A Walk at Pedernales Falls State Park 5-30-2016

DSC_2333I haven’t been on a walk in several days and I noticed that holding my weight seems to be directly correlated to the walking that I do. No walks and the weight goes up, walk and off it comes. With that thought in mind and with the reminder that my weight had increased by 3 pounds, I told myself that it was time to get up of my fat(ter) ass and get out there.

In truth, I have been busy with the blog site and with the other site I maintain for the Austin Pond Society and it has been very wet (for Texas). Visions of mud packed boots each weighing 20 pounds or more was a bit of added deterrent. So, with nothing immediately pressing, I packed some fruit and filled my water bottle and jumped into the car for the hour long drive to Pedernales Falls listening to Stephen Kings Dark Tower Book 4 on the way.

We had heavy rain last evening and I expected the trails to be muddy in places but I know the Pedernales Trails are also well covered with rocks so I was hoping for a happy medium. The place was booming and it seemed that everyone and his brother and their family was pulling up and wanting to get into the park. Of course it was a Holiday, Memorial Day which probably accounted for a lot of the traffic.

I paid my $6 and showed my State Park card, grabbed a fresh map and went back to my car. I had already done some research before I left the house and had more or less decided that would hike the Madrone Trail. I drove back out of the Park and parked my car in the lot off Pedernales Falls Road, 201. There was one other car in the lot but it was late to go hiking as it was already 2:00 pm. Most avid hikers usually get out early to beat the heat of the day which incidentally, was beginning to warm up to about 85 degrees.

After the usual process of putting on boots,  strapping on the camera belt, packing the fruit and water and grabbing my hiking poles, I was ready to be off. The weather has now turned humid with the recent rains and it wasn’t long before I had worked up a sweat.

I hiked East along the Madrone Trail heading towards the East Boundary of the Park. The trail was a bit muddy in places and there was water standing and running in places that was not there on previous hikes along this trail. It was remarkably quiet with only the occasional bird song or call, kind of eerie as I was expecting more bird noises. I did not see any animals or other hikers and hardly any flowers as the Spring flowering season had moved along.

I crossed the Pedernales Falls Road with the intent of continuing along the Madrones Trail although I was not planning on covering it all of the way. Having not been walking in a while and with the weather warming up, I did not want to overdo it. I reached the intersection where the Madrone Trail met with the Wheatley Trail which would bring me back to the Pipeline ROW. From there,  I followed the Pipeline until I hit Windmill Road which I knew would bring me back almost to the Parking Lot. The Pipeline is not really a part of the trail system but it is walkable, with lots of loose shale and a couple of steep up and downs. One has to be careful not to slip and fall ass over tip on the loose material especially going downhill. Windmill Road takes you right through a parking/camping area set up for horses and trailers although there were none in it as I walked through.

I got back to the car a very happy walker. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable hike although the summer heat will take a bit of getting used to. It had affected me more that I liked and I probably should make sure to start out early next time. Altogether, I covered 16,870 steps which translates to 7.5 miles on my step length and burned 343 calories. Hard to burn those things off. With the exception of a few birds, I never saw another living thing, animal or human. I took a few pictures but was not able to capture anything really dramatic. The cedar (Ashe Juniper) is persistent throughout the Park and there are not too may Live Oaks so the scenery is very repetitive.

On the way home, I made my usual stop at Starbucks, a nice way to finish off the day.

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.

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