McKinney Falls State Park 9-30-2017

Jeff Price-12

A view of the trail

With the recent rains, I knew the trails would be muddy in places and I wanted to walk on something more solid. I opted to walk the Hike and Bike trail at McKinney Falls as it is a 3 mile circular trail that is very nicely blacktopped and made for easy walking. It has one very steep place where there is a sign that bicyclists should get off and walk although I am sure that most  of them view this as a challenge more than a warning. It would get a little hairy if any hikers happened to be on the trail at this exact point as there is a blind corner that you can’t see around until too late…Come to think about it, I have yet to see a biker anywhere in this park probably that except for this one spot, the trail offers no real challenge to them.

Picnic area at the Upper Falls

A five picture panorama of the picnic area

I broke all of my rules today as normally, I very rarely get out to the Parks because of the numbers of people that use them on the weekends. It’s not that I am anti-people but I like to hike for the solitude amongst other things and that can be difficult with crowds of noisy families each with at least a dozen kids per family all talking and running at the same time. Mckinney Falls also has swimming facilities which is another attraction for these families and large groups of people.

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Another 5 picture panorama from the reverse direction

I parked in the lot by the Upper Falls and geared up in my usual fashion. I’m sure that I make quite a comical sight with my two cameras and binos strapped to my chest, my camera bag with a couple of other lenses on my back, my two walking poles in my hands and topped off by my wide brimmed hat complete with added kerchief around my forehead to soak up the sweat. Oh yes, add two water bottles to that strapped to my waist. I probably am carrying at least 20 pounds of gear, great for my muscles and cardio but awful tiring.

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A panoramic view of the Upper Falls

I walked past the Upper Falls and the throngs of people into the park area that is set up with picnic tables and firepits and is very nicely maintained. Onion Creek runs off to my right and I wandered over to take a look. The water was a muddy brown color from the recent rains and not very appealing so I got back onto the trail proper and started to walk. I took several shots of the park area and of a couple of the very large trees on the trail and have turned them into panoramic shots. I met several people on the trail and conversely, several passed me going in the same direction. None were families with kids as they preferred to be at the Falls area. Although I heard birds, I didn’t see any to take any pictures of. I passed an interestingly shaped tree and took a couple of pictures of it besides various flowers. The pictures below also include views of the trails.

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This tree is made up of 5 different pictures in order show the whole thing. I wonder how old it is?


Arriving back at the Falls, I chatted to a few people and took several pictures.  There was a photographic class going on the park area which broke up as I was taking pictures of the Falls.  Not sure what the subject matter of the course was about.

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There are 8 pictures in this pano

Altogether with my additional wandering around, I covered a little over 4 miles. I noticed that my old body and legs were nowhere near as tired as when I walk the regular trails. Must be that this much flatter blacktop trail is much easier to walk and for that I was extremely grateful.

Written 10/3/2017


Reamers Ranch 10-29-2017


I went for another walk at Reamers Ranch this time to get in a good walk and to take a few pictures along the way. I still have hopes of seeing the Osprey again but am no longer just concentrating on it’s location although to be truthful, my walking plan did include the area I had seen the Osprey before. I planned to walk along the Multi Use Trail towards the North end of the Park and to go all the way along Confluence Trail until the trail ends at the boundary of the Park Property. I have walked this several times previously and always have the hope that I might see deer or a turkey as I have before although much too slow with the camera to get the pictures. Along the way, I found some flowers that were absolutely covered with bees and butterflies.

I tried something new by only using one walking stick so that I could carry the camera in the other hand, just in case. Even though I was ready this time, the animals and birds obviously did not get the message as none appeared to have their picture taken on the first part of the walk to the end of the trail.

I cut back through the lower trail which the Parks people have spent some time on and now it is much better walking as you can see from the pictures above and followed right alongside of the Pedernales River with a good view of the water and the opposite bank which is all private property. Some of it is well maintained as the Panorama below shows. I kept my eyes open in the hopes of catching a view of the Osprey but all I saw were buzzards.

I continued along until I came to the area popular with the rock climbers and took some pictures of them on the wall. Better them than me as it is not my idea of fun.

I carried on walking along the Lower Trail until I reached the exit to get back to the third parking lot. This too is a difficult climb to get out. I met a young lady who was coming down and we chatted for a bit about the trails.

When I got to the top, I headed north along the gravel walkway towards the last parking lot known as North Bank. Along the way, I met a young gentleman and we exchanged pleasantries as we crossed paths. I noticed three buzzards in the tree in front of me and at first, couldn’t make out what they were up to. Then I figured that they were a female and two males and were going through a mating ritual of a sort I guess for the female to make a choice. I managed to quickly change settings to video and got this very short one. I would have thought that it was too late in the season for mating but maybe these are younger birds finding their first mate. I stood and watched them for a bit until they flew off. You never know what interesting picture is around the next bend.


I arrived back to my car tired and happy and changed into some dry clothes and sat for a while eating an apple.  It is so quiet and peaceful there and it is very easy to slip into a state of reverie and just letting the world pass on by. Altogether, I covered 6.5 miles, not bad for a day’s stroll in the park with the added bonus of a lot of pictures.


Written 11-10-2017

Still Looking for the Osprey – 10-21-2017


I think that from here on out, every time I take a hike at Reamers Ranch County Park, I will be looking for the Osprey that I was so fortunate to see just a couple of weeks ago. This was true of my last hike on Saturday, October 21st when I broke another one of my unwritten rules and went hiking on a Saturday. As it is late in the season, most of the people were families and kids at the swimming end of the park in the Pedernales River.

I parked in the second parking area that has a long concrete road that leads down to the river that can be used to get small boats into the water. There is no parking at the river itself  so those that drive down have to then bring the vehicles back to the lot and walk back down the hill and do it all again to get the boats back. Maybe that accounts for the reason that I don’t think I have ever seen a canoe or kayak or any type of boat on the river from the park side. The lucky landowners on the far side of the river have canoes and kayaks parked close by the water (but above the flood line) and again, I have still yet to see any of those boats actually in the water. DSC_1245-Pano

But I digress. I readied myself to go walking which takes me a good 15 minutes as I change my socks and boots, strap on my waist camera belt for the long lense camera and also the bino’s, put on the Cotton Carrier harness for my second camera and finally, slip on my backpack with essential supplies like tools to tighten the Cotton Carrier locking units, spare camera batteries, flashlight and spare batteries, a small first aid kit and waterproof gear. If I am out for a long hike, I will not only have two water bottles but also fruit for that extra energy when I need it.


I walked down the concrete road towards the river and got on the river trail heading upriver to the area that I had previously seen the Osprey. Being a weekend, there were several other hikers using the trail and we exchanged cordial “hellos” and “great day for a hike” and such comments as we passed each other. I walked on taking pictures of the trails and the views across the river and always on the lookout for the Osprey. As usual, there were lots of buzzards taking full advantage of the wind currents as they wheeled and plunged across the sky with the occasional flap of the wings to find the next spiral of air but none of them were the bird I was looking for. This is where the bino’s come in so handy as I can see the birds up close and personal to tell the difference.


I continued along the river trail for a bit before deciding to do an about turn and make my way back the way I had come. I don’t usually do this but I wanted to walk to the “Beach” area to see the people who were making use of it and maybe get a few pictures. It turns out that there were a couple of families in the water enjoying themselves with the kids making lots of noise as they splashed around. I did not turn the bend to see the rest of the beach area content with the view that I had.


I made my way back up the concrete road to the Parking Lot passing more people on their way down. The lot had filled up quite considerably from when I arrived and was a mix of people on their way down to the river and those that had just came back from it. Families with young kids were mixed with adults of all ages several of whom were beautiful young ladies in bikinis who again, just like the previous time that I wrote about were so full of confidence and seemed totally unconcerned for their almost nakedness in front of a lot of people. With the few sneak peeks that I got in, I could understand their confidence as to how beautiful they looked but at the same time, the prude in me worried about how this behaviour is now the accepted norm. Not for me to worry much about as I should be grateful that these young women provided me a recollection of how life used to be many years ago when the female body was not a stranger. The passing of the years may play havoc with the body and desires but luckily the eyesight is still good.

I jumped into my car after taking off all of my gear and changing my clothes. I always end up totally soaked after any of these exertions and always carry a spare change of clothes knowing that I most certainly will need them. I made the drive back and detoured into Dripping Springs just to stop at Starbucks to enjoy on the way home.

The question arises, “Do the beautiful girls make up for not seeing the Osprey” and the answer is “Unfortunately, no”. Damn it, I must be getting old…


Ran into this fine looking fellow and he stood still long enough to take his picture.

Written 10/27/2017

Circle C 9-15-2017


With the Circle C trails being as close to me as they are and now that I have discovered the full extent of them, I took another hike basically in the same area as the last one only covering them much more extensively. I still wanted to see if in fact, the second portion of the Violet Crown Trail was open yet as according to the maps, the Circle C trails will connect to it. The printed Circle C maps are not very good and do not show the full extent of the many bike trails that intersect the area so essentially, I was hiking in the dark and having to rely on my sense of direction which has been known to let me down before, once at Pedernales State Park when I took a wrong turn and got back to my car at 9.00 o’clock at night and covered 18 miles in the process.

The trails at Circle C.

Of course, I had a general idea of where I was trying to go and thought that if I kept going in a SouthEast direction, I just might get lucky and hit the Veloway. Well, it wasn’t long before that idea went out of the window as the bike trails wandered and meandered in every direction sometimes turning back onto themselves as the the bikers sought to get as much distance in as short an area as possible. I had a couple of them pass me flying along at a great rate of speed which made my walking speed look very slow indeed. There were also a couple of other walkers who passed me one of whom stopped to chat for a bit. He didn’t have any information regarding the Violet Crown Trail but he did sort of point me in the right direction by telling me that the road above us was Escarpment Boulevard.

I wandered around a bit more and then headed back crossing under Escarpment Boulevard and taking the main trail that leads around the park and the soccer fields.  Several people passed me on this trail which has a great display of the wild flowers that are in bloom. From there, I followed the dried up creek all the way back crossing under Escarpment Boulevard and walking west towards Mopac (Loop 1). I was surprised just how far it is between the two highways on foot as it takes no  time at all in a car…


Some of the many beautiful flowers along the way.

I eventually made it back to my car in the cinema parking lot which, by now, was very full and sat for a while watching the birds in the trees. That was after changing out of my sweat soaked clothes into something drier. Altogether, I covered around 6.5 miles of pretty easy walking but still have not located the Violet Crown Trail. Maybe next time.


Written 9/18/2017

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.