The Trails at Mayfield Park Preserve 8-13-2017


DSC_0727-PanoI had an Austin Pond Society meeting scheduled for 3:00 pm this past Sunday which was going to be held at Mayfield Park. Making the most of the moment, so to speak, I arrived a couple of hours early so that I could walk the trails at Mayfield Park Preserve. In my many visits to this Park generally with something related to fish and ponds, I had seen many people drive in to use the trails and wanted to find out for myself.

I  took the time to change into my boots and strapped  on my single camera harness as I only planned on carrying the one camera with the 16-300 lens which is my go to lens for all occasions. After making  sure that I had my water bottle and walking poles I was ready to move. I stopped at the kiosk to take a look at the map and just like the last place, St Edwards Park, this map was also backwards from how I was viewing it. I quickly worked out where I wanted to go and set off down the trail along with several other people including a family who were carrying swimming stuff, towels and floats and the sort of thing one would associate with going to the beach or around here, one of the lakes. They disappeared down the opposite trail to the one that I took (thank goodness) as I strode away on my chosen path.

I wandered around for about an hour and a half exploring many of the trails. There did not seem to be much organization but without a map, which I was not able to locate either at the site or on the web, it was hard to know where to go. Many of the trails were very steep and/or required climbing up or down rock faces more like a rock climbing exercise than a walk on the trails. I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on my side but I switched and took the trail taken by the swimming family.

This trail eventually brought me down to Town Lake but I never did see a spot that the swimming family could hit the water. Of course, I have no idea if I covered all of the trails on this side either and there may be others that I did not see.

I retraced my steps back to the Parking Lot and sat for a while before changing into dry clothes in readiness for the meeting.  The car parked next to me was driven by a young and pretty lady in the skimpiest of bikinis who was very busy first hoisting her float board onto her car and then taking a very long time to tie it down to the roof rack. Her boyfriend was helping her and I was glad when they finally drove off as I was having the hardest time in not staring at her. Interestingly enough, she was not a bit fazed by her almost nakedness and was in no hurry to complete her tasks. I wanted to take pictures but didn’t have the nerve to ask her to pose for me. Maybe because her boyfriend was a lot bigger and younger than me? I am definitely not a prude but it was a bit unnerving (in a good way). Jeez, I gotta be getting bloody old.

The trails are tree covered nearly all of the way so there was a lot of shade. Most were easy walking except where they went up and over the rock face and there they suddenly got very difficult.

Below is a link to the slideshow of the trails.

Trails at Mayfield Park 8-12-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

Another of some of the views.

Views at Mayfield Park Trails 8-13-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Reimers Ranch 7-24-2017


DSC_6368I went to Reimers Ranch with the intent purpose of taking bird pictures or if I was lucky, maybe even get to see a Wild Turkey, as I had this new long distance lens that I have been working with these last couple of hikes.

Consequently, I parked in the very last lot and after gearing up in my usual fashion set off along the Turkey Trail at a slow pace looking not only for the Turkeys but also for any birds that may be around. Birds tend to fly out in front of you as you walk and are always a distance away. I was using the long distance lens as a bino but it is way too heavy to just hold up and look through for any length of time so I guess I need to invest in a good pair of binoculars. I managed to get a few bird pictures including a couple as I was sitting on the bench at the end of the Turkey Trail.

I wandered down the Multi Purpose Trail towards the very end of the Park where the creek intersects with the river. Along the way, two White Tailed deer ran past me and disappeared into the brush. As usual, I was not prepared for anything that quick and missed the shots. Using two walking poles as I do, restricts carrying a camera in my hands or around my neck and although the harness I wear is pretty slick, it is not built for a quick draw McGraw and would be no good in a gunfight.

It is really pretty on that part of the multi use trail with some nice Oak trees on the one side and Spruce trees close to the creek. As I approached the end of the trail, I spooked a blue heron who took off and landed a couple of hundred yards further away downstream.DSC_6360

The trails at this end of the Park.

I sat for a while contemplating on my next move whether to backtrack or to go along the bottom trail which is much easier now that the Parks people have mowed and cleaned it up. As I dislike back tracking if I can avoid it, I decided to take the lower trail which leads me past the rock climbing areas. I was on the lookout for more birds as I walked and spotted a couple of warblers . There were some people climbing as I heard them talking but they were not on any of the faces that I could see.

There are still a few wildflowers out making a nice break and adding to the color.

I stayed on this trail for a bit before taking one of the trails leading up to the middle Parking Area. From there, a nice slow walk back to the lot where my car was parked along the main gravel trail that is on top of the bluff overlooking the river. This is an easy walking trail and fairly level.

Some of the views of the interesting rock structure and the lower trails.

Arriving back at my car, I was the only car left on the lot which is another reason I like hiking through the week. It was extremely hot with the temperatures creeping up towards the one hundred degree mark. I had drank almost two bottles of water and covered a little over 5 miles and as usual, was totally soaked with sweat. Good job I always bring a change of clothes or my car would be a worse mess than it already is.

Altogether, another nice hike but I do need to brush up on my camera preparedness somehow…I should mention that the original intent was to locate and take pictures of as many birds as possible but sitting around is boring and I ended up walking, as usual.

On the way back home, I decided to take another drive and turned West to follow RR 3238. Follow this link for this story.

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.

McKinney Falls State Park 7-21-2017


DSC_0291-PanoI called my friend BJ to see if she wanted to take a walk but she had other plans so I decided that I would go out on my own anyway. I figured that as we have not had any rain to talk of these past two months, I might be able to cross over Onion Creek to get to the trails on the other side. I have been to this park many times but have not been able to cross due to high water levels.

I set out early (for me) and arrived at the park around 9:30 am. As to be expected, there were already several cars ahead of me as I waited to pay my $3:00 and sign in. I made my way to the Lower Falls parking area which has a large swimming hole and was where I needed to cross the river.

I changed into my hiking boots and then geared up with my two camera harness and my backpack. I also carry two bottles of water as I had the experience of running out on a hike at Pedernales Falls on a hot day and I vowed not to let that happen again. I use Hydroflask metal bottles that are vacuum sealed to keep the contents cool. One contains 21 oz and the other at 24 oz. They work well and keep the contents very cool but they do add a bit more to the weight I carry on these hikes. Well worth it though.

I grabbed my walking poles without which, nowadays I would not do so well on the hikes and made my way towards Onion Creek. There is a very large expanse of limestone to cover before actually hitting the Creek and it is interesting to see how the water has worn it in different ways over the millions of years of its existence. I stopped to take pictures of the White Egrets including one that was in the shallow waters and was busy chasing something in the water. He put on quite a show. There was also what looked like a Willet doing his thing in another shallow. All this before I hit the river.

As I suspected, the pool was already busy with a lot of kids with their families already set up under the shade or in the water or camped out around the edge of the pool. Also visible were several large turtles although none were actually sunning probably due to the amount of activity going on around them. The kids of course were in the water both to cool down and to have fun. There is a lot for them to explore in the big pool.

DSC_0296The water in the Creek was very low and I had no trouble in crossing to get to the trails on the other side. The first thing I came across was a sign describing the Mill that used to stand on this spot. Remnants of steel rods and cut outs in the rocks are all that are left. I took the Homestead Trail wanting to walk the big loop which I deemed would be enough for one day. The trail was well worn and was shaded most of the way which was just as well as the temperatures were expected to reach 100 degrees later in the afternoon.

I came across the McKinney Homestead which was probably a very imposing structure in its day. It still retains an air of Southern beauty and one wonders what ghosts walk the ruins and what stories they can tell. Interesting that it was built by slaves although I guess I should not be too surprised.

I moved on along the trail until eventually I arrived back at the pool. By now even more families had arrived and there were more of them in the water. I took a couple of pictures and made my way back across the Creek.

Along the way on the trail, I had met several people including one couple that stopped to let me take their picture. There were others including a couple of young female runners using the trail to work out and a Father and Son out for a walk. A couple of bikes passed me as well as it is a multi use trail.

All in all, a very enjoyable hike. I covered 6 miles and by the time I was through around 1:30 pm, it was really warming up. Interestingly enough, even though I could hear them, I never really saw any birds or wildlife enough to take any pictures which is one of the reasons I carry the heavy telescopic lens and camera. There were not very many flowers. I only saw two.

I did hold an interesting conversation with a young man who I believe said his name was Jeng(?) who is a visiting student currently staying in Houston and was in Austin for a couple of days. He was trying to hit as many of the local parks as he could find so I directed him to my favorite Park, McKinney Roughs.

I plan on going back in the next few days to hit the trails that I have not yet hiked now that I can cross the river. This is southern Texas after all and the chances of any amount of rain in the summer that might make the river impassable are extremely remote.

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

Reimers Ranch 5-2-2017


DSC_5295-Pano

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