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.

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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.

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.

Reimers Ranch 1-21-2017


dsc_4792-panoI hadn’t been walking for a while due to the cold snaps that we had plus the fact that I needed to devote my time to cleaning up the yard after those winter freezes. With that out of the way and a rise in temperatures back to my comfort zone, I decided to take a walk at Reimers Ranch.

I arrived there and chatted briefly with the Ranger at the gate and then made my way to the first main parking area which was pretty full. My intent was to walk the big circular loop around the entire park, a distance of about 5 miles.

Following the usual preparation with the addition of putting on a pair of hiking socks that I was trying out, I added boots, hat, backpack, camera belt and camera and grabbing my trusty walking poles, set of by crossing the road and then following the Multi use trail to the SW. After walking this trail several times before, I already knew which was the easiest way to go so that the big hills were down and not up.

The first thing I noticed was that the the Park Crews had been doing many controlled burns to lower the undergrowth which really consisted of tall grass in most places. We had had some rain showers since the burns so the smell was no longer in the air. Some of the big oaks showed signs of the burns and I hope they will come back in the Spring. Not all of the park had been burned as the area that the Wild Turkeys are supposed to be in was still OK as were some of the main trail further along. Even without the black scar of the burns, the remaining Park had a very brown wintery look to it.

As I walked this trail, the houses on the opposite side of the Pedernales River were visible. Must be a great place to live with a wonderful view and high enough above the river to not be bothered by any flooding.

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I took the Turkey Loop in the very forlorn hope of actually seeing a Turkey but to no avail. I probably would need to sit down for a while in a bird blind in order for the Turkeys to be brave enough to show themselves. Maybe one of these days…

I met several people out on the trail including two ladies on horseback who I stopped and chatted to for a bit. The horse on the left was a very friendly guy and kept nudging me to rub his neck and make a fuss of him.dsc_4813

I also met another couple who were willing for me to take their pictures. A couple of cyclists also passed me and as I don’t ask them  to stop, all I get are pictures from behind as they disappear into the distance.

I took several pictures of the different animal prints that I saw in the dirt with the hope of identifying them but could only positively identify one which is the White Tailed Deer

It looks like there could be several different animals in this group including Bobcat, Racoon, Coyote, Skunk, Deer and Opossum. The tracks were not fresh and had dried out making it not only harder to get a good picture but then to identify them.

When I reached the Kelly Prehn Trails, I decided to forgo that diversion and instead, kept on walking past Johnny’s Homestead taking the multi use long trail. In my view, this is the prettier part of the walk especially when the trail runs close to the stream which actually has water in it. The last time I walked this trail a couple of months ago, it was pretty dry. As  I was walking along, I could hear talking from behind and turned to see another young couple who were making good time as they walked. We stopped and chatted for a bit and I got their picture and found out there names were Moira and Reuben. They walked off and I was amazed that even though they were walking at a normal pace, they literally left me in their dust. I must really walk slow nowadays. Good job I walk alone most of the time as it is probably very frustrating for anyone that might walk with me. Taking pictures is only part of the excuse. I really am slow…

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They disappeared into the distance and I diverted from the main trail enough to get close to the stream and take a couple of pictures and then walked back on along the trail. This part of the trail does have an uphill climb but it is not too bad. I eventually made it back to the parking lot a very happy and tired hiker. I can tell that the weather is warming up as my “T” shirt was soaked requiring a change. If I didn’t wear a backpack, I would probably be OK but I carry extra camera stuff besides a first aid kit, a snakebite kit and additional clothes and wet weather gear not to mention snacks. It’s a good job that I am prepared as I had a problem with one of the additional parts that is attached to the camera and allows me to clip it onto the special belt that I have. Digging into my pack, I found the proper wrench to tighten up the loose part saving me a lot of headaches down the road. Like the Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared”.

I knew all of those years I spent in the Boy Scouts would pay off one of these days…

Riemers Ranch 1-20-2017 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.