night was delightful. Some of these shots are hand-held and some are the result of the old use-your-tshirt-as-a-tripod school of photography. Already fearing we were, strictly speaking, pushing at our luck at being as close to the lake as we were, we did not go down as far as last time. Oh, and the grassy areas may well have been rather snake-y, which was added incentive to stay close! Even so, we were able to find some promising landscapes, both by looking toward and away from the lake.
With the beauty of the night–the twinkling water, the warm breeze–with the freedom of having my shirt off and the mild antinominianism of the whole adventure, I was reminded of the many campouts we were taken on in our boarding school in Pakistan, when we would spend a weekend near a river (one of the most storied in the world) or a dam. These weekends were adventurous for other reasons–like maybe getting to sit with the girl you liked on the trip there and back or the thrill of setting off illicit fireworks and not getting caught–but some of the most satisfying moments were just like the ones my brother and I had by Medina Lake, with the magic of moonlight and water and wind against your body and a dear friend close by.
On New Year’s Day my brother and his young son and I drove from Helotes, Texas to Medina Lake to see what we could see, having done no research on the Internet prior to going. It was a beautiful drive, passing through Texas Hill country and several small towns. Had we checked on the Internet, we would have found out that Medina Lake is currently suffering greatly from the drought that began in Texas in 2010. According to this article, which has some great pictures and information, as of November 30th the lake was 68.99 feet below “conservation pool,” which I take to be its standard level. The water has not been this low since the 1950s.
And even though Medina Lake was designed with such changes in water level in mind, it was sad to see the long, long boat ramps and pontoon docks sitting in the middle of the lake bed, long past being near the water’s edge. It must be trying times to be a lakeshore property owner there just now. I would love to see Medina Lake back at its full level, as it looks amazing in these photos of the section where we were at Bandera County Medina Lake Park, but the low water level did make for some intriguing photos. Click on any photo to see a slightly larger version.