McKinney Roughs 7-27-2017


DSC_6384-PanoEven though the forecast was for the temperatures to get to one hundred degrees, I decided that I wanted to go out again for another walk. I couldn’t make up my mind where to go and finally decided that McKinney Roughs had the most shade cover and was probably the best place.

Something came up which delayed me getting out early and it was almost 11:00 am by the time I arrived at the Park. On the way over, I was mulling over in my mind which trails I wanted to hike and had more or less decided that I would take Coyote Road and then hit Riverside. From there, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go and was going to play it by ear.

I paid my $2:00 and chatted to the young lady at the desk for a bit and learned that some of the trail repairs were complete although it is still not possible to complete the big loop that includes Road Runner and Yaupon.

I set off down Coyote Road which is a big wide trail with not too much shade but heads downhill towards the river. Both Coyote Road and Riverside are best hiked going down as both are somewhat hilly especially Roadrunner.

On the way, after seeing a Roadrunner in the Parking Lot, I followed another one that kept making short flights ahead of me until it finally tired of that game and headed into the brush. It was too far off to get any meaningful shots of it. As I crested one of the short hills on the trail, two deer crossed the road in front of me and of course, were gone by the time I got the long lense camera out and ready. I continued stealthily past the spot where they had entered the brush but they were truly gone.

Continuing down Coyote Road towards the end where it had previously washed out, I took a look at the work that LCRA has performed in rebuilding the washout. It looks like the actual rebuilding of the ditch is complete and now all that remains is a bridge to span the gap. Still a few months away, I would guess.

Heading back , I took Riverside which as the name implies, brings you alongside of the river. That is a very nice trail to walk on with the temperatures so hot as it is completely covered with this wonderful canopy of trees. I was looking for anything of interest that might be in or around the river and spotted a whole flock of Vultures. I could not see what type they were whether they were Black or Turkeys and none took off while I watched them for around 10 minutes. I counted forty or more and I have never seen so many in one place. I have no idea what they were congregating for or about as none appeared to be eating on anything. Maybe it was a Vulture Convention to discuss the weather or the shortage of carrion. Who knows…

I finally left that pack of birds and headed along Riverside and then crossed over onto Bobcat Ridge which I knew would bring me back to my car. On the way, I could hear a whole bunch of people coming and as I rounded the corner, met up with a large group of maybe 25-30 young kids accompanied by two Adults. All the kids were carrying water bottles and pulled over to one side to let me by when instructed to by the lead adult. All that is, except one boy who wanted to know why he had to move over. As I got level with him I said, “It’s age before beauty and I am a lot older and much uglier than you”. Everyone laughed at this as he moved out of the way.

It’s great to see the kids out in the woods enjoying and learning about Nature. Nowadays, kids do not spend enough time outdoors and many haven’t a clue how Nature works, or what sort of trees and flowers they are looking at, or what are the names of the different birds and animals they might be lucky enough to see.

After leaving the kids behind, I continued along Bobcat Ridge and crossed back onto Riverside only because I was running low on water and knew I could replenish as soon as I hit the buildings. As I was taking a picture of the horizon, a young couple came down the hill making real easy work of it. They stopped so as not to get in the way of the shot and I got a back view of them as they disappeared.
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I continued climbing up Riverside which, apart from the steps on Pine Ridge, is the steepest trail in the park. I arrived back at the Park Headquarters and spent some time taking pictures of the flowers planted in the gardens. All are Native Plants and last year were inundated with butterflies. Not  sure what has happened but there are not too many flying today.

All in all, a very enjoyable but somewhat hot, hike. I covered 6.5 miles and got a few shots. I was looking for birds and saw very few and even less to take pictures of. I could hear them but that was about it.

Below are two videos. The first is of the trails at McKinney Roughs, mostly of Coyote Road and Riverside with a couple of Bobcat Ridge.

Trails at McKinney Roughs 7-17-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The second is the flowers at McKinney Roughs. Most of them are in the gardens at the Park Headquarters but all are native Plants. There are a couple from out on the trail but they are getting hard to find.

The Flowers at McKinney Roughs 7-27-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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.

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

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.

Walking McKinney Roughs 10-16-2016


dsc_4226-panoIt was time to walk as I headed for my most favorite of walking places, McKinney Roughs. I arrived at the Park and there were several cars in the parking area so I thought I might run into some people out on the trail.

Following my usual routine of boots, hat, neckerchief around my forehead, water and backpack along with my camera belt and camera and I was ready to go. I decided that I would start off along Riverside and then onto Pine Ridge and hike it for its full distance, steps and all. Actually, I ended up taking Cypress so that I could walk alongside of the river just in case there might be some wildlife around but that  was after I had reconnoitered the many steps both up and down Pine Ridge.

I was in the area where the Zip Lines are being built and it looked like they were real close to be opened for the Public. The lady in the office had told me they would be testing everything “next week” before they could be opened.

From Cypress, where I had met another hiker taking a rest on one of the picnic tables, I headed up Riverside for a short distance before taking the trail to Bobcat Ridge which brought me back to the Parking Area. I met several people along the way and stopped and chatted to most of them before giving them my card and taking their picture.

Altogether, I covered a little over 4.5 miles in much cooler weather ideal for hiking. There are still a few flowers some by the office attracting a large number of butterflies.

Altogether, this is a beautiful place to hike and everything is still so very green. With the weather cooling down, there is not so much urgency to start early and consequently it was closer to 4:00 pm when I got back to the Parking Lot. I never met any horses on my trails but did catch sight of a couple that were on Whitetail.dsc_4206

McKinney Roughs 10-1-2016


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Nature at her best.

I decided at the last minute to take a walk at my favorite place, McKinney Roughs on Saturday, October 1, 2016. I knew that the weather forecast called for cloudy skies and a little lower temperatures so  even with a late start, I should be OK.

I arrived at the Pope Bend Trailhead and there were already several horse trailers and cars in the lot. As I was getting ready, a group of six horses and riders came out of the trails and finished up their ride, dismounting and leading their horses to the water troughs or to the hose wash downs. They were chatting up a storm and were of mixed ages from adults to kids of about fifteen as best I could guess. Quite obviously, they had a successful ride.dsc_4029

I continued with my own preparations and after a false start with forgetting to change into my boots managed to get on my way. I took Yaupon for about half a mile and then branched off onto Buckeye as my plan was to walk the lower trails. I then moved on to Pecan Bottom and passed the giant Pecan Tree and took its picture and stopped to re-arrange my pack. I looked at the two hundred plus year old tree and wondered what stories it could tell as it sat here for all of those years. It still looks in good shape and could easily last another hundred years. I met a couple of horses and riders and we chatted for a bit and I managed to take their picture.

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This is not the 200 year old tree but another just like it and growing about 100 yards apart.

From Pecan Bottom I  got onto Deep Sandy which took me by the river.There I saw a couple of White Egrets. I ran into a younger couple who very excitedly told me they were on their honeymoon and were staying at the Hilton. They were from Houston. I moved on after wishing them all of the joy in the world and to have a wonderful life together and then got back to the more mundane but highly enjoyable at least to me, task of walking and  joined up with Coyote Road. As I rounded a curve in the trail, this big deer was standing right in front of me. Of course it was much faster than me in getting my camera up to take it’s picture and was long gone before I had even dropped my hand to the camera belt. As a western gunman, I would be dead as the deer had the drop on me.

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The Honeymooners.

As I started away from the river, I could hear what sounded like an Airboat roaring up the river and breaking the wonderful silence. I was too far away to take a picture but I could see as it flashed past, that it contained passengers. It roared up and down for several minutes scaring away more than a half dozen of the White Egrets. I figured it must be from the Hilton as one of their river trip offerings.

I kept walking along Coyote Road which I knew would bring me back to the Trailhead. On the way, I met up with another younger couple and we chatted for a while. They very willingly let me take their picture. Continuing along Coyote Road and heading back to the car, I passed a whole group of men as they were setting out on their hike.

I took a turn off onto the Overlook at Meditation Point and took a couple of pictures of the view looking up the river. I finally made it back to the Trailhead after covering about 5.5 miles. I found several flowers and took pictures and even found a squirrel who was busy collecting nuts on Pecan Bottom. He was a friendly little guy and was not a bit intimidated by my presence as he went about his business.dsc_4072

As usual, a great hike and very enjoyable. I really like hiking at McKinney Roughs. It has lots of shade and real trees with the Oaks, Elms, Firs and Pecans. The trails are always in first class condition and great to walk on.

I made my usual trip to Starbucks in Bastrop to help me on the long drive home.dsc_4088

If you click on any picture it will enlarge to full size and you can use the side arrows to move around. Use the “Escape” button to get back to normal.

I have grouped together the pictures. The first is of all of the flowers I was able find even this late in the season.

 

The next grouping is of the wonderful trails that can be found at McKinney Roughs.

A wonderful place to hike.

 

McKinney Again…


dsc_3889-panoI just had to get out and exercise so I chose to take a short walk at McKinney Roughs. I figured that the paths would have dried up after the last time I was there as it had been several days. I chose a route that I knew would not be muddy except maybe in one place close to the river.

I arrived around 10:00 am with the weather still cool. There were only a few cars in the lot for a Saturday and I would have expected more especially now that the weather is beginning to cool down at least, comparatively speaking. Believe me, ten degrees cooler is a lot in Texas.

I went through my usual preparations, boots, walking poles, hat, water and set off taking Riverside which I knew to be a long wide open trail which as the name suggests, leads down to the river. The top portion of this trail is pretty level before it turns and takes a fairly steep downhill grade towards the river. While the upper trail is very easy walking underfoot, the downhill part is made up of loose stones that tend to roll under your feet making for tricky walking. At one point, a female runner and her dog passed me and it didn’t appear that either of them had any problems with their footing. Oh to be young again… I also met another couple each with a dog as they walked towards me on Riverside. They were heading back in and when I asked them, replied they had had a very good walk.

 

There is still a major trail washout where Riverside joins with Bluestein but it is still possible to take Cypress which also goes  close by the river. I took the walking trail which is kind of narrow and not too well used as there is now a much wider trail that leads to the River. As I was taking pictures, a whole group of horses and riders came down the wider trail and we exchanged greetings as they walked their horses into the river and then down stream for a little bit. The riders were all ladies. I took a few pictures of them before moving on. I could hear them for several minutes as they were obviously enjoying themselves. Not sure about the horses though…

I followed Cyprus with the intention of crossing over onto Pine Ridge and then to Bobcat Ridge. Somewhere, at the intersection, I took the wrong trail and ended up following the dreaded Pine Ridge Trail which would take me up and down many steps built into the trail. I purposely had tried to avoid this part but through my own stupidity, ended up taking it anyway. Oh well, at least I got much more of a workout climbing up and down those dreaded steps.

I had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Zip Lining Project that is currently ongoing in the Park. It looks to me that there will be several towers and several different lines and not all are interconnected. It will be interesting to see the finished product. Not sure if I will be brave enough to try it unless it is a quick way to get from one trail to another.

I managed to find a surprising number of flowers that are still in bloom compared to the last time I was here. Maybe that last shower had something to do with it.

I continued along Pine Ridge which is actually a nice walk as long as you are not climbing steps until I connected with Bobcat Ridge which I knew would pass close to the Parking Lot where my car was parked. All in all, it was a very enjoyable walk, much better than the last time when I had 20 pounds of mud on each boot. Below are pictures of the trails and other interesting things that I observed on this trip.

I covered almost six miles and as I usually do when I am at the Roughs, finished the day with a quick drive into Bastrop for a Grande Latte to help me while away the time as I listened to Stephen King’s  “The Talisman” on the long trip home.

The panorama at the top is made up of five different pictures. As with all of these groups, if you click  on any one of them, they will enlarge and you can move along by using the side arrows. Use the “Escape” button to return to normal.