George and Gloria, my hiking buddies and good friends along with the two dogs, Bobby and Nina went for a hike at McKinney which is one of our favorite places. I, for one, never tire of these walks at this place. It is normally very quiet and peaceful and we usually have the place pretty much to ourselves.
This time was a little different. I arrived first and discovered that the parking lot was full of horse trailers with countless horses and riders milling around all in various states of preparedness. Some were getting ready to ride and others were watering their horses and tending to them prior to loading them back into their trailers. I wandered around as I waited for my friends and took a few pictures and chatted to several of the riders. One lady told me that she and her friend had hauled their trailer down from Dallas to ride in the park. This was the busiest that I had ever seen the parking lot in the many times that I have hiked here and it was great to see so many people availing themselves of this beautiful park.
My friends arrived and they too commented on how busy it was as we prepared to hike off into the woods. We decided to take the same trail that I had walked the last time I was here a week or so ago. So, with Bobby leading the way and Nina bringing up the rear, off we went on our hike. In a weeks time, nearly all of the flowers were gone and the only plant that really was putting on a show was the American Beauty Berry bush. There were many of them all covered with their purple berries and we passed many of them the entire length of the walk.
Along the way, as could be expected, we crossed trails with many of the horses and riders as they availed themselves to the beauties of nature and this park. Rules of etiquette called for us to give way to the horses which was a bit of a no-brainer considering how much bigger they are than us. I took this opportunity to take pictures of horses and riders and they were all more than willing to pose for me. Even the horses appeared to perk up when I pointed the camera at them.
We were seated by the 200 year old Pecan tree taking a rest as a couple young guys on their horses came along. They stopped and chatted to us and as usual, I took their pictures. One of them said that he was from Colorado and had horses back there. He gave us a quick demonstration of how he could back his horse which impressed us with both the horses and riders skills. They trotted off and it was very obvious that they and horses were no strangers to each other.
At one point, we came across a giant tree that had either been struck by lightning or was so old that the core of the tree had rotted out causing the tree to come down in one of the mini storms we recently had. The Park maintenance staff had cleared it from the trail and I was able to take a picture showing the inside of the tree. Judging from the size, I imagine it too was well over a hundred years old. Even giant trees have a life limit.
We continued with our hike and we also passed several lone hikers going in the opposite direction. I guess as the weather begins to cool down, more people are availing themselves of the great outdoors. When we arrived back in the parking lot, it had emptied considerably as many of the horse trailers had pulled out. There were still a couple left and the horse and riders appeared as we were standing around and talking. We exchanged comments as they evoked surprise that we were still there. We in turn, good naturedly remarked that we had actually hiked five miles on our own feet, all in good fun.
My friends left along with Bobby and Nina and true to form, I headed into Bastrop to the local Starbucks, my usual way to end the hike at McKinney Roughs.