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.

Koi and the Breeding Cycle.

The big Koi in my 5000 gallon pond are all members of the original ones that I introduced into that pond as 6 inch babies more than 25 years ago. There are  4-5 smaller ones that are fairly recent additions all in the last couple of years. In their early days, they went through the same breeding ritual that Koi do with the males beating up on the females until she deposits her eggs at which time, the males all struggle to be the ones that fertilize them. They are usually followed by the remaining fish not involved in the mating looking to gobble up the eggs as fast they can find them.  It’s a pretty messy scene and lasts for several hours and at times becomes quite violent as the males buffet the females. I have had a female jump clean out of one of the ponds during this mating process.DSC_2918

The Koi in the 5000 gallon pond have not been very active in terms of reproduction for several years but for some reason known only to themselves, decided that this was the year and the time as the males began to chase the females around. Not all of the Koi were involved and those that weren’t  went about their normal business of eating the algae while all of the action was going on around them.

This went on for two days until finally, it stopped. I was afraid that with Koi this big and as rough as it got, there would be injured or dead Koi. Sure enough, two days after they had finished, I found one of the bigger Koi dead inside the skimmer where the water had washed her in. It was a bit of a struggle to get her out with the size of her but I finally managed it. As far as I could see, there were no visible marks on her to indicate external problems or animal attacks so I came to the conclusion  that she was probably hurt either by the buffering or maybe the egg laying process, something that I was afraid might happen. It’s a shame but I have learned a long time ago that I have no control over what Nature chooses to do. I enjoyed her for 25 plus years and for that I am grateful.

This fish was 29 inches long and was 7 inches at the girth. I dragged my bathroom scales out and by a process of weighing me and then again holding the fish, figured out that she was around 15 pounds. She is not the biggest but like everything else, I hate to lose a fish. Not as much as my warm blooded pets mind you but even so…

Now she is food for the buzzards as Nature recycles her own.