McKinney Roughs 4-26-2017


DSC_5195Finally after a couple of months away from the trails due to suddenly getting very ambitious around the garden even to the extent of cleaning out the three sheds which haven’t been cleaned in 20 years, my friend BJ and I were able to hit the trails at McKinney Roughs for the first time since January of this year. We chose McKinney because we knew that the flowers would be out and everything would be so green and I am very happy to say, we were not a bit disappointed.

We arranged to meet around 1:00 pm and the trip to Bastrop usually takes me 45 minutes but for some reason, the traffic was very heavy even at this time of the day and it took me 30 minutes just to get out of Austin. The 45 minute trip this time took me a good hour to complete. Very frustrating. I needed the walk just to calm my frazzled nerves down after dealing with the usual frustrated and frustrating idiots on the road.

We chose the Yaupon trail which I knew from previous walks would give us a good challenge as it has many ups and downs. The map claims that it is only 2.7 miles long but both BJ’s phone App and my Pedometer showed it to be closer to 4 miles and we still had another 4 miles on the return trip. Yaupon was designed to hook up to with Roadrunner and then Coyote Road to make a complete loop but somewhere along the way, floods have washed out a part of the trail alongside of the river and the trails do not connect so there is no alternative other than to backtrack. Even though under normal circumstances, I do not like backtracking, being the first time out for a while, I was perfectly happy just to be walking and didn’t mind covering the same trail in reverse. You do get a different perspective in the reverse direction and the uphills are now downhills. Of course the downhills also get reversed so you don’t gain anything on Yaupon. On a couple of the other trails, you can choose the direction to walk and make sure to walk downhill wherever possible.

Trails at Yaupon, McKinney Roughs 4-26-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

As you can imagine, everything is beautifully green, the sort of bright and fresh green that has not yet weathered in. Everywhere we looked there was fresh growth as Mother Nature performed her annual miracle of Spring. The flowers were out in abundance and we spent a lot of time just clicking away with our respective cameras, BJ with her Iphone and me with the fancy Nikon D7200 that I take all of my pictures with. Her pictures were equally as good as the ones I was taking as the cameras in the Iphones are really top notch plus the Iphone is a lot lighter than my camera. BJ tells me she even has a telephoto lens to fit her phone. Amazing…

Along the way, we came across an Oak tree that had very interesting bark to it that seemed to spiral around the tree although the pictures that I took do not really show it very well.  We also saw a couple of Buzzards perched on an electric pole. Other than keeping a close eye on us, they ignored us walking directly beneath them. Other birds were full of song and we could hear them all around us but as usual, hardly any were visible.

As we hadn’t seen each other for a while, we had a lot of catching up to do and I swear, we chatted the entire 8 mile hike about this and that and everything else although neither of us mentioned Trump  once. We arrived back at the parking lot at the main office and spent some time taking pictures of the flowers that are planted in the flower gardens that surround this beautiful place. There were not very many butterflies out, not like it will be later in the season but the flowers were a sight to behold.

Flowers at McKinney Roughs Spring 4-26-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

After comparing our respective devices both of which had different numbers on just how far we had walked and how many calories we had burned, we agreed that we had covered 8 miles, not bad for a “first time in a while” hike.

Next up, Pedernales Falls, next week.

McKinney Roughs 1-30-2017


dsc_4874The weather had warmed up a bit and the sun was shining, way too good an opportunity to not hit the trails. It was kind of a last minute decision to take another walk and I debated on which of the Parks I would go to. In the end, it was McKinney Roughs that won out and after thinking about it for a bit, I decided that I would start at the main entrance and hit Foxtail to Whitetail and then onto Pine Ridge.

I followed my customary preparation that actually had an additional item this time. I had splurged on different hiking socks that are thicker and more absorbing which meant another item to change into (and out of) before putting on my boots, grabbing my backpack, camera belt and camera, water bottle and finally my walking poles and I was ready to go. I stopped at the Office to pay my $2:00 and to chat with the ladies behind the window before heading out.

I hadn’t walked Whitetail for some time and wanted to take a look at the two ponds along the way. Both had water in them and not much else. One had a large turtle that was sunning itself. I was hoping for a heron or two but no such luck. It seems that previous sightings of birds and animals do not necessarily mean any repeats and tend to be a one off. That is, with the exception of a pair of Buzzards that were perched in a tree. I managed to get a picture of them and I believe that I took pictures of Buzzards the last time out. Not necessarily the same pair of course as they all look alike to medsc_4881

I had a couple of ladies on horseback that caught up with me and we stopped and chatted for a bit. I took their pictures and they moved on.
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I crossed from Whitetail over to Pine Ridge and followed it for almost its full length. This trail leads past several of the Zip Line Structures which were closed on this day. I guess they are only open Thursday through Sunday. Pine Ridge has a fairly steep descent into the valley that requires traversing quite a few steps which, needless to say, present their own challenge as they are not in the best of repair.

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At the bottom, there is a small stream that meanders through the valley.

The same is true going back up the other side as it too requires the use of the steps.

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After successfully negotiating this part of the trail I crossed over onto Riverside which is a steep uphill climb out of the valley until it levels out at the top for an easy walk back to the Parking Lot.

Everything with the exception of the Pine trees and of course the Cedars, have on their wintery look. There are no leaves on the Oaks and other trees and even the long  grass is brown. Doesn’t make for very appealing pictures although I suppose, it does have its own beauty. I did find my first Dandelion of the season and also a green butterfly that blended in so well that it looked like a leaf.dsc_4870

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Altogether, I covered about 4.5 miles of very enjoyable walking. McKinney Roughs is truly a great place to walk. The video below is a compilation of some of the pictures I took.

McKinney Roughs 1-30-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

McKinney Roughs 1-24-2017


dsc_4832Following my walk at Reimers Ranch and with the weather still in the 70’s and low 80’s I decided to take a walk at McKinney Roughs which is still my most favorite of all of the local parks. I asked my friend BJ if she was interested but she texted me back to tell me that she was already in the middle of a walk, so maybe another day…

I arrived at the Main Office entrance as I had already decided that I was going to walk Ridge to Woodland and then Bluff Trail Loop. I donned my usual attire and just as I had on the last walk, put on a new pair of hiking socks to soften the trails a bit. They had worked well on the previous hike just a couple of days before. Every little thing helps as you grow older. Walking on the same feet for the past 80 years does tend to put a lot of wear and tear on them.

With all of the right gear on, I walked over to the office and paid my 2 dollars.  I spent a little time  chatting to the young lady behind the desk and then set out along the way. Ridge starts just behind the Dorms and is a really easy walking trail. I followed it until it branches to Woodland and then took it to Bluff Walk Loop. I wanted to get onto Riverside and follow it along the river but it was closed due to flooding. So, I completed the Bluff Walk Loop until I met up with Valley View. There are some nice views of part of the river on Valley View.

I ran into two young guys who were followed by a large man with a very small daughter. I asked if I could take their picture and they were very happy to oblige. I gave everyone one of my cards and the little girl handed hers off to her Father as her tiny hands were full of rocks that she had collected. The young guys introduced themselves as Andre and Josh while the father was Ryan and his daughter, Lucy. As we were leaving, Ryan, who had been carrying Lucy’s carry pack on his shoulders, took it down and she immediately went into very adamant protestations that she wanted to walk and not ride. Being the good father that I assume he is or maybe because she has him wrapped around her little finger at such a tender age, Ryan obeyed her wishes and the last I saw them going around the corner, she was busy striding it out with her tiny legs, determined to keep up with the men. Oh to be young again and have your whole life in front of you.dsc_4843

I continued along the trail and got onto Riverside which would bring me back to the car park. I bumped into two more ladies who as it happens, worked at the Roughs and were taking an afternoon walk on their break. I forgot to ask their names but they very happily posed for a picture.

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From Riverside, I got onto Bobcat Ridge which brought me back to the Parking Lot. Altogether, a very enjoyable hike. As per usual, my shirt was soaked which required a change but happily, this time,  I did not have to make any running repairs to my equipment. Just like the other park, Reimers Ranch, everything is brown as we are in the depths of winter and about the only thing green are the cedars and a few of the evergreen type bushes.

Altogether, I covered around  4 1/2 miles of very pleasant walking and burned enough calories for a slice of cheesecake later in the evening.

McKinney Roughs 01-24-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

A Walk at Pedernales Falls 12-17-2016


dsc_4740My walks now are governed by the temperature/sun forecast although yesterday was a bit of an exception for this time of the year. The forecast was for temperatures to be in the middle 70’s with a sunny day with a cold front moving in directly behind it very late in the evening.

Those sort of days are not to be turned down and I made plans to drive to Pedernales Falls and take a short and easy walk. First I called my friend who unfortunately had a prior engagement so I made plans to walk on my own. Nothing unusual about that as most of my walks are alone.

Ever since spotting the Bald Eagle a while back and rescuing a little dog on another occasion, every time that I drive to Pedernales Falls I am very wary of what is going on around me just in case I might get another glance at that eagle. No such luck this time but here’s hoping.

I arrived at Pedernales and this time, there were only a couple of cars in front of me. Not like the last time when there were at least 30 of them. I paid my $3.00 and told them I was taking a short walk. I planned to park in the Horse Corral and then take a walk to the dsc_4733Duck Pond and from there to head to the Fenceline trail, back onto the South Loop and then back to the starting point. I passed one other couple who were on their way back as I walked around the pond. There was very little in the way of wildlife on the pond or anywhere else with the exception of what appeared to be a Greater Yellowlegs that was hunting in the low water, which incidentally has created two separate ponds. As I continued walking around the ponds, a guy on a trail bike caught up with me and inquired if I was lost. I told him my plans to continue to the Fenceline trail which over its full length is almost 4 miles although I was only going to walk a part of that. He took off following the North Trail.

The walk was uneventful as I strode the Fenceline trail which is very easy walking. I turned off onto a very wide trail that was not signposted but I was hoping that it would bring me back to the South Trail which eventually it did. From there, it was a straight shot back to the Horse Corral where I met two ladies who were grooming their horses having completed their ride and they let me take their picture.dsc_4752lp1

I was parked on the opposite side of the Corral from them so I wandered over to my car and changed out of my wet clothes as the temperature had been hot enough for me to sweat. Altogether I covered 4 miles of very easy walking and was extremely glad that I made the effort to get out. The drive home was uneventful as I listened to a Stephen King story on Audiophone. No Bald Eagles and no little lost dogs.

Enjoy the video.

Pedernales Falls Duckpond Walk 12-17-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

McKinney Roughs 12-13-2016


dsc_4694I was reading my e-mails as I usually do first thing in the morning. There are normally anywhere between 100 and 150 every day mostly blog related. It usually takes a good hour to go through them all. I glanced at the weather link on my computer and saw that the day was supposed to get in the 70’s and would be sunny and the hiking itch suddenly was beginning to get to me. I thought about it for about 10 seconds and told myself that a good hike was just what I should do after the inactivity of the past couple of weeks due mainly to the wet weather.

That was all I needed in the way of encouragement so I went through my usual preparations, water, apple’s, camera, sunscreen and a change of clothes and loaded up the car. First though, I emailed my walking buddy to see if she wanted to join me apologizing for the last minute arrangements and received a phone call back from her saying that she had a party she had to go to even though hiking would have been her first choice.

I drove to McKinney Roughs and entered through the main entrance. There were only a couple of cars in the lot and one couple and their dog were just heading out as I went through my usual preparations, boots, suntan lotion, camera belt, backpack, water bottle and hat. Grabbing my walking sticks I headed towards the office to sign in and pay my $2.00. On the way, I walked past the flower garden they have planted that attract so many butterflies and took a couple of pictures of them. Butterflies are frustrating camera subjects as they either fly off just when you are ready to take the picture or have their wings closed and waiting  for the right moment just as they open them can sometimes take a while and they always choose to settle on the flower furthermost away from you.

I decided that I would walk Coyote Road going down and Riverside coming back up. In retrospect, I should have done that in reverse as Riverside is one big uphill climb and would have been much easier going down. I hit Coyote Road and the very first thing I noticed was the myriad of footprints and red flag markers along the trail. The footprints both human and horse were beginning to dry and made for very difficult walking and quite hazardous as it was real easy to turn an ankle on the very rough terrain. I plodded on taking great care where I stepped which slowed me down even slower than I normally walk but as it was turning out to be a hot day and very pleasant to walk in, I was not really complaining. I passed a couple of places where the horse riders can rest their animals and take a rest themselves. It’s great to see how LCRA as the park owners try to cultivate an active interest with the people that use their parks.

I passed a clump of very small flowers and on the way coming back, there were still a lot of the little yellow daisies on the level part of Riverside. The trees are beginning to turn very brown and many have already shed their leaves. Everything has a decidedly winter look to it with more browns than greens as you will see by the video. Still, it was great to get out after the past two weeks of relative inactivity. I had the trails to myself and didn’t see any other hikers. I guess the people in the parking lot ahead of me took different trails than me.

Enjoy the video.

McKinney Roughs Slideshow 12-13-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Walking at McKinney Roughs with friends 11-16-2016


dsc_4459-panoMy friend Gloria called me in the morning to see if I wanted to go with them on another walk at our most favorite spot, McKinney Roughs Nature Center in Bastrop. I was ready to hit the trails again and it was a toss up between hiking with friends or chopping down overgrown stuff in my yard. It was really a no brainer making that decision.

We planned to meet at the main entrance and this time, I managed to beat them there. Usually, they are waiting for me. The Center had a lot going on one of which was a training session for First Responders. There was also a large group of kids who were learning about Nature. They were from a Private School.

Bobby, one of their dogs managed to get away from them as they got out of the car and came tearing across the blacktop to greet me. A really nice welcome, I thought as Gloria and George along with Nina, their other dog caught up.

I planned to take them on the inside loop of trails comprising of Woodland, Bluff Trail Loop and then back onto Ridge to complete the loop. These trails are very pleasant and easy walking with many park benches along the way. We passed a couple of other walkers going in the opposite direction but otherwise, we had the trail to ourselves.

Altogether, we covered a little over 3 miles and  we said our goodbyes in the Parking Lot. I decided that I would drive to the Hwy 71 Trailhead and take a look at the Zipline which was now open. There were several cars at the building but no one on the ziplines that started the sequence. Guess I need to come back on the weekend to see some action. It is not that I wanted to try it out but rather to take pictures of the other heartier and braver souls than me.

I drove straight home ignoring the danger signals from my body that were insisting that I drive into Bastrop to satisfy my Starbucks cravings. I kept telling myself that it could wait until I hit Austin which is what I eventually did. The last time I went to the Bastrop Starbucks just a couple of days ago, I waited in the drive up line for 25 minutes and that was after them not checking in when my car was at the ordering station. I had to order at the window but to be fair, they did not charge me for my drink. I have no idea why they took so long unless the whole staff were just having a bad day.

Below is a slide show of the hike.

McKinney Roughs with Gloria and George 11-16-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Walking McKinney Roughs 10-16-2016


dsc_4226-panoIt was time to walk as I headed for my most favorite of walking places, McKinney Roughs. I arrived at the Park and there were several cars in the parking area so I thought I might run into some people out on the trail.

Following my usual routine of boots, hat, neckerchief around my forehead, water and backpack along with my camera belt and camera and I was ready to go. I decided that I would start off along Riverside and then onto Pine Ridge and hike it for its full distance, steps and all. Actually, I ended up taking Cypress so that I could walk alongside of the river just in case there might be some wildlife around but that  was after I had reconnoitered the many steps both up and down Pine Ridge.

I was in the area where the Zip Lines are being built and it looked like they were real close to be opened for the Public. The lady in the office had told me they would be testing everything “next week” before they could be opened.

From Cypress, where I had met another hiker taking a rest on one of the picnic tables, I headed up Riverside for a short distance before taking the trail to Bobcat Ridge which brought me back to the Parking Area. I met several people along the way and stopped and chatted to most of them before giving them my card and taking their picture.

Altogether, I covered a little over 4.5 miles in much cooler weather ideal for hiking. There are still a few flowers some by the office attracting a large number of butterflies.

Altogether, this is a beautiful place to hike and everything is still so very green. With the weather cooling down, there is not so much urgency to start early and consequently it was closer to 4:00 pm when I got back to the Parking Lot. I never met any horses on my trails but did catch sight of a couple that were on Whitetail.dsc_4206