A Walk At McKinney Roughs on 6-11-2017


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A peaceful place….


I found time to take another short walk and decided to head for my most favorite of places to hike and that is McKinney Roughs. Another reason that I wanted to get out was to try out a new camera carrying harness that allows me to carry two cameras at a time and to be able to choose which one based on the shot.

I have just bought a Nikon D7500 which along with my D7200, complement each other. I had a Tamron wide angled lens on one and my 18-300 Tamron telescopic lens on the other. I was able to change cameras depending on the view and the shot I was wanting to take. Another reason that I purchased the second camera was so that I could also use one of them, probably the D7200, to take the place of the video camera that I had that only got used 2 hours per month at the Austin Pond Society Meeting. So, I traded the video camera in taking a huge loss of course, partially to pay for the D7500 as I plan on using the D7200 to take the video of the meeting and the other camera for the still shots.

With all of that said, the D7500 has a few more bells and whistles which I haven’t a clue how to use although I was nicely surprised to find some of the day’s shots already on my cell phone with the Wi-Fi already set up. That’s both good and bad as I will quickly fill up my space allowance on the phone if I don’t control that. “Nuff said about the photography equipment.

I have walked McKinney so many times I rarely need the map but I carry it with me just in case. This time, I decided to walk down Bobcat Ridge to Pine Ridge and then onto Cypress which brought me down close to the river. Cypress and Riverside are beautifully shaded with intermittent views of the river. They are great trails when the weather is dry but get very muddy after any amount of rain. This is also a horse trail and the horses tend to cut up the softer trails after any rain to talk of.

From there, I took Bluff Trail Loop onto Ridge which brought me back to the parking lot. I never saw another hiker out on the trails and the only other people I saw were in the parking lot either getting ready to walk or had just completed their walks. Altogether, I covered 6 miles which is about my normal hiking length nowadays. I took a lot of pictures which I have turned into a slideshow. Most of the pics are of the trails as nearly all of the flowers are over for this season except in the parking lot where the gardens are in full bloom. Still not too many butterflies around yet. Maybe later in the year. I have yet to take any pictures of birds except for the White Egret down by the river. I hear the birds but can never see them. Same is true of any wildlife. I probably make so much noise with my walking poles that any animal type is long gone by the time I get there.

If you are looking for a place to take a hike, McKinney Roughs is the place to go. Most of the trails are shaded and only a couple have steep climbs and the scenery is very beautiful. I highly recommend it.

Below is the slideshow. Enjoy.

A Walk at McKinney Roughs 6-11-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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Thoughts on Life – June 13, 2017


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It seems that when I choose to write
unless it is about a hike
or maybe something in the yard
or in the ponds which is not hard
as Nature is a willing guide
showing more than what she hides
and everywhere I choose to look
is another page from her open book
as beauty all around me grows
as the flowers are putting on a show.

What really bothers me
are the things that shape our destiny
as many things we can’t control
are forced upon our very soul
as we have very little say
in the things that happen day to day
as others the decisions make
they claim doing it for our sake
even in this Democracy
it is plain for all to see
that only one percent are doing fine
while the rest of us can only whine
and wait for the next election day
when we hope we have our say
and ours are the guys that make the rules
and we the ones who voted them in
will still be taking it on the chin
as our guys will no better be
than the ones already history.

Now let me see where was I now
as I turn on my computer to read the show
trying to stay abreast of things
looking to see what this day will bring
and reading about the same old stuff
just as though there isn’t enough
of pain and suffering and shootings too
why act this way I haven’t a clue
and Trump and his group more rules rescind
and Nature is taking it on the chin
and the Rich get richer with no help from us
and the sick get sicker with no one to trust
or to give them a helping hand
and the same is true all over the land.

I have stopped looking at the news
it is such a depressing view
to read all about such terrible waste
and Global Warming can’t make a case
the birds and animals and Parks and States
all are starting lose this race
as the idiots in charge keep tearing things down
all because of a billionaire clown
whose only interest is money and fame
and is playing a dangerous game
and has no thought for this Earth
and the damage which can’t be undone
remembered most as the one
The Man Who Let in the Sun.

I refuse to let this bother me
as outside of the window I see
plants and flowers putting on a show
and birds and squirrels some I know
as repeat visitors come to eat seed
at the feeders put out for their needs
and the Koi in the ponds are looking good
and the water is clear just as it should
and my pets are fine and in good health
and I feel good not acting my age
not ready to turn that final page
enjoying my life as best I can
without reading about that horrible man.

Reimer’s Ranch Hogge Trails 5-12-2017


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This pano is of  made up of 10 separate pictures

After changing my mind so many times on the last hike here a few days ago, I finally did hike the Hogge Trails. These are the new trails at this park and as yet, do not show up on any of the maps. This can be a bit intimidating when there is no visual of what lies ahead but the Hogge Trails are essentially a figure eight with the choice of the short trail at around 2 miles and the longer trail which is closer to 3 miles. The Park signs tend to err on the short side and both of my pedometers show longer distances than those marked on the sign posts.  In order to cover the entire set of trails, one has to hike the middle trail twice to complete the figure eight. There is also the trail that leads to the Hogge trails and it adds another 2 miles if you park in the Mountain Bike Parking Lot. By the time I arrived back in the parking lot, I had covered almost 8 miles.

The pictures below are of the Hogge Trails.

Along the way, Mother Nature is celebrating the birth of another Spring with a grand display of flowers. Everywhere you looked, it seemed that it was the habitat for some flower or another. This truly is a wonderful time of the year to be out on the trails.

Flowers at Reimers Ranch 5-12-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Coming out of the Mountain Bike Parking Lot, I took the trail that would lead me to Johnny’s Homestead, named for a structure that once stood on this spot before it burned down. All that remains is the stone chimney and the electric power poles with the power lines still in place.  Then followed a short walk along the Multi Purpose Trail until it branches off to the Hogge Trails, the first part of which crosses the creek that may be called Pogue Creek. Not sure about that. Early in the year around Jan-Feb, this creek is flowing at a good pace but it is now completely dried up at least where the trail crosses it. We could sure use some rain…

DSC_5433From the creek, the trail is a steady uphill climb for over a mile which sure gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing. It levels off where the Hogge Trails begin on the other side of the original boundary fence on the recently donated land. The Hogge Trails are fairly level with just the occasional short hill. Like all hills, they always seem to go up. The pictures below are of the long upward climb to get to  the start of the Hogge Trails.

The last time I was here, a grey fox ran across the road in front of me. This time, a large deer broke cover and scampered off as I approached. As is usual in such circumstances, there is never time to get the camera off the belt and into shooting position. Because I like to use hiking poles to aid with balance and to help propel me along the way, I carry my camera on a Cotton Carrier single camera waist belt with a quick release. It works very well for me but I am never going to get it up in time to take those sort of shots.

I had the trails all to myself not passing or even seeing any other hikers or bikers. I really like the feeling of solitude that one gets from hiking these trails. It was not until I arrived back at the Trailhead did I see other people and most of them were mountain bikers. Another very enjoyable walk before the Texas Heat starts in earnest.

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Walking at McKinney Roughs 6-5-2017


DSC_5375I was desperate to get out on the trails again and after careful consideration opted to hike at McKinney Roughs. I really like the place and the trails are interesting and most of them have a lot of shade. That is always a plus here in Texas when the temperature can be hovering around 100 degrees in the summer. It was only in the 80’s on Saturday and very comfortable for hiking.

The trails were well groomed and it appeared that they had both been mowed and/or levelled to make for good walking. There are some advantages to being older as I paid my $2:00 and chatted to the lady behind the desk for a bit before heading out onto Coyote Road which is pretty much all downhill towards the river. Coyote Road has a trail washout as it connects to Roadrunner so it is not possible to make that complete loop. Instead, I took Riverside and literally followed it all the way alongside the Colorado River.

Just before I hit Riverside, a whole bunch of horses came into view, all of the riders were ladies and all chatting up a storm. We exchanged pleasantries as we passed and I got a few pictures of them. I think we have crossed paths before.

That part of the trail on Riverside is very pleasant although there are not many clear views of the river. Instead of heading back up Riverside, I opted to take Cypress which also runs alongside of the river and again is a very pleasant trail. I found a lone fisherman and walked down to chat with him for a bit. We discussed the fishing and he volunteered he was from Houston on a day trip to Austin with his sons. He had caught two so far and had returned them to the water but was not having much luck at his present site. He bemoaned the fact that his boot had fallen apart and indeed it had as he showed me that the entire sole of the boot had come off. He had it with him and was going to attempt a repair when he got home. I bade him farewell and good luck with his fishing and his shoe repair and continued upwards on Cypress.

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Prior to turning away from the river, I took a few pictures of the river itself and discovered that there were livestock on the opposite bank who had come down to take their fill of the water. Pictures below are of both the river and the livestock.

The Cypress trail when it leaves the river is nothing but an uphill climb even when it branches onto Pine Ridge. In many places, one encounters the man made trail steps to help with the climb. Luckily, it was all under the shade of the trees and actually was very pleasant and not too difficult to manoeuvre.

I followed Pine Ridge until it joined Bobcat Ridge and took that all the way back to the Parking Lot. Again, a lot of it was uphill walking but not overly difficult. On the way back, I was on the side of the park that now has the Zip Line and took a picture of one of the Towers showing people waiting their turn to take the ride. I just missed taking a picture of a couple of them as they were just completing the run as I came into view, accompanied by their screams as they zoomed through the air. It sounded like they were having fun but I think I will leave that to the younger generation and keep my feet firmly on the ground.

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Leaving the Zip Liners behind, I continued along the trail and arrived back in the Parking Lot which was beginning to fill up. A couple of middle aged ladies parked next to me driving a big old truck and one of them got out. She was dressed very nicely and I asked her if she was going hiking dressed like that and with those shoes on. She doubled over laughing and told me she just had to give me a “big ole hug” for making her laugh. I pointed out I was hot and sweaty but she gave me a hug anyway. She said they were going to a wedding and I remembered seeing that one was scheduled when I had gone to the office to pay my fees. Anyway, she made my day. A perfect end to a great hike.

I took lots of pictures of the flowers and trails and have posted them in separate blogs.

Use this link for the Wildflowers https://wordpress.com/post/pondblog2011.mlblogs.com/34817

and this one for the Trails
https://wordpress.com/post/pondblog2011.mlblogs.com/34826

The Wildflowers at Reimers Ranch 5-2-2017


Spring, the most wonderful time of the year when Mother Nature decorates the land with her beautiful paintings as she wields her brush. Enjoy the video taken of the flowers at Milton Reimers Ranch in Travis County.

Reimers Ranch Flowers 5-2-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Reimers Ranch 5-2-2017


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This panorama of several pictures shows the flowers in all of their glory.

Now that I am pretty much caught up with the yardwork, the ponds and cleaning all of the sheds, I have time to get back out on the trails again, just where I love to be.

I decided that I would take a short walk at Reimers Ranch and the trails were flashing through my mind after having hiked there many times before, as I drove to the location. The weather was pretty warm with the forecast to reach 90 degrees and sunny and Reimers only has limited cover on most of the trails. I thought about it and decided that I would take the recently built trail known as the Hogge Trail which as yet, is still not shown on any of the trail maps.

I chatted to the lady at the gate and she remembered me even though it has been a while and I told her of my plans. How does that saying go, “The best laid plans of mice and men…”. Well, after I pulled into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot which I had entirely to myself, and changed into my boots and gear including putting on my backpack and camera, I had a change of heart, jumped back into the car with all of my gear on and very awkwardly drove to the Pavilion Parking Area instead which was just across the road.

At the last minute, I had decided that I would hike the Multi Use trail all the way to where it hits the spot where the Pogue Creek joins the Pedernales River which is the westernmost point of the park but somewhere along the way, for reasons best left alone, I changed my mind yet again and stayed on the Multi Use Trail. I came to the signpost for the Kelly Prehn and Pogue Canyon Trails and opted to walk both of them. There is not much water in the creek at either overlook. The magnificent Cypress trees in the Pogue Canyon look taller and greener than ever. I wonder why the Travis County Parks people have not made an actual trail that connects the Pogue Canyon Trail and then  following the creek all the way to its furthermost end. That would make for a nice loop. Come to that, why not a trail that follows the creek for the entire way.  Oh well. dsc_4562

I walked back and rejoined the Multi Use Trail to where it meets Johnny’s Homestead and made my way back to the Parking Lot from where I started, taking many pictures along the way. The high spot of the day was to get a picture of a Ruby Throated Hummingbird as it drew nectar from a thistle. It was totally unexpected as I was focusing on the flower when the bird suddenly appeared. I never had time for any camera adjustments and kept snapping away in the hope that at least one picture would come out and luckily for me, one did.DSC_5301

Before calling it a day, I wandered over to the Pedernales River Overlook and took a couple of pictures. I met a few people along this part of the trails but none on the other trails I had walked. One couple were obviously rock climbers as they had on all the gear and were very animatedly talking about and working on climbing knots as they walked.

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The wildflowers are outdoing themselves and I took nearly 80 pictures.  I have one interesting shot of the controlled burn as it looked back in January to what it looks like today. Nature is amazing and apart from some Oak tree damage, it would be hard to tell there was ever a burn.

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The regrowth taken May 2017

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Following the burn January 2017

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Showing the burn damage to the lower branches.

Reimers Ranch Trails and Creek 5-2-2017

Reimers Ranch Trails and Creek 5-2-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Postscript:
Following this walk, one thing became very obvious and that is that hiking is not something that you can lay off for a while and then pick back up by just going out and taking a stroll. At least, not when you are in the advanced years that I unfortunately happen to be. It requires much more consistency of walking by going out at least a couple of times a week. My layoff from around the first of February really showed in yesterday’s walk as I found myself tiring towards the end of the 6th mile. Working in the garden is not the same as consistent walking. I no longer walk fast but pride myself on being able to walk for a long time so just like when I was younger and trained very hard for the game I love, (Football to us Brits, soccer to you Yanks), I need to walk more often.  I don’t propose to get into a serious training regime but I do plan on getting out on the trails more frequently. Just gotta work those tired old muscles.