McKinney Roughs 4/20/2018


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My friend BJ and I went for a walk at McKinney Roughs. It was such a beautiful day and even though the sun was shining, was not yet very hot and a wonderful day to be outside.

After a brief conversation, we opted to walk Yaupon mainly because it was a change from always taking the trails that lead to the river. Yaupon is an interesting trail due to its many ups and downs with the ups always in the direction you are walking. It is not difficult but in places, where there are a lot of loose pebbles, it can be tricky walking. The trail follows Pope Bend Road for much of its length and we would be welcomed by the occasional dog barking to let us know not to trespass on his territory. As we had no intentions of deviating from the trail, the dogs were perfectly safe.

Towards the end of the trail out, a young lady and her small dog passed us at a pace much faster than we could muster although my partner, BJ walks much faster than I do. For me it is not speed but distance covered. Besides, I am always stopping to take pictures. I took over 100 on this walk.

We almost reached the Pope Bend Trailhead before turning back and heading in the reverse direction. I don’t normally like to back track but in this case, there is no choice as there is still a blocked trail that prevents us from completing the loop by taking Roadrunner and then Coyote Road back to the parking lot. We slowly made our way back only this time, all of the uphills we have walked on our way out had reversed themselves and it appeared that we had to walk uphill all over again.

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The young lady with the dog finally caught up with us for the second time on her way back. She was still walking much faster than we were. Oh to be young again…We finally arrived back in the Parking Lot and when BJ looked to see what time it was, she was very surprised to see it was almost 6:00 pm. We had started out at 1:30 or so. When I checked my pedometer, it was reading 9 miles although the official distance is around 5 miles out and back. My pedometer is set up at 29 inch steps for me with my short legs and when it counts my steps and then computes the distance covered, its always going to be different. All we both knew was that we were both very tired.

Distance or not, it was still a great walk as this is such a beautiful time of the year with everything so green and all of the Spring flowers out in all of their glory.

I put together a slideshow of the Trails that we walked.

And the Spring Flowers

Enjoy
Written 4/24/2018

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A Walk at Reimers 4-4-2018


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My buddy George, who has been staying with me for a couple of days, suggested we should take a walk which I thought was an excellent idea. I chose to go back to Reimers Ranch as I like the long distance and panoramic shots that I can take there plus there is always the possibility of catching site of the Osprey.

Reimers Ranch has many trails including one that encircles the entire park, With the focal point of the Park being the Pedernales River, there are two trails close to the river that entails going down anyone of the four access points. The first one is located on the first parking lot  which is named the Rock Climbing Parking.  This is a favorite parking area for the Rock Climbers as they pursue their hazardous sport. This entrance is not for the faint of heart as it requires scrambling down a rocky trail and a certain amount of actual climbing over and around the rocks. Even when you have traversed the way down, the river trail also requires a certain amount of scrambling over very rocky terrain.

The second parking lot is known as River Bend Parking which is a lot more accessible to the river and the trails. It has a wide concrete road leading down to the swimming and lower trail area. Vehicles can drive down to unload but cannot park anywhere at the bottom and must drive back out to park.

The third parking area is known as River View Parking #1 and further along is the last of the parking areas known as River View Parking #2. Both of these have very tricky entrances to the river trails below as they are both on steep  rocky hillsides that have been crudely shaped with rocky steps. Both require considerable care in negotiating the trails and again, they are designed for the rock climbers who scale the cliff faces at this end of the Park. In the last three cases, once down on the river trail, it is a very nice walk with a little scrambling here and there and it is possible to go all the way to the northernmost end of the Park and complete the loop by taking the Wild Turkey Trail and then the Multi Use Trail back to whatever parking lot originally chosen.

There is also a gravel path that starts at the very first parking area on the top of the Bluff and leads all of the way following the river as close as possible and ends at the last parking lot.

We opted to park in the second lot, River Bend Parking, the one with the ramp leading down to the river and the swimming area and then took the lower trail heading towards the Northernmost end of the Park. We didn’t plan on walking the entire length of the trail but only as far as the last parking area.

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Both of these shots are panoramas made up of at least 5 separate vertical pictures

We passed several people, some with their dogs and exchanged greetings. Some stopped to chat with us whilst others just had a short hello as they passed. The River activity was really busy with several kayaks going in both directions and other people walking along the river bed. The weather was great and the sun was warm and it was obvious that people were just glad to get out and enjoy it all. Mother Nature was putting on a grand display as things began to burst forth. I really like the “new” green at this time of the year before the leaves and things begin to darken.

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On the opposite bank, I could see several large white shapes but could not identify them. I switched cameras and with the long lens saw they were cactus in flower. The flowers had to be huge as even at a distance, they are big. Below are the pictures I took.

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The spring flowers are beginning to show.

George suffers from vertigo and did not feel confidant enough in his ability to climb either of the two stone staircases to the last two exits to get back to the top so we decided to backtrack along the way we had come, finally making it back to the concrete ramp, which is also quite a steep climb and then back to the truck.

There is an interesting cave in the opposite cliff face and also the owners of the property across on the other side have built a stairway leading down to the river. That must have been a very interesting project.

As usual, Reimers did not disappoint and it was great to be out there walking again even on a weekend with lots of people around. Oh yes, no Osprey…

Written 4/7/2018

 

Hiking McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018


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This Pano is made up of 12 vertical pictures

My friend B.J. called to see if I wanted to take a hike. I had been thinking about it and her call quickly made up my mind for me.  I had a Doctors appointment in the morning so we arranged to meet around 12:30 pm or so. She suggested McKinney Falls which has a nice blacktop pathway that circles the park. Easy walking seemed like a good idea. I arrived at McKinney Falls only to find a long line of cars that extended down the main highway. Quick to react, I texted B.J. to tell her to head for McKinney Roughs and that I would be about 25 minutes behind her. Neither of us like crowded trailways and lots of people around. Kinda defeats the purpose.

B.J. was already there when I arrived at McKinney Roughs sitting and enjoying the sun. As usual, it took me a while  to get all of my gear together and this time, I opted for just one camera with the Tamron 16-300 lens which is my goto lens for general photography work. I like it because not only can I get a good distance shot, I can also take close ups, almost macro’s.

We opted to take the trails that are within the center of the park and started off by walking down Ridge until we came to Bluff Trail Loop. As the name suggests, it is a fairly big loop with easy walking trails although a bit steep in a some places. Sometimes, it seemed like a lot of uphills. The completed Loop brought us back onto Ridge from which, we walked Woodland back to the Parking Lot. The entire loop was around 4.4 miles of very pleasant walking and lots of interesting conversation. At the very start of the walk, we passed a Live Oak that had a vine attached to it that had quite literally, grown into the bark that covers the tree as the picture shows.

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Along the way, we met several people who, like us, were enjoying the great outdoors. One lady stopped to talk to us and she had a couple of friendly Texas Cattle Dogs to keep her company. Both were on leashes and they were big enough to help going up the hilly parts of the trail.

When we arrived back in the Office and Garden area, we spent some time looking at the ponds and the new flower plantings that they have just done. One of the Park employees came over and chatted to us about the flowers. He was very interesting and knowledgeable and could even quote the Latin names of the plants. He directed us to one Mountain Laurel bush that had a lot of flowers and mentioned that they had spotted something like 20 different species of butterfly in the past few days but there were not any that I could take a picture as we stood there.

We walked back to our vehicles and chatted a while longer before we parted company, B.J. to go grocery shopping in Bastrop which is where she lives and me for the long drive home. Altogether, a very delightful hike.

Below is a video of the different trails that we covered.

McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 03/18/2018

 

McKinney Roughs 3-6-2018


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The Colorado River.This pano is made up of 4 different vertical pictures.

I decided that I had sat around long enough and that it was time to hit the trails again. This time, I chose to go back to McKinney Roughs as I haven’ t been there for a while. I arrived at the Main Parking Lot around 1:00 pm and being a Monday, the lot was pretty empty as I knew it would be. The lady in the Office in answer to my question, “That no, the big loop is not yet finished as they are building a new bridge”. She did say that they are working on it and that it shouldn’t be too long. I paid my $3.00 and thanked her for the information and went back to my truck.

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This is a pano of 3 different pictures

For those of you that read my blogs know that it takes me a while to get ready for a hike what with changing boots putting on the camera harness and backpack. It has been some time and the Cotton carrying systems that I use for my cameras  needed some attention before I could put it on. I finally got it straightened away and hooked up two cameras and my Bino’s. What I didn’t remember until I got out onto the trails was that I had removed part of the system that connects to the cameras the last time I filmed the Pond Meeting and had not paid enough attention in replacing them. Consequently, I had to make some adjustments out on the trail in order for the cameras to remove smoothly from the holders. It was not a big job and only required an allan wrench to do it but the wrench was in my backpack which I had to take the off in order to retrieve the wrench before making the adjustments. None of it earth shattering but aggravating all the same.

I finally got it all squared away and continued along the Riverside Trail marveling at the beauty of the day as I walked. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it was not too hot. What more could this old man ask for. An LCRA truck pulled up alongside of me and the driver, “Just to let you know” informed me that there was a big machine up ahead that was cutting down the underbrush and to be careful.

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Showing the clearing work that the Loader has been doing.

I thanked him for the information and continued on my way. I came upon the Loader but it was parked so I did not have to worry about getting run over or mulched up by the gadget on the front.

All around me were signs of spring. Many of the Oak trees already had new leaves showing. There was a Blackthorn Bush that was just covered in flowers and I even saw a couple of butterfly’s although they wouldn’t settle for a picture. The trail leading through the trees just after the riverfront had green grass . Some of the trail was a bit rough in places where it had rained and then horses and people had walked on the wet trails leaving footprints  that had not yet smoothed out. As I headed down towards the river I marveled at the beauty all around me. My attention was drawn to a rock that had different colored moss growing on it and when I got close enough, there was also a small  yellow flower growing alongside of it.

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This particular trail leads right alongside of the River for about a half mile. I passed one older gentleman that was just packing up his fishing gear ready to leave. Other than him, there was no activity on the river, no egrets or herons nor many other birds that I could see. I could hear them but they were well hidden. I followed Riverside Trail until it meets up with Coyote Road which I knew would bring me back to the Parking Lot. On my way up Coyote, a guy on a bike passed me. That is the first bike that I have ever seen on these trails which are generally not open to bikes. Then an  energetic young man who was running the trail passed me going in the opposite direction.  Near the end of the walk, I met yet another runner. It was a great day for any sort of physical activity. I arrived back at my truck thankful to be still be able to walk on these hikes. Altogether, I covered 5.5 miles and I could tell that I hadn’t been out on the trails for some time. My old body was protesting loudly but I knew that a stop at Starbucks on the way home would fix everything…

Hiking McKinney Roughs 3-6-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

This is such a beautiful time of the year to get out and walk and commune with Mother Nature.

Written 3/7/2018

The Second Walk of the Year


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As I had promised myself a couple of days ago, I was back out on the trail again and back at Reimers Ranch. This time I planned on a longer walk to get in some exercise as well as take pictures. It took me a while to gear up as I hadn’t used any of the camera carrying equipment for a couple of months. I finally sorted it all out but ran into a problem with one of the camera safety straps as the clip on the end was malfunctioning. I had to cobble together a temporary strap promising myself that I would fix the other one as soon as I got back home.

With everything in place, I set off along the Turkey Trail with the usual high hopes of seeing something worthwhile to photograph. Even if I didn’t see anything dramatic like a Deer or a Turkey I always had the good old standby of the trails themselves. The Parks people had been doing a lot of controlled burns on this end of the trail exposing the very nature of the ground itself. It is so rocky in a lot of places that it is no small wonder that the only thing to grow is scraggly grass, cactus and more rocks.

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As I made my way down the trail, I noticed that I was being followed by a young couple with a two fairly large dogs. I am quite sure that if they had walked at their normal speed, they would easily have gone by me but they chose to hang back. I took the River Trail just before the Park ends and cut back along the river towards the Rock Climbing Area. This is a nice and interesting trail to walk now that the Parks people have cleared it. The river is on one side and the rocky bluffs on the other making for a shady walk for most of its length.

I could hear the rock climbers on my left talking and laughing and generally sounding like they were having fun. Not quite my idea of entertainment even if I was a young man. Definitely not now. I passed a few people walking the trail in the opposite direction, most of whom were younger people although there was one older guy with a dog. When I reached the rock climbing area I managed to get a couple of pictures of three of them on the rock face.

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As I continued along, I saw the most river activity that I have seen since walking these trails. First I passed a motor boat that was anchored in the stream and a bit further up, a family of four who were fishing, standing in the water with waders on. I did not see them catch anything while walked by. A little further, I passed a Father with three kids who had some sort of contraptions that they threw into the air. The things made a loud whirring noise and were a bit like a boomerang as they were supposed to come back to the thrower.

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Next and for the first time ever walking these trails, there was activity on the opposite bank from one of the houses that sits on top of the bluff. The family were involved in several different activities from wading in the water to canoeing to just sitting around.

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As I continued along, I passed other people who were just sitting around on the river bed enjoying the beautiful day. Today was the most activity not counting the swimming area, that I have ever seen that many people actually enjoying the river. Of course the day was a Sunday which tends to bring people out. As I walked along, I noticed a square shaped rock on top of the bluffs that looks like it is just balancing in place and just had to take a picture.

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I kept walking and decided to go up the steep exit to the third parking area. This is quite a feat by itself as I have often mentioned before as making one’s way up the stone steps is quite an effort. All that remained was the walk back along the gravel path that spans the entire length of the park on top of the river bluffs. I passed two different Buzzards and what looks like a Sparrow perched in the trees. They all allowed me to walk right past them and made no attempt to fly off even though I was as close as twenty feet from them. Of course, they were up in a tree and they knew I couldn’t fly.

I arrived back at the Parking Lot and my truck and the lot which had been totally full when I pulled in was now beginning to empty. As usual, I had to change out of my sweat soaked clothes before taking a slow drive home stopping at Starbucks along the way to reward myself with  latte. Altogether, I covered almost five miles enjoying every minute of it. It’s great to be  walking again…

The story would not be complete if I didn’t include pictures of the trails that I walked. It is definitely the winter season here in central Texas. Everything is so brown and lifeless. Any patch of green is a welcome relief.

Plus a few panoramic views.
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Written 2/6/2018

Reimer’s Ranch 11-19-2017


I went for another walk at Reimer’s Ranch and although I walked by the river, I did not expect to see the Osprey in action. Nevertheless, I was fully prepared with both cameras at the ready.

The plan was to park in the furthermost Parking Area known as River View No 2 and take the precarious entrance down the rocky stairway and then walk the lower trail in a North Easterly direction to the end of the Park. This time, I was kinda doing the last walk in reverse to the way I normally do it just to get a different perspective. Needless to say, I did not see the Osprey or any other birdlife to talk of or at least, take pictures of. As it was the middle of the week, there were no rock climbers on any of the faces that I passed.

I walked to the end of the Lower Trail where it connected with the Multi Purpose Trail and then turned South and followed it back towards the main Multi Purpose Trail. I passed the area where I had previously seen the deer but again, nothing was stirring. I took several pictures and the Park is already taking on it’s Fall and Winter coat as things change colors and the grasses turn brown. This has it’s own form of beauty as the pictures show.

I came to the intersection of the Multi Purpose Trail that I was on where it connected to the main Multi Purpose Trail that encircles the entire park. I thought about which way to go taking into consideration the distance and my own tiredness as I had no real plan in mind. I decided to head right taking the section of trail that leads past the Trailheads. I came across an area that had recently has a “Controlled Burn” where the Parks people burn off the undergrowth.

As I walked along, a couple on horseback approached me and they stopped when they drew opposite. The lady, who just happened to be the lead rider, stopped to say hello in the thickest British accent that I have heard in a long time. We chatted a bit about the old country and she told me that they lived in Dripping Springs. I took a couple of pictures and we bade farewell as we each went on our respective ways in opposite directions.

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As I continued along the trail, I came across a young lady who had stopped to take a picture. I waited for her to complete her work as I thought she might be taking a picture of a bird and didn’t want to spoil her shot before continuing on until I came level with her. She told me she was taking a picture of the grass which immediately lead into other questions, Grass? Really. Turns out, she described herself as a Farmer which led to more conversations as she told me that she and her husband farm acreage at Pedernales and work on a rotating system of moving the stock every couple of weeks which allows the grass time to recover and regrow. I had read previously about this type of farming so had an idea of what she was talking about. She introduced herself as Carina and I gave her one of my cards. We walked the trail together as she told me all about her farming and the meat they sell at the local Farmers Market. She reached the turnoff to the last exit River View No 2 where she wanted to take the river trail back to her car in River View No 1. I warned her about being very careful climbing down both of these exits before I continued on the Multi Purpose Trail until I reached the River View No 1 and then followed the Top Trail back to my car. The Top Trail is a reconstituted granite path that runs on the top of the Bluff all the way between the first and last parking areas. I passed one other family on the Top Trail who were just heading out and stopped to chat to them for a bit before moving on to my car.

Reamer’s Ranch 11-19-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Altogether, I covered a little over 4 miles of very enjoyable walking with the weather cooling down a little and no crowds. Come to think about it, if you have been reading my previous posts, no young ladies in mini bikini’s either. Oh well…

Written 11/30/2017

McKinney Falls State Park 9-30-2017


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A view of the trail

With the recent rains, I knew the trails would be muddy in places and I wanted to walk on something more solid. I opted to walk the Hike and Bike trail at McKinney Falls as it is a 3 mile circular trail that is very nicely blacktopped and made for easy walking. It has one very steep place where there is a sign that bicyclists should get off and walk although I am sure that most  of them view this as a challenge more than a warning. It would get a little hairy if any hikers happened to be on the trail at this exact point as there is a blind corner that you can’t see around until too late…Come to think about it, I have yet to see a biker anywhere in this park probably that except for this one spot, the trail offers no real challenge to them.

Picnic area at the Upper Falls

A five picture panorama of the picnic area

I broke all of my rules today as normally, I very rarely get out to the Parks because of the numbers of people that use them on the weekends. It’s not that I am anti-people but I like to hike for the solitude amongst other things and that can be difficult with crowds of noisy families each with at least a dozen kids per family all talking and running at the same time. Mckinney Falls also has swimming facilities which is another attraction for these families and large groups of people.

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Another 5 picture panorama from the reverse direction

I parked in the lot by the Upper Falls and geared up in my usual fashion. I’m sure that I make quite a comical sight with my two cameras and binos strapped to my chest, my camera bag with a couple of other lenses on my back, my two walking poles in my hands and topped off by my wide brimmed hat complete with added kerchief around my forehead to soak up the sweat. Oh yes, add two water bottles to that strapped to my waist. I probably am carrying at least 20 pounds of gear, great for my muscles and cardio but awful tiring.

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A panoramic view of the Upper Falls

I walked past the Upper Falls and the throngs of people into the park area that is set up with picnic tables and firepits and is very nicely maintained. Onion Creek runs off to my right and I wandered over to take a look. The water was a muddy brown color from the recent rains and not very appealing so I got back onto the trail proper and started to walk. I took several shots of the park area and of a couple of the very large trees on the trail and have turned them into panoramic shots. I met several people on the trail and conversely, several passed me going in the same direction. None were families with kids as they preferred to be at the Falls area. Although I heard birds, I didn’t see any to take any pictures of. I passed an interestingly shaped tree and took a couple of pictures of it besides various flowers. The pictures below also include views of the trails.

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This tree is made up of 5 different pictures in order show the whole thing. I wonder how old it is?

 

Arriving back at the Falls, I chatted to a few people and took several pictures.  There was a photographic class going on the park area which broke up as I was taking pictures of the Falls.  Not sure what the subject matter of the course was about.

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There are 8 pictures in this pano

Altogether with my additional wandering around, I covered a little over 4 miles. I noticed that my old body and legs were nowhere near as tired as when I walk the regular trails. Must be that this much flatter blacktop trail is much easier to walk and for that I was extremely grateful.

Written 10/3/2017