I decided that I wanted to go walking and this time, I chose to walk at Pedernales Falls State Park as I hadn’t been there in a while. After my usual preparations of packing fruit and water bottles and making sure that the cats are safely in their own room away from Richie, one of my male Dachshunds who, in the past has inflicted damage to both of them., I was ready to go.
The route that I take to get to the Park is usually along Fitzhugh Road until it crosses Route 12 and then continues on as West Fitzhugh Road. These are country roads and if I am lucky, I sometimes get to see Mother Nature at her best. Today was one of those days as I drove along and was about a mile from the Route 12 junction when I spotted something in the field off to my right. I am well used to seeing Buzzards collected around a dead animal but this did not look like a buzzard. For one thing, it had an all white head and neck which showed up very well as the bird was taking a long look at the road. I would say that it was about fifty feet inside the field and very visible.
I wanted to stop but there were cars behind me so I had to keep going until I found a place to turn around which I did making my way back to where I had seen the bird. My intentions were to take pictures but just as I was pulling up, the bird, who was still looking at the road, took off. Needless to say, my camera was still on the car seat and the car was still moving with not a hope in hell of taking pictures. The bird, no more than fifty feet from me was very visible and I could clearly see the white tail feathers as it flew off. I could not believe what I was seeing as it had to be a Bald Eagle. I didn’t know there were any around this part of Texas with the nearest ones at Lake Buchanan. I marveled at my good fortune in spotting this beautiful bird as it flew off but cursed under my breath that I had not gotten any pictures.
I continued on my way and hadn’t gone very far when a grey fox ran out in front of me as it bounded over to the other side of the road. It had a tail that was so bushy it was almost as big as its body. Again, no hope of a picture. I finally reached the Park entrance without seeing any more of Natures wonders, paid my money and headed to the Wolf Mountain Parking area.
Being a Sunday with cooler weather, as expected the parking area was pretty full so I knew that I would meet a lot of people on the trail. I first chose to hike the Juniper Ridge Trail and got as far as the turn off before changing my mind and decided to walk the South Loop Equestrian Trail instead. I hoped to see horses and was in luck when a group of them came by. There were eight in all, the most I have ever seen on any trail at one time. Further on down the trail, I met up with two pretty young ladies both on huge horses and looking very comfortable in the saddle. The last two proved to be the only others that I saw on this day.
I met a lot of hikers going in both directions. I should say that anyone going in the same direction as myself would very quickly pass me as I am so slow. Even though in my mind, I am making a good pace, everyone and I mean everyone has no trouble passing me. My only excuse is that I stop to take pictures but the real truth is I just don’t have any speed anymore. Many of the hikers agreed to letting me take their pictures and others I snapped as they walked away from me. One couple went by me early on the South Loop Trail with full backpacks containing a tent and full sleeping equipment. They were training for a long overnight hike . I didn’t envy them as those backpacks were huge and looked very heavy.
I didn’t stay on the South Loop and when it crossed Windmill Road, I took it towards Wolf Mountain. I knew that the Wolf Mountain Trail would be easy walking compared to some I had covered on the South Loop and for the homeward trip, thought it made the most sense. I passed another couple coming up Windmill Road who also had on pretty heavy looking backpacks. We exchanged greetings as we passed and I headed on to my way home. It seemed that I was the Trail Guide for the day as several of the groups and pairs that I met asked me for trail directions. Luckily, I have been there so many times and have learned the trails the hard way by getting lost, that I was pretty much able to put them on the right trail. There were not very many flowers blooming at this park although I did come across a cedar bridge that had been built into the trail and also one of the trees had this huge growth that made it look like something from another world.
On the way back along Wolf Mountain Trail, there were several people just heading out. It was around 4:30 pm and they still had a couple of hours of daylight, enough to walk the Wolf Mountain Trail and back. One man and his daughter let me take their picture as they branched off towards the Camping Area. Later, they caught back up with me and the wife and son came to meet them and we sort of all cruised in together into the Parking Area.
Along the trail, I came across a large pile of stones that some enterprising person(s) had very carefully stacked together.
Altogether, I covered 9.5 miles and made really good time. I was able to add quite considerably to the Aerobic steps recorded on my pedometer. Makes a huge difference when it is not 100 degrees outside. Today, the temperature was around 82 degrees and much more bearable. Walking Wolf Mountain Trail also made a difference as some of the other trails are not very wide and are rocky and uneven and hard to walk on let alone do it at any speed.
The one thing that is very noticeable now that we are into the Fall season is that this park looks very drab as compared to those on the East side of Austin. Even the greens are not very bright and of course the Cedars always look drab which is what ninety five percent of the vegetation is at this Park. Altogether though, it was a very enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to get back here again.