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

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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.

Hiking the Hogge Trails


DSC_1778The last time I was at Reimer’s Ranch a couple of days ago, I discovered that they had opened up two new trails named the Hogge Trails. I walked the first mile that led to the trails themselves but had decided that I would actually hike them on a different day which I chose to do this past Sunday.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous with the sun shining but not too hot to make it uncomfortable. Being Sunday, there were lots of cars in the Trail Bike Parking lot which is the one that I needed to start my hike. Most had bike racks on the back but there were a few that like mine, were without, indicating that we were hikers and not bikers.

DSC_1791After the usual preparation of changing into my hiking boots, hooking on my camera belt, loading in my fruit snacks and grabbing my hiking poles, I was ready to go. I took the trail that led to Johnny’s Homestead occasionally having to step off the trail to let some bikers come on by and after about a mile, ended up at the intersection where the main Multi Purpose trail meets with the new trail leading to the Hogge Trails. This one is about a mile and as I described in my previous blog, is a steady uphill climb giving me a wonderful view of the Texas Hill Country.

DSC_1774On the way out, I could hear voices behind me which seemed to be catching up pretty quickly. I turned and saw that I was now accompanied on the trail by two ladies each on a very large horse. We exchanged greetings and I asked if I could take their pictures which I did but only from the back view. I followed their tracks for the rest of the hike and contemplated how much horses seem to have grown since I had them 30 years ago. I couldn’t remember mine being anywhere near as large.

DSC_1782I eventually arrived at the gate which is the border of the original park and stepped into the new Hogge Preserve. There are two trails one listed as the Inner Loop of about 1.5 miles  and the other as the Outer Loop which is listed as 2 miles. I wanted to cover all of the trails and as they have not yet been listed on a map, I had no idea of the actual shape. I suspected that they would be like a figure eight but did not want to go off trail wandering around and decided to walk the Outer Loop. The first thing I noticed was the very large flat rocks that were laying around which I had not seen anywhere else in the park. There were also indications of controlled burns in many different areas. The trails were very nice to walk with a lot of green everywhere I looked. The Outer Loop took me to the furthermost end of the Park and then looped around heading back to where I started.

DSC_1784Just as I had suspected, halfway out, there was a signpost and a trail indicating the Inner Loop. It had 3 picnic tables which I gratefully took advantage of to rest and eat an apple before continuing on my way on the Outer Loop. I continued walking the Outer Loop until I came to a point where again, the signpost indicated that the branch off to the left was indeed the Inner Loop. I chose to follow it wanting to see how far it was to the other point of entry. My guess is that it is not too much more than a half mile or so. As soon as I reached the first signpost, I turned back and retraced my steps and rejoined the Outer Loop and headed back to the gate. I completed the figure eight just as I expected.

DSC_1779From this point on, it was a general downhill walk heading back to Johnny’s Homestead and from there, the mile hike back to the Trail Bike parking area. On the way, a couple of young female Trail Bikers passed me going in and as we passed, called out the usual friendly greeting that outdoors people always seem to have for each other. A little further on, a grey fox crossed the trail in front of me. Of course, by the time I saw it, I had no time to even get the camera off the belt before it was gone but I do remember that it had a very bushy tail. That is the second major sighting while out walking the first being a couple of deer at Pedernales Falls. I also saw several Wild Turkey footprints, the first I had seen of the presence of these birds although the Park is known to have them. The walk was very satisfying with flowers in abundance and views of distant streams. There were many places that the entire landscape was of tiny white flowers that just carpeted the countryside.DSC_1777

By the time I got to the parking lot, it had emptied considerably but still had a few cars. I chatted to a couple of young male cyclists just getting ready to head out. They wanted to know if I had seen any girls on the trail and I told them that if they hurried, they might catch the two I had seen on the Hogge Trails. It was all in good fun as they had no intentions of even heading in that direction.

DSC_1803I changed out of my hiking boots and sat by the car for a while just enjoying the sun and the silence except for the birds and just soaking up my bodily tiredness. Directly in front of me was the little grouping of Bluebonnets. As I sat there, the two aforementioned female cyclists pedalled back into the lot and  to their car. Altogether, I covered 8.5 miles on the trails and was very grateful for the fact that except for the muscles feeling a little sore, I otherwise felt good. Compared to how I felt the last time out, this was just wonderful. A lot of it is psychological probably because I really wanted to go walking today and the last time out, not so much.

I had to make a stop at HEB on the way home which also happened to have a Starbucks right next to it. So with groceries in my car, a Latte and listening to an audiobook, a very contented old man made the trip home to be greeted by two very happy Dachshunds.

If you click on one of the pictures to make it bigger, you can use the side arrows to move from one to the next. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

Another Hike at McKinney


George and Gloria, my hiking buddies and good friends along with the two dogs, Bobby and Nina went for a hike at McKinney which is one of our favorite places. I, for one, never tire of these walks at this place. It is normally very quiet and peaceful and we usually have the place pretty much to ourselves.

This time was a little different. I arrived first and discovered that the parking lot was full of horse trailers with countless horses and riders milling around all in various states of preparedness. Some were getting ready to ride and others were watering their horses and tending to them prior to loading them back into their trailers. I wandered around as I waited for my friends and took a few pictures and chatted to several of the riders. One lady told me that she and her friend had hauled their trailer  down from Dallas to ride in the park. This was the busiest that I had ever seen the parking lot in the many times that I have hiked here and it was great to see so many people availing themselves of this beautiful park.

My friends arrived and they too commented on how busy it was as we prepared to hike off into the woods. We decided to take the same trail that I had walked the last time I was here a week or so ago. So, with Bobby leading the way and Nina bringing up the rear, off we went on our hike. In a weeks time, nearly all of the flowers were gone and the only plant that really was putting on a show was the American Beauty Berry bush. There were many of them all covered with their purple berries and we passed many of them the entire length of the walk.

Along the way, as could be expected, we crossed trails with many of the horses and riders as they availed themselves to the beauties of nature and this park. Rules of etiquette called for us to give way to the horses which was a bit of a no-brainer considering how much bigger they are than us. I took this opportunity to take pictures of horses and riders and they were all more than willing to pose for me. Even the horses appeared to perk up when I pointed the camera at them.

We were seated by the 200 year old Pecan tree taking a rest as a couple young guys on their horses came along. They stopped and chatted to us and as usual, I took their pictures. One of them said that he was from Colorado and had horses back there. He gave us a quick demonstration of how he could back his horse which impressed us with both the horses and riders skills. They trotted off and it was very obvious that they and horses were no strangers to each other.

At one point, we came across a giant tree that had either been struck by lightning or was so old that the core of the tree had rotted out causing the tree to come down in one of the mini storms we recently had. The Park maintenance staff had cleared it from the trail and I was able to take a picture showing the inside of the tree. Judging from the size, I imagine it too was well over a hundred years old. Even giant  trees have a life limit.

We continued with our hike and we also passed several lone hikers going in the opposite direction. I guess as the weather begins to cool down, more people are availing themselves of the great outdoors. When we arrived back in the parking lot, it had emptied considerably as many of the horse trailers had pulled out. There were still a couple left and the horse and riders appeared as we were standing around and talking. We exchanged comments as they evoked surprise that we were still there. We in turn, good naturedly remarked that we had actually hiked five miles on our own feet, all in good fun.

My friends left along with Bobby and Nina and true to form, I headed into Bastrop to the local Starbucks, my usual way to end the hike at McKinney Roughs.

McKinney Roughs Nature Park – August 2014


One of the McKinney Trails

One of the McKinney Trails

 

BACK TO McKINNEY – 8-3-2014

Due to the work attached to the Pond Tour both in preparation of my own ponds and then the write ups and video work for the “Ripples”, I had not had any time to take any walks in the past three months and felt it was time to get back to it. So, at the last-minute, I decided to go hiking today at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Bastrop.

I hastily collected my camera gear, a bottle of water and some fruit and made the 30 mile trip to Bastrop. I had previously slathered myself in sun tan protection and grabbed the hat with the neck cover and was ready to go.

When I arrived at the Highway 71 trail head,there was only one other car in the parking lot and the two people it belonged to, emerged from the trails as I was getting ready to go leaving me as the only person hiking in from that end of the park. It was around 1:00 pm and I would have to assume that most of the other hikers and horse people had probably arrived early when it was much cooler. As it was,the temperature was in the low 90’s, not bad for a summer’s day in Texas.

Old Building

Old Building

I chose to hike the Whitetail Trail which would eventually merge with Bobcat Trail and finally back home via the Pine Ridge Trail. I considered a couple of others but decided that as I hadn’t been hiking in a couple of months and considering how hot it was, decided that taking the shorter trails made more sense. As it was, the trails I chose covered about five miles and my trusty pedometer said I had burned 480 calories as an added bonus.

The trails were very dry and dusty as we haven’t had any rain in a while. This made for a lot of deep sand in much of the trail making it even tougher to walk. Loose sand is difficult stuff to walk on as it is hard to get traction and can be very tiring. One thing about hiking alone in my case is that allows me to take a lot of pictures as I can choose my own pace. Another odd thing that I have noticed at McKinney is the absence of birds. Although I heard them, I only saw a couple on the whole walk, one flew off a small pond that I came across and looked like a Green Heron. The other was a Chickadee. Maybe I frighten them off before I get to them but it is strange there are not more.

I have learned from experience in hiking country trails to always keep an eye on the trail in front of me just in case there may be a snake or two

Pond at McKinney

catching a few rays. I would normally expect that I would be making enough noise for them to hear me coming but just in case, I am always keeping my eyes open. Today, I didn’t see any. It’s not that I am afraid of them but I don’t like those sort of surprises.

When I used to breed parakeets, many years ago, I went into the bird room one day and tried to close the inner wire door as I normally did just by pushing it shut behind me. When it wouldn’t close, I turned around to see what was wrong and discovered I was eyeball to eyeball with a big old snake that was draped over the top of the door. I must have screamed in surprise as my wife of the time, heard me from inside the house and came running out. By then I had recovered enough that between us, we shooed it off the door and back into the woods where it belonged. It was at least six feet long and was a big old tree snake. Harmless, but very frightening when you are eyeballing each other. I like snakes to be on the ground.

I diverse, back to the walk. It took me a couple of hours to complete the trip. The last part of the trail heading down from the Ridge is by a series of man-made wood and dirt steps. It was a little

Man made steps

Man made steps

tricky and I had to be careful so as not to go ass over tip and end up falling down the slope but I safely completed the walk down. The steps are in need of some work as a lot of the soil has washed out.  At the bottom, the trail levels and follows a dried up-stream that had water in it the last time I was there. Finally, another climb only this time, going up. Again, I had to manoeuvre more of the same sort of staircase made of wood and dirt. It was pretty steep and quite tiring but I managed it without incident. The final stretch is on fairly level ground giving me time to recover from the climb and walk the final half mile back to my car.

I was totally soaked from my exertions and had foreseen this and brought a change of clothes. Changing was not a problem as I was still the only car in the parking lot. As I was finishing packing my cameras, another truck towing a horse

Two of the horses

Two of the horses

trailer pulled in and two people got out. They unloaded two horses that were already saddled up and ready to go. On my way out, I waved to them and being the friendly Texans that they probably were, they waved back. I knew they had to be Texans as they both wore cowboy hats and the lady had on boots. Probably the guy did too but I couldn’t tell. Just kidding.

All in all, I really enjoyed the hike and it’s time to get back into the walking routine, Texas heat and all.

For a link to the slideshow:

McKinney 8-3-2014 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Another Hike at McKinney Roughs


Bobbie

Bobbie on the trail

Along with my two friends George and Gloria with their dogs, Nina and Bobbie, we went back to McKinney Roughs this time to hike to the Pecan Tree that was outlined on the travel guide as being almost 200 years old. It was situated on one of the trails we had not yet covered.

This time, in order to find a trail that was a little closer to the Pecan Tree, we stopped by the Trail Head to the Park off Pope Bend Road. This is a very popular entry for the horseback riders and while we were there, at least four trailers were in various stages of loading or unloading the horses. Some had finished their ride and were taking care of the horses by giving them a cool down bath with a hose pipe provided for that purpose while others were in the process of saddling up.

Two of the horses

Two of the horses

I had a couple of horses in my younger days and very much enjoyed trail riding with them. It seems nowadays that the horses have either grown much bigger or my memories of my riding days have so faded into the past that the size of my horses has shrunk along with the memories. Mine were nowhere near as big. Or maybe it’s me that has shrunk along with my memory.

Trail

More of the Trail

My friends arrived and we set off along the Buckeye trail heading to the Pecan Tree which we knew was no more than a couple of miles or so in. It was very pleasant walking as it was a little overcast and the trails were all soft going on sandy loam. They contoured  up and down and even though it was only a month or so ago from last time we were there, the vegetation has already grown tall with everything so green. The flowers were out in number and it was wonderful taking in the colors.

Even the dogs had an extra spring in their step as they chased back and forth enjoying the smells. They really love it on the trails. At one point, we came across a wood snake about three feet long and the dogs didn’t want anything to do with it at all. Funny how they know what is not good for them…By the way, that is the first snake I have seen in all of the many hikes I have been on. I guess I make enough noise for them to get out-of-the-way.

Pecan Tree

Pecan Tree

We arrived at the Pecan Tree and as the sign states, it is over two hundred years old with a girth of fifty-eight inches and almost twelve feet in circumference. It looks old and a little worse for wear but I hope I look that good when I reach that age…I tried to take a picture of it and even laying flat on my back could not do it justice. I ended up changing to a wide-angle lens which did the trick and allowed me to get more of the tree into the picture. Gloria stands about five feet three to give you an idea of the size of the tree. We rested for a while enjoying the tree and then went on our way back along the trail. Turns out there are two more Pecan Trees almost of the same size as we continued along the way. Gloria climbed into the fork of one of them to give the size a bit of perspective. Just wonderful to see trees that old and big still living.

Branches of the Pecan Tree

Branches of the Pecan Tree

Pecan Tree Plaque

Pecan Tree Plaque

We followed the trail along Pecan Bottom and back along Deep Sandy to Coyote Road. These were all trails we had not hiked before until we hit Road Runner which we recognized from before. The terrain had changed underfoot and now, much of the trail was covered in pebble stones and small rocks. Much harder to walk on.

On the way back along Road Runner, there is a short branch off to the Overlook at Meditation Point which gives a good view into the valley and the river and is one of the highest points in the park. There were a couple of buzzards floating in the wind and it seemed they were directly overhead and very close. It’s wonderful to watch them as they find the air currents and swoop and glide apparently almost without effort.

View of the River

View of the River

We finally arrived back to the Trail Head at Pope Bend Road. Several of the trailers had already left and the parkway was a little deserted. Altogether, we had hiked about five and a half miles, a nice comfortable hike. We burned off almost five hundred calories and had the good fortune to have stimulating company, good weather and the opportunity to get close to Nature.

George and Gloria along with Nina and Bobby headed home while I sat for a while just enjoying the solitude before de-touring into Bastrop to the local Starbucks to feed my one and only bad habit once more. Altogether a very fun and pleasant day.

 

Hiking with Friends at McKinney Roughs


Two of my closest friends, Gloria and George, asked me if I was interested in hiking the trails at McKinney Roughs. “Interested” I said, “Of course, I am  interested. Nothing better than a long hike”. For me, it brings me closer to Nature and is good for the body and soul and of course, the quality time spent with my friends. Besides, it gives me an excuse to take lots of pictures and then spend time working on them before putting them in a slide show or some other form of sharing. Then there is the blog part of the hike. Writing about it is a good way to keep my mind active and allows me to tell the story for others to share.

We met at the agreed time at McKinney Nature Park just outside of Bastrop. As I was a little late, Gloria had already signed us in and they were patiently waiting as I drove up. We discussed which trail to take and settled on the Riverside trail which as the name implies, would take us down to the Colorado River. This trail is wide open and easy hiking until it turns sharply downhill as it heads to the river. The grade is fairly steep but easy walking. Along the way, we came across the strangest cactus, one which none of us had ever seen before. Then we found another and yet another and concluded that it must be a special type relative only to McKinney Park.

As you can see from the picture above, it must have been someone with a sense of humor who had taken the time to carve the cactus just like a pumpkin with eyes and a mouth. They must have been well prepared with heavy gloves as we all know just how painful those cactus spikes can be. This little episode brightened our day and we saw the same carvings on many different cactus over the several miles that we covered. We came across several horses and riders as the park is also designated as a riding area. What a wonderful way to explore with the horses doing all of the work. Not sure how much riding contributes to the riders fitness except for the enjoyment of sharing life with the animal.

I forgot to mention that my friends brought their little dogs with them, a Chihuahua named  Nina and a Rat Terrier named Bobby. They both did extremely well off their respective leashes except when the horses appeared and then Bobby ran off in the other direction and it took a little bit of George’s coaxing to get him back. Other than that, they both stayed on the trail with us. Gloria had come well prepared as she knew that Nina would get tired and she had a sling fashioned around her neck to carry the little dog. This only happened towards the end of the walk which was to be expected. When we hit the river we had a discussion on which trail to take next and opted for Roadrunner and which eventually ran into Yaupon which would bring us back to our starting point and the cars.

These trails are all pretty much wide open with lots of room and easy walking. They are by no means flat and there are several steep climbs but with easy walking, was not difficult. They were also the longest trails in the park in terms of distance. In a couple of places, the trail crosses roads. One is the road that leads to the Hyatt and the other is Pope Bend Road. We also came real close to a water tower which when we started, seemed like miles off. The trails wind around and very rarely stay straight for more than a quarter of a mile or so before changing direction.

We followed Pope Bend Road for quite some distance walking parallel to it with us inside the fence. Between markers eight and nine, there is a rest station with a couple of benches. We stopped there for a while and I packed my cameras as I had not taken that many pictures. The scenery was pretty drab and typical of winter with very little green stuff and lots of browns and greys of dormant vegetation. I did take pictures of a couple of interesting green plants.

Continuing back on the trail it suddenly occurred to me that I was not wearing my sun glasses. I couldn’t remember taking them off and neither did I realize that I did not have them on. Very weird sensation suddenly not having them. We talked about it and as it was getting late, decided that I would come back the next day and walk the trail to look for them. We continued back along Yaupon and eventually back to our cars.

That ended our hike together. We covered about nine and a half miles according to the pedometer that I always carry with me. Tired but happy, we said our farewells and headed home. Actually, George and Gloria headed home and I took a longer route and went into Bastrop to the Starbucks to feed my one really bad habit, coffee. I read somewhere that coffee is actually good for you so I use that as my excuse for drinking the stuff.

The next day, I headed back to McKinney Nature Park and stopped in the office to enquire if anyone had turned the glasses in but to no avail. The person behind the desk was very accommodating and let me search for them without charging me although, with Senior Citizen status, it only costs me $2.00 under normal circumstances.

I backtracked along Yaupon searching as I went. I figured that if they were laying in plain site, they would be easy to spot. I came to the place where I had noticed them missing and really started to concentrate on my search from that point on. I reached the benches which seemed the most logical place to lose them after re-packing my cameras but they were not there. I sat for a while trying to figure out my next move and decided that I would keep back tracking until I came to the river as I knew that the trail was easy walking for those couple of miles. By then, I was caught up in the glory of being out in the fresh air and communing with nature and just wanted to enjoy it.

Upon reaching the river and remembering the reason for this particular hike, I turned around and headed back along Yaupon towards the Office area searching as I went thinking and re-living the hike of the day before and trying in my mind to recall just where I might have lost the stupid glasses. I remembered taking a picture of a particular plant with my cell phone not wanting to unpack my camera and wondered if I might have removed them at that time. As I was retracing my steps, I found the plant but the again, glasses were not there.

I finished the walk managing to go off course at the very end and found myself walking along Bobcat Ridge and realizing my error, back tracked again to get back on course. I passed a very noisy water treatment plant along the way. Even though my walk was unsuccessful in finding my glasses, it was still very enjoyable. My trusty pedometer showed that I had covered a little over twelve miles.

The following Saturday, I decided to go back for another hike just for the fun of it. I parked and headed for the office and in the course of the conversation, casually asked if anyone had turned in a pair of prescription sun glasses.  The gentleman behind the desk asked me to wait a minute as he went in the other room to take a look. He came out stating that “These are the only pair that have been turned in”. I took a look and after I put them on, I was able to identify to him that these were the ones. I thanked him profusely as I went out to start my hike. I backtracked along Yaupon and at one point, took a detour that brought me to the proclaimed, “Best View of the Valley and Colorado River”. It was a breathtaking view and will be even more spectacular in the Spring when the trees are green. I returned to Yaupon and continued on to the river and then took Coyote Road, a trail that I had not covered before.

At one point, I crossed paths with solitary horse and female rider going in the opposite direction but those were the only other trail users that I saw. It was a pretty steep climb but good walking and brought me back to the Office and my car. One thing that I have noticed when out hiking is the absence of birds and animals. I would have expected more. Altogether, I covered another 9 miles.

I had taken my camera with me which I carry in a special camera backpack that with the pack, camera and extra lenses weighs almost another twenty pounds. Wearing it is like hiking in full gear, so to speak although the pack is very comfortable. I did not take any pictures on this hike as I did not see anything new or different from the week before as I was hiking almost identical trails. But, I had my glasses back, I felt tired but happy and the world was a good place.