The Second Walk of the Year


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As I had promised myself a couple of days ago, I was back out on the trail again and back at Reimers Ranch. This time I planned on a longer walk to get in some exercise as well as take pictures. It took me a while to gear up as I hadn’t used any of the camera carrying equipment for a couple of months. I finally sorted it all out but ran into a problem with one of the camera safety straps as the clip on the end was malfunctioning. I had to cobble together a temporary strap promising myself that I would fix the other one as soon as I got back home.

With everything in place, I set off along the Turkey Trail with the usual high hopes of seeing something worthwhile to photograph. Even if I didn’t see anything dramatic like a Deer or a Turkey I always had the good old standby of the trails themselves. The Parks people had been doing a lot of controlled burns on this end of the trail exposing the very nature of the ground itself. It is so rocky in a lot of places that it is no small wonder that the only thing to grow is scraggly grass, cactus and more rocks.

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As I made my way down the trail, I noticed that I was being followed by a young couple with a two fairly large dogs. I am quite sure that if they had walked at their normal speed, they would easily have gone by me but they chose to hang back. I took the River Trail just before the Park ends and cut back along the river towards the Rock Climbing Area. This is a nice and interesting trail to walk now that the Parks people have cleared it. The river is on one side and the rocky bluffs on the other making for a shady walk for most of its length.

I could hear the rock climbers on my left talking and laughing and generally sounding like they were having fun. Not quite my idea of entertainment even if I was a young man. Definitely not now. I passed a few people walking the trail in the opposite direction, most of whom were younger people although there was one older guy with a dog. When I reached the rock climbing area I managed to get a couple of pictures of three of them on the rock face.

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As I continued along, I saw the most river activity that I have seen since walking these trails. First I passed a motor boat that was anchored in the stream and a bit further up, a family of four who were fishing, standing in the water with waders on. I did not see them catch anything while walked by. A little further, I passed a Father with three kids who had some sort of contraptions that they threw into the air. The things made a loud whirring noise and were a bit like a boomerang as they were supposed to come back to the thrower.

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Next and for the first time ever walking these trails, there was activity on the opposite bank from one of the houses that sits on top of the bluff. The family were involved in several different activities from wading in the water to canoeing to just sitting around.

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As I continued along, I passed other people who were just sitting around on the river bed enjoying the beautiful day. Today was the most activity not counting the swimming area, that I have ever seen that many people actually enjoying the river. Of course the day was a Sunday which tends to bring people out. As I walked along, I noticed a square shaped rock on top of the bluffs that looks like it is just balancing in place and just had to take a picture.

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I kept walking and decided to go up the steep exit to the third parking area. This is quite a feat by itself as I have often mentioned before as making one’s way up the stone steps is quite an effort. All that remained was the walk back along the gravel path that spans the entire length of the park on top of the river bluffs. I passed two different Buzzards and what looks like a Sparrow perched in the trees. They all allowed me to walk right past them and made no attempt to fly off even though I was as close as twenty feet from them. Of course, they were up in a tree and they knew I couldn’t fly.

I arrived back at the Parking Lot and my truck and the lot which had been totally full when I pulled in was now beginning to empty. As usual, I had to change out of my sweat soaked clothes before taking a slow drive home stopping at Starbucks along the way to reward myself with  latte. Altogether, I covered almost five miles enjoying every minute of it. It’s great to be  walking again…

The story would not be complete if I didn’t include pictures of the trails that I walked. It is definitely the winter season here in central Texas. Everything is so brown and lifeless. Any patch of green is a welcome relief.

Plus a few panoramic views.
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Written 2/6/2018

First Walk of the Year


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As the weather has warmed up a bit and needing to clear my head out in the fresh Texas air, I decided to go for a short walk at Reimer’s Ranch, a place I have hiked many times before.

I don’t know if it is a mandatory question or not but the guy at the gate asked me if I was over sixty two as Seniors get to walk the Travis County Parks for free. That made me feel good about myself and even better when I proudly declared to be eighty two as he waved me through with a big smile.

I opted to park in the  Lot that ramps down to the beach area which is the second lot as you drive in and headed down onto the lower trail. I chose to walk alongside the Pedernales River which doesn’t have a lot of water in it at this time of the year. It won’t be too long before the Spring rains will have it flowing at a goodly pace. Even so, I didn’t see any river activity and as I was in no particular hurry, took several shots of the trail and the surrounding rocks. I ran into a guy and we chatted for a bit. He dragged out his cell phone to show me a picture, of which he was particularly proud of a giant Centipede or maybe it was a Millipede as I don’t know the difference. Anyway it was big and was at least six inches long. We moved on and there was nothing major that caught my eye but I was still glad to be out and about. Needless to say, I didn’t see the Osprey or even any Buzzards. No idea where the Buzzards were hiding as usually there are bunches of them swooping and gliding in the sky above.

One thing is very obvious from the pictures is that the Park definitely has on it’s winter coat. Almost everything was brown and the only occasional green spot was  from one of the deciduous trees. or an occasional shrub. I only walked about a mile before turning around to make tracks back to my car. It felt good to be walking again and I promised myself that I need to get out again and soon.

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The pictures above are all Panoramic made up of several different camera shots

Written 2/6/2018

 

Reimer’s Ranch 11-19-2017


I went for another walk at Reimer’s Ranch and although I walked by the river, I did not expect to see the Osprey in action. Nevertheless, I was fully prepared with both cameras at the ready.

The plan was to park in the furthermost Parking Area known as River View No 2 and take the precarious entrance down the rocky stairway and then walk the lower trail in a North Easterly direction to the end of the Park. This time, I was kinda doing the last walk in reverse to the way I normally do it just to get a different perspective. Needless to say, I did not see the Osprey or any other birdlife to talk of or at least, take pictures of. As it was the middle of the week, there were no rock climbers on any of the faces that I passed.

I walked to the end of the Lower Trail where it connected with the Multi Purpose Trail and then turned South and followed it back towards the main Multi Purpose Trail. I passed the area where I had previously seen the deer but again, nothing was stirring. I took several pictures and the Park is already taking on it’s Fall and Winter coat as things change colors and the grasses turn brown. This has it’s own form of beauty as the pictures show.

I came to the intersection of the Multi Purpose Trail that I was on where it connected to the main Multi Purpose Trail that encircles the entire park. I thought about which way to go taking into consideration the distance and my own tiredness as I had no real plan in mind. I decided to head right taking the section of trail that leads past the Trailheads. I came across an area that had recently has a “Controlled Burn” where the Parks people burn off the undergrowth.

As I walked along, a couple on horseback approached me and they stopped when they drew opposite. The lady, who just happened to be the lead rider, stopped to say hello in the thickest British accent that I have heard in a long time. We chatted a bit about the old country and she told me that they lived in Dripping Springs. I took a couple of pictures and we bade farewell as we each went on our respective ways in opposite directions.

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As I continued along the trail, I came across a young lady who had stopped to take a picture. I waited for her to complete her work as I thought she might be taking a picture of a bird and didn’t want to spoil her shot before continuing on until I came level with her. She told me she was taking a picture of the grass which immediately lead into other questions, Grass? Really. Turns out, she described herself as a Farmer which led to more conversations as she told me that she and her husband farm acreage at Pedernales and work on a rotating system of moving the stock every couple of weeks which allows the grass time to recover and regrow. I had read previously about this type of farming so had an idea of what she was talking about. She introduced herself as Carina and I gave her one of my cards. We walked the trail together as she told me all about her farming and the meat they sell at the local Farmers Market. She reached the turnoff to the last exit River View No 2 where she wanted to take the river trail back to her car in River View No 1. I warned her about being very careful climbing down both of these exits before I continued on the Multi Purpose Trail until I reached the River View No 1 and then followed the Top Trail back to my car. The Top Trail is a reconstituted granite path that runs on the top of the Bluff all the way between the first and last parking areas. I passed one other family on the Top Trail who were just heading out and stopped to chat to them for a bit before moving on to my car.

Reamer’s Ranch 11-19-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Altogether, I covered a little over 4 miles of very enjoyable walking with the weather cooling down a little and no crowds. Come to think about it, if you have been reading my previous posts, no young ladies in mini bikini’s either. Oh well…

Written 11/30/2017

Reimer’s Ranch 10-1-2017


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9 picture pano showing the Turkey Trail

Yesterdays walk was so easy comparatively speaking because of the fairly even surface, I felt good enough to go out again two days in a row. Again, contrary to my usual practise of not walking on weekends due to the crowds, I opted to take a walk at Reimers Ranch County Park to see if I could get some good bird pictures. It helps now that it is cooling down and is in the mid 80’s.

I drove to the very last Parking Area, the one that is also the lot for the Rock Climbers as I wanted to walk the Turkey Trail because it has been the most productive regarding bird and animal pictures so far. Going through my usual ritual, I donned all of my equipment and as suitably attired, headed for the trails.

Just as I was starting out, my path crossed with another hiker coming towards me and we exchanged greetings as we passed. I had already decided that I would sit at the bench at the intersection of the Turkey Trail and the Multi Use Trail not because I was tired but in the hope that sitting peacefully might encourage the birds to fly back into my neighborhood. I used my binos as I scanned the surrounding trees but to no avail. I saw one bird fly and perch and then could not find it in the foliage.

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A 5 picture Panorama of Milton Reimer’s Ranch

I gave up on the sitting idea and headed down the Multi Use Trail towards the westerly end of the park taking pictures along the way of the trail. I experimented carrying my poles in one hand and the camera in the other as this was also the location where I saw the deer last time out. This method worked out OK but there were no deer this time around. The trail got rougher and much steeper so the camera had to go back in its carrying harness.

I got to the bottom of the hill and watched a couple of horses come towards me. We exchanged greetings as they passed and they were quickly out of site. Four legs can cover a lot more ground and much faster than my two old ones. I turned off to take the bottom trail to head back to the parking lot. This is a fun trail to walk now that the Parks people have cleaned it up as it follows the river not more than 50 yards away. I passed a couple that asked about the trail and I was able to direct them to the nearest bench for them to eat lunch. They didn’t invite me, darn it…I passed several groups of flowers along the way and took pictures of the trails and rock formation.

I could hear the rock climbers off to my left as they were enjoying themselves with their very hazardous idea of fun. There are several different rock faces along the way and they all seemed to be occupied. Eventually, the lower trail that I was on merged with the upper trail used by the rock climbers as we neared the exit to the last parking lot. I stopped to let several of them pass me as again, they all walk faster than I do. Everybody does…They opted for the fourth exit but I  continued along the trail and headed for the third exit. I wanted to walk the short distance on the top trail just in case I could see anything worth photographing.

Little did I know that that was the best decision I had made for a long time as I continued along, I spotted a large bird flying over the river. At first, I thought it was just another buzzard except it was not using the air currents and floating as the buzzards do. This one seemed to have much more purpose as it flew. I got the binos out to take a closer look and the first thing that I saw was the white head and thought that it might be a Bald Eagle. It did not have the white tail feathers that the Eagles have but there was no mistaking the white head. Then I recognized it as an Osprey which are well known for their feats of diving into the water to catch fish.

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Totally submerged

I quickly got the camera with the long lens ready and went to work snapping pictures as quickly as I could. I watched it as it dove into the water and managed to get a picture of that but when it went in the second time, it was out of my view but I certainly heard the very loud splash. When it came back into view, it was carrying a large fish as it headed back up the river. I thought at first it might have had a nest close by but the nesting season is over.

I walked up the trail keeping an eye on where I thought it had landed and managed to locate it perched in a dead tree. I took a lot of pictures of it very glad that for the very first time, the expensive piece of glass that I had in my camera was going to pay off. I waited around taking the occasional picture but the bird did not seem to be in any hurry to eat the fish. I figured that it was not going fishing anymore today so I walked the trail to the third trailhead and made the difficult climb to the top.

A couple of older ladies wanted to know if they could get to the river from this parking lot and I directed them to where I had just come up warning them that they had to be very careful as it was a bit of a climb even going down. I started walking the gravel path on the very top of the bluff that connects all four of the parking lots heading back to the last one where I had parked my car. On the way, I heard a bird call and stopped and as I did so, a large bird flew off another dead tree very close to the trail. This one too had the white head and I don’t know if it was the same bird or if there are more than one now living in this area.

I arrived back to my parking area and made my way to the car giving yet more advice along the way to another older couple who wanted to get down to the river. I warned them it was not easy but they tried anyway. As I was sitting in my car, they drove off obviously not willing to make the climb down which is pretty difficult.

This has to be my most successful trip yet as far as taking pictures of wildlife, in this case, the Osprey. Obviously, this will not be my last in the never ending search for that perfect picture now that I know where to look. Funny that all of the times I have hiked at Reimer’s Ranch, and even though I have looked, I have not seen an Osprey before. Maybe it is a product of this Springs hatch.

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I took this picture of these flowers using the telephoto lens from way across the river.

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I drove back home very content with the hike. Altogether, I covered 5.8 miles not all on the trail as I also walked around the Supermarket on the way back.

Written 10/3/2017

The Wildflowers at Reimers Ranch 5-2-2017


Spring, the most wonderful time of the year when Mother Nature decorates the land with her beautiful paintings as she wields her brush. Enjoy the video taken of the flowers at Milton Reimers Ranch in Travis County.

Reimers Ranch Flowers 5-2-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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.

Reimers Ranch 6-24-2016


DSC_3147For a change, I decided to take a walk at Reimers Ranch where I hadn’t been in a while. I thought that maybe I would take one of the two long hikes but when I arrived, changed my mind. Instead, I pulled into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot and went through my usual pre-hike rituals  of changing boots etc. I set off on the trail that would lead me to Johnny’s Homestead and from there, headed North down the Multi-Use Trail.

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A few hundred yards down the trail, I came to the signs for the Kelly Prehn Trails which I knew branched off towards the river where  I could get some good pictures. This trail splits into two separate trails, the Kelly Prehn Overlook and the Pogue Canyon Overlook.

I walked them both and managed to get some good pictures of both Overlooks. The views from above are not the greatest and it is a long way down to the water. The Spruce trees however, are in fine form and show very well on the pictures. It is a pity that this trail is not connected to the last overlook on the Main Trail as it would be a fabulous walk as it followed the river.

Continuing, North along the Multi Use Trail, I came to another fork in the road with one trail leading to Turkey Loop and the other remaining the Multi-Use Trail. I opted to take the Turkey Loop in the hopes that I might get lucky and spot a Turkey or two. No such luck but I did get a picture of a sparrow which actually is more than I can usually get with any bird other than a Buzzard.

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I completed the loop and was back on the Main trail which from there was a straightforward walk back to the parking lot. I found a few flowers along the way and took pictures of them.

I arrived back in the parking lot with still a few cars in it. A couple of horses and riders passed me just as I made the turn and they were the first I had seen in a while at Reimers Ranch. Altogether, I covered around 5 miles of very easy walking underfoot. The trails are wide and flat with very little loose rock. My timing was good as the thunder clouds were rolling in as you can see from the pictures below and I drove home through the rain.

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