Hiking on a Weekend…

DSC_0314I never really had any intent
to hike today thinking instead
I would stay inside and write in my blog
out of the sun and my thoughts to log
onto the page of the next blog I write
hoping to make it a wonderful sight
so that others can read the words on the page
and hope gain something as they engage
in reading this blog fresh from my mind
stories to share of the Nature kind.

I try not on a weekend to hike
not that it doesn’t give me delight
but I like to stay away from the crowd
as noisy and raucous as I have found
that out on the trails solitude makes
happiness when there are pictures to take
especially of animals and birds that need quiet
so as to not get their picture spoilt
a difficult time that often fails
approaching anything live on the trails
as my walking poles make so much noise
and there is no way to disguise
that something is coming and it’s time to flee
and they are gone before they see me.

As much as I like on the trails to meet
other people who are using their feet
getting around out on the path
walking and talking and so I ask
“Can I take your picture” as they walk by
and most of them give me a short reply
“Certainly” as I explain
that I write a blog but I refrain
from using their names just a picture or two
showing them smiling in my view.
I give them my card and wish them well
as I go forward on up the hill
one foot in front of the other I place
sticking to my usual slow pace
and like the tortoise who beat the hare
I reach the end of the trail that I share
with others like me who really feel
Nature’s serenity and beauty is something real.


A Walk At McKinney Roughs on 6-11-2017


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.

Reimers Ranch 5-2-2017


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.


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.


The regrowth taken May 2017


Following the burn January 2017


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.

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.

Hiking is good for the soul…

DSC_1062I love to hike this much is true
one of my most favorite things to do
to get outside and walk a trail
communing with Nature and all the while
exercising in the best possible way
breathing fresh air and striding along
wearing my boots and using my poles
taking pictures is one of my goals
to record the sights and portray in words
sights that I view completely free
to share the walks along with me
next to walking the thing I like most
is to write in my blog my words to post
along with the pictures that others may see
and enjoy the views along with me
as out on the trails as things unfold
the pictures show as the words told
of wondrous views, nature at her best
showing off her beauty while in my small way
I write the words and pictures display
for others to see on any day.

Milton Reimers Ranch, three more hikes.

DSC_1006I went back to Reimers Ranch on 3 out of 4 days, January 16-19 and hiked different trails each time.

On January 16, I decided that cool or not, I needed to get outside and exercise my legs and what better way to do that but to take a hike (literally). I went back to Reimers Ranch as I had left it a little late in the day and it was the closest place for me to go. Not only that, I like hiking there.

The wind was really blowing and there was quite a chill in the air. When I arrived at the parking lot, I went through my usual routines, boots, camera, water and snacks but this time I had an additional item to get ready as one of my sons in England, Peter and his wife Vickie has sent me a pair of hiking poles which arrived just minutes before I left the house and was one reason that I decided to go on a hike. I adjusted them to my required height and added them to my “tools of the trade”.

I really didn’t plan too well as I thought that just a shirt would be sufficient protection from the wind but when I got out on the trail, it was really cold and when I was out in the open, I felt chilled. I thought that I could walk fast enough to stay warm and on the whole I did manage to but I did wish I had put on my jacket. I chose to hike one of the bike trails on the inner circle of the park and a couple of bikes and one runner came by me going in the opposite direction.

I didn’t take a single picture the whole time I was out as I saw nothing of interest that I had not already snapped. Altogether, I covered 4.1 miles and chilled or not, still enjoyed it.

My second hike was on January 18th and this time, it had warmed up considerably enough to where I didn’t need a shirt or jacket. I had decided that I really needed to explore the main multi use trail that encircles the whole park. One of the problems I have had on previous hikes here is finding the right trail that bisects the circle and cuts the main loop in half. All of my previous efforts had led me onto bike trails that tend to wind and twist back on themselves and don’t appear to go anywhere. One of them that I followed on a previous hike led me 8 miles and still didn’t get me back where I wanted to go.  Of course they do get somewhere but take a lot longer walking. I was determined to find the right trail this time out.

DSC_0969I decided to take the inner trail heading West and follow it past Turkey Loop. Three horses and riders passed me going in the opposite direction and I took their pictures. I eventually got  to Johnny’s Homestead. There I took another Multi-Use Trail going South which brought me back to the Mountain Bike Parking Lot and to my car.I covered 4.7 miles of fairly easy walking and had finally figured out the system of trails.

I took a few pictures but the problem with going to the same park on a consistent basis is that the scenery doesn’t change a lot. Everything has it’s winter browns and greys and not much color.

The last hike I took on Tuesday, January 19th. This time, I decided that I was going to walk the entire main loop of Multi Use Trails. Following my usual procedure of boots, camera, water and fruit and now my new walking poles, I was almost ready to go. This time I wore my camera vest to keep warm. I started off in the opposite direction than I did the day before as at least one half of the trail was going to be new to me and I wanted to take a few pictures of that. I followed the Multi Use trail which incidentally is wide enough for the Park rangers to drive as they patrol the park and for the most part, really easy walking.

The  trail at the southernmost  end of the Park leads through more wooded areas breaking out into the occasional prairie. At one point and for a distance of a half mile or so, the trail follows a fairly large stream that may be called Pogue Stream but I am not sure of that.I took several pictures of it and in places, it is fairly wide with the usual Bald Cypress trees growing up from the bottom of the canyon. I believe it is the same stream that acts as the boundary on the Northernmost end of the Park.

We left the stream as the trail follows in a northerly direction and eventually arrived at Johnny’s Homestead only this time from the opposite direction. I figured I was about halfway around the loop and making good time. The double walking poles are a godsend and really help to move me along at a good pace. Now, I was covering the same ground as I did the day before as I walked towards and then past Turkey Loop. I eventually ended up in the parking lot by my car having covered a distance of 6.0 miles.

This Park is a really a nice place to hike and I am sure I will be going back in a couple of days especially now that I have figured out the Multi Use trail system.

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A Hot Day in Texas

DSC_5640It has been while it seems
from writing about my dreams
and other stuff that interest me
especially my photography.

Some days when I have a plan
to work on a project that I have devised
it may be out in the yard
or on one of the ponds of which I have five

Other days when it is hot
I stay inside and write a lot
about the things that I have done
or of places that I have seen.

Hiking the places I have not been
will give me more things that I can write
and all of the pictures that I take
I will post for others to enjoy the sights.

When it cools down…

A Road Trip to Llano

DSC_5839It was Sunday and I had an itch to get out somewhere, anywhere to take some pictures. It was already noon time and the temperature in the 90’s and was forecast to reach 100 so I knew that taking a hike was right out of the question. That is unless, I wanted to avoid heat stroke or something like it. So, I hopped into my car after collecting my camera bag with all of its lenses and stuff ready to go and decided that I would drive to Llano and then make a big sweep around back through Fredericksburg and then home taking pictures along the way.

As soon as I crossed Hwy 290 just outside of Marble Falls on Hwy 71, the scenery gradually began to change. Away in the distance, I could see a line of hills and I was heading towards them. I passed a sign that directed to Round Mountain but although I was tempted, I stuck to my original plan and continued along Hwy 71 stopping several times to take pictures of the impressive hill structures off to my right. Round Mountain will be a separate trip. The rock formation had changed from the grey limestone of the Austin area to a solid almost red colored granite. In places, the rock was sticking out of the ground in huge curved formations with the grass growing solidly all around it.

I arrived at Llano and took a drive through the town exploring it a bit before parking and then getting out of my car to walk around. The Llano river runs right through the middle of the town splitting it in two. It has a damn that holds back the water and an old steel arch bridge that carries the road from one side to the next. Llano is the county seat of Llano County and one of its historical buildings is the old Llano Jail known as the Red Top Jail. This building is actually pretty impressive as it sits all by itself. It has been going through a lot of repairs and rehab and is currently closed to the public.

As you can imagine, many of the buildings are very old by Texas standards including the County Courthouse which stands in the middle of town. In front of the courthouse are various  memorials to those that served in the different wars including both the Viet Nam and Korean wars. There are two major statues, one to remember the Confederate War and the other World War 1 and 2.

There are many old building grouped around Main Street and on one side, a covered walkway reminiscent of days gone by. Many are eating establishments and almost without exception, all lay claim to some sort of fame. As you can imagine, many shops sell local artifacts and mementos and some have older and more historical items on display. There is a Museum which I did not have time to visit. Maybe on another day.

I spent an enjoyable couple of hours wandering around and took over 100 pictures some of which appear below. My impression of Llano is that it is a sleepy small time town situated on the banks of the Llano River and would probably make a great place to  retire especially if you like to hunt deer as it has the title of the Deer Hunting Capital of the West.

I had a change of plans about the way home and headed towards Lake Buchanan and then Inks Lake and took several pictures along the way. At one point, I stopped to look at an old railroad trestle which looked very similar to the bridge in Llano. I did not go into the Inks Lake State Park other than to get some brochures for maybe a later visit.

I headed home through Burnet and then back down along 183 and home stopping on the way at a Starbucks that for the first time in my life served a half cold latte. I should have gone back and complained but was already heading home and it was not worth the bother.

All in all, a very enjoyable trip and it is real fun to visit these old towns of Texas and try to get a feel of the days gone by. I was very glad that I made the effort to get out.

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