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 5-2-2017


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This panorama of several pictures shows the flowers in all of their glory.

Now that I am pretty much caught up with the yardwork, the ponds and cleaning all of the sheds, I have time to get back out on the trails again, just where I love to be.

I decided that I would take a short walk at Reimers Ranch and the trails were flashing through my mind after having hiked there many times before, as I drove to the location. The weather was pretty warm with the forecast to reach 90 degrees and sunny and Reimers only has limited cover on most of the trails. I thought about it and decided that I would take the recently built trail known as the Hogge Trail which as yet, is still not shown on any of the trail maps.

I chatted to the lady at the gate and she remembered me even though it has been a while and I told her of my plans. How does that saying go, “The best laid plans of mice and men…”. Well, after I pulled into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot which I had entirely to myself, and changed into my boots and gear including putting on my backpack and camera, I had a change of heart, jumped back into the car with all of my gear on and very awkwardly drove to the Pavilion Parking Area instead which was just across the road.

At the last minute, I had decided that I would hike the Multi Use trail all the way to where it hits the spot where the Pogue Creek joins the Pedernales River which is the westernmost point of the park but somewhere along the way, for reasons best left alone, I changed my mind yet again and stayed on the Multi Use Trail. I came to the signpost for the Kelly Prehn and Pogue Canyon Trails and opted to walk both of them. There is not much water in the creek at either overlook. The magnificent Cypress trees in the Pogue Canyon look taller and greener than ever. I wonder why the Travis County Parks people have not made an actual trail that connects the Pogue Canyon Trail and then  following the creek all the way to its furthermost end. That would make for a nice loop. Come to that, why not a trail that follows the creek for the entire way.  Oh well. dsc_4562

I walked back and rejoined the Multi Use Trail to where it meets Johnny’s Homestead and made my way back to the Parking Lot from where I started, taking many pictures along the way. The high spot of the day was to get a picture of a Ruby Throated Hummingbird as it drew nectar from a thistle. It was totally unexpected as I was focusing on the flower when the bird suddenly appeared. I never had time for any camera adjustments and kept snapping away in the hope that at least one picture would come out and luckily for me, one did.DSC_5301

Before calling it a day, I wandered over to the Pedernales River Overlook and took a couple of pictures. I met a few people along this part of the trails but none on the other trails I had walked. One couple were obviously rock climbers as they had on all the gear and were very animatedly talking about and working on climbing knots as they walked.

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The wildflowers are outdoing themselves and I took nearly 80 pictures.  I have one interesting shot of the controlled burn as it looked back in January to what it looks like today. Nature is amazing and apart from some Oak tree damage, it would be hard to tell there was ever a burn.

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The regrowth taken May 2017

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Following the burn January 2017

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Showing the burn damage to the lower branches.

Reimers Ranch Trails and Creek 5-2-2017

Reimers Ranch Trails and Creek 5-2-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Postscript:
Following this walk, one thing became very obvious and that is that hiking is not something that you can lay off for a while and then pick back up by just going out and taking a stroll. At least, not when you are in the advanced years that I unfortunately happen to be. It requires much more consistency of walking by going out at least a couple of times a week. My layoff from around the first of February really showed in yesterday’s walk as I found myself tiring towards the end of the 6th mile. Working in the garden is not the same as consistent walking. I no longer walk fast but pride myself on being able to walk for a long time so just like when I was younger and trained very hard for the game I love, (Football to us Brits, soccer to you Yanks), I need to walk more often.  I don’t propose to get into a serious training regime but I do plan on getting out on the trails more frequently. Just gotta work those tired old muscles.

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

Hiking at Pedernales Falls 10-23-2016


dsc_4303I decided that I wanted to go walking and this time, I chose to walk at Pedernales Falls State Park as I hadn’t been there in a while. After my usual preparations of packing fruit and water bottles and making sure that the cats are safely in their own room away from Richie, one of my male Dachshunds who, in the past has inflicted damage to both of them., I was ready to go.

The route that I take to get to the Park is usually along Fitzhugh Road until it crosses Route 12 and then continues on as West Fitzhugh Road. These are country roads and if I am lucky, I sometimes get to see Mother Nature at her best. Today was one of those days as I drove along and was about a mile from the Route 12 junction when I spotted something in the field off to my right. I am well used to seeing Buzzards collected around a dead animal but this did not look like a buzzard. For one thing, it had an all white head and neck which showed up very well as the bird was taking a long look at the road. I would say that it was about fifty feet inside the field and very visible.

I wanted to stop but there were cars behind me so I had to keep going until I found a place to turn around which I did making my way back to where I had seen the bird. My intentions were to take pictures but just as I was pulling up, the bird, who was still looking at the road, took off. Needless to say, my camera was still on the car seat and the car was still moving with not a hope in hell of taking pictures. The bird, no more than fifty feet from me was very visible and I could clearly see the white tail feathers as it flew off. I could not believe what I was seeing as it had to be a Bald Eagle. I didn’t know there were any around this part of Texas with the nearest ones at Lake Buchanan. I marveled at my good fortune in spotting this beautiful bird as it flew off but cursed under my breath that I had not gotten any pictures.

I continued on my way and hadn’t gone very far when a grey fox ran out in front of me as it bounded over to the other side of the road. It had a tail that was so bushy it was almost as big as its body. Again, no hope of a picture. I finally reached the Park entrance without seeing any more of Natures wonders, paid my money and headed to the Wolf Mountain Parking area.

Being a Sunday with cooler weather, as expected the parking area was pretty full so I knew that I would meet a lot of people on the trail. I first chose to hike the Juniper Ridge Trail and got as far as the turn off before changing my mind and decided to walk the South Loop Equestrian Trail instead. I hoped to see horses and was in luck when a group of them came by. There were eight in all, the most I have ever seen on any trail at one time. Further on down the trail, I met up with two pretty young ladies both on huge horses and looking very comfortable in the saddle. The last two proved to be the only others that I saw on this day.

I met a lot of hikers going in both directions. I should say that anyone going in the same direction as myself would very quickly pass me as I am so slow. Even though in my mind, I am making a good pace, everyone and I mean everyone has no trouble passing me. My only excuse is that I stop to take pictures but the real truth is I just don’t have any speed anymore. Many of the hikers agreed to letting me take their pictures and others I snapped as they walked away from me. One couple went by me early on the South Loop Trail with full backpacks containing a tent and full sleeping equipment. They were training for a long overnight hike . I didn’t envy them as those backpacks were huge and looked very heavy.dsc_4283

I didn’t stay on the South Loop and when it crossed Windmill Road, I took it towards Wolf Mountain. I knew that the Wolf Mountain Trail would be easy walking compared to some I had covered on the South Loop and for the homeward trip, thought it made the most sense. I passed another couple coming up Windmill Road who also had on pretty heavy looking backpacks. We exchanged greetings as we passed and I headed on to my way home. It seemed that I was the Trail Guide for the day as several of the groups and pairs that I met asked me for trail directions. Luckily, I have been there so many times and have learned the trails the hard way by getting lost, that I was pretty much able to put them on the right trail. There were not very many flowers blooming at this park although I did come across a cedar bridge that had been built into the trail and also one of the trees had this huge growth that made it look like something from another world.

On the way back along Wolf Mountain Trail, there were several people just heading out. It was around 4:30 pm and they still had a couple of hours of daylight, enough to walk the Wolf Mountain Trail and back. One man and his daughter let me take their picture as they branched off towards the Camping Area. Later, they caught back up with me and the wife and son came to meet them and we sort of all cruised in together into the Parking Area.

Along the trail, I came across a large pile of stones that some enterprising person(s) had very carefully stacked together.

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Altogether, I covered 9.5 miles and made really good time. I was able to add quite considerably to the Aerobic steps recorded on my pedometer. Makes a huge difference when it is not 100 degrees outside. Today, the temperature was around 82 degrees and much more bearable. Walking Wolf Mountain Trail also made a difference as some of the other trails are not very wide and are rocky and uneven and hard to walk on let alone do it at any speed.

The one thing that is very noticeable now that we are into the Fall season is that this park looks very drab as compared to those on the East side of Austin. Even the greens are not very bright and of course the Cedars always look drab which is what ninety five percent of the vegetation is at this Park. Altogether though, it was a very enjoyable experience and I can’t wait to get back here again.

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.

 

Pedernales on June 22, 2016


DSC_3119Another hike at Pedernales brought on by my desire to get out and about.  This time, I drove into the Wolf Mountain Trail Parking Lot and then opted to take the North Loop Equestrian Trail for a bit before branching off to the East Boundary Trail travelling South. I followed this for about a mile and then took the trail that I thought would lead me back to the parking lot. However, I managed to take the wrong trail and cut back too soon meaning that I backtracked over the same trail more than I had originally anticipated.

I still ended up back at the parking lot but cut a little of my planned hike. I walked a total of 4 miles on another hot day with some shade provided by the cedars so it was not all bad. Interestingly enough, the trail was still quite wet in places as the water continued to drain down from the higher areas. At one point, I came across a solitary egg, deposited on the ground. There was no nest and no sign of any bird watching over it. A bit of a mystery.

I got some great pictures of the wonderful views and many of the various types of trail that I walked. An enjoyable couple of hours out walking.

As with all of these pictures, if you click on any one of them, it will enlarge and you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

 

McKinney…Again 6-19-2016


DSC_3046After enjoying yesterday’s walk at Mckinney so much, I decided that I needed to go again only this time, I would take the longer trail. The trails down alongside the river are still closed awaiting repair after the recent floods but I figured that I could still walk the big loop comprising of Buckeye, Pecan Bottom, Coyote Road and back to the parking lot via Yaupon.

I drove into the Pope Bend Trailhead noticing a couple of horse trailers already in the lot. The horses and riders were already out on the trails. It was good to see the horses back as they had been banned due to the floods. I followed the usual preparations of boots, hat, camera belt, camera and hiking poles and set off along Buckeye. The first thing that I saw were the trails had all been dressed and were wonderfully smooth (for trails).

The walking was just great and I walked along accompanied by birdsong of different kinds. Seems like there were a lot more birds than usual. From Buckeye I took Pecan Bottom which is home to many large Pecan Trees the most famous of which has its own sign which indicates it is over 200 years old. it is huge and although I took a picture, I cannot do it justice as I can’t get the entire tree into the frame.

From Pecan Bottom, I walked along Coyote Road and met the horse and riders as they headed back to the parking lot. I snapped a couple of pictures of them as they passed each calling out a cheery greeting.

THe going got a little tricky where Coyote Road and Roadrunner intersected as the trails had a major washout at this point. I was able to squeeze through enough to continue along Coyote Road which at the point turns into a major uphill climb all the way until the trail intersects with Yaupon.

This was the home stretch although it by itself, was almost 3 miles of walking. I made steady progress and was very grateful that the trails were sheltered with tall trees as the day was growing hot. I spotted a few flowers along the way including the wild variety of the Lantana. It looks exactly the same as the common garden variety.

Yaupon is an interesting trail to hike. It has many ups and downs and is shaded for most of the way. It helped that it too had been recently dressed which made the walking so much more comfortable. I passed one other couple going in the opposite direction (I never pass anyone going in the same direction)  and finally made it back to the parking lot.

Altogether, I covered almost 6 miles and arrived back to the car to find that the horse trailers had all gone and I had the lot to myself. As usual, I was totally sweat soaked as the temperature was well above 90 degrees but I knew that a bottle of water and a Starbucks Grande Latte and I would be just fine.

Although many of the trail pictures look very similar, they are all of different parts of the trails. There is one picture of a dead moth that I had never seen before. All in all, another very enjoyable way to spend a few hours.

Again, as with all of these pictures, if you click on anyone of them, it will enlarge it and then you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.