Don’t let the crutches fool you - Rod Hale can navigate his piece of heavily wooded heaven better than most “two-legged show-offs.”
For Hale, a self-described naturalist, keeping his chunk of heaven all to himself simply isn’t good enough and has labored for five years to create and open a handicap accessible nature trail. But the pitfalls he has encountered leave the rugged terrain of the trail looking like child’s play. After applying for nearly 100 various grants, Hale has run into closed door after closed door and he is worried his dream will never come to fruition.
Hale and his family moved to Glen Rose in 1985. Hale immediately began volunteering at Fossil Rim and even helped create a nature trail there. They found a piece of land on the eastern side of Somervell County and fell in love.
“The owner said he’d sell it for a song,” Hale said. “He thought it was worthless because you couldn’t farm or ranch on it.”
The land rolls through thick vegetation and underbrush, cedar trees, cottonwood, various types of oak and elm trees.
“When we first came down, my wife and son and I got lost when we tried to walk it,” Hale said.
His wife, Ruby, found a large oak tree she loved and they named it Ruby’s Oak. There is another large tree named The Sentinel because Hale’s granddaughter said it looks like a dragon guarding the oasis.
They bought the land and began laying down the trail in 2004.
“I’m surrounded by God’s creation,” Hale said. “I’m just a short-term steward. For the period that I’m here, I’d love to share it.”
Hale has received help with the manual labor. Over the years, Tarleton State University has sent out students to help carve out the trail. A Dallas Boy Scout troop also lent a hand in the project. The High Velocity Action Committee from Comanche Peak also came out to help.
“They came out with the best tools,” Hale said. “They came through raising a cloud of dust, they worked so hard.”
But Hale has found difficulty finding financial backers. After filling grant application after application, Hale was barely able to collect $1,000 - which he had to return since the total project will cost more than an estimated $37,000 to get started.