BACK TO McKINNEY – 8-3-2014
Due to the work attached to the Pond Tour both in preparation of my own ponds and then the write ups and video work for the “Ripples”, I had not had any time to take any walks in the past three months and felt it was time to get back to it. So, at the last-minute, I decided to go hiking today at McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Bastrop.
I hastily collected my camera gear, a bottle of water and some fruit and made the 30 mile trip to Bastrop. I had previously slathered myself in sun tan protection and grabbed the hat with the neck cover and was ready to go.
When I arrived at the Highway 71 trail head,there was only one other car in the parking lot and the two people it belonged to, emerged from the trails as I was getting ready to go leaving me as the only person hiking in from that end of the park. It was around 1:00 pm and I would have to assume that most of the other hikers and horse people had probably arrived early when it was much cooler. As it was,the temperature was in the low 90’s, not bad for a summer’s day in Texas.
I chose to hike the Whitetail Trail which would eventually merge with Bobcat Trail and finally back home via the Pine Ridge Trail. I considered a couple of others but decided that as I hadn’t been hiking in a couple of months and considering how hot it was, decided that taking the shorter trails made more sense. As it was, the trails I chose covered about five miles and my trusty pedometer said I had burned 480 calories as an added bonus.
The trails were very dry and dusty as we haven’t had any rain in a while. This made for a lot of deep sand in much of the trail making it even tougher to walk. Loose sand is difficult stuff to walk on as it is hard to get traction and can be very tiring. One thing about hiking alone in my case is that allows me to take a lot of pictures as I can choose my own pace. Another odd thing that I have noticed at McKinney is the absence of birds. Although I heard them, I only saw a couple on the whole walk, one flew off a small pond that I came across and looked like a Green Heron. The other was a Chickadee. Maybe I frighten them off before I get to them but it is strange there are not more.
I have learned from experience in hiking country trails to always keep an eye on the trail in front of me just in case there may be a snake or two
catching a few rays. I would normally expect that I would be making enough noise for them to hear me coming but just in case, I am always keeping my eyes open. Today, I didn’t see any. It’s not that I am afraid of them but I don’t like those sort of surprises.
When I used to breed parakeets, many years ago, I went into the bird room one day and tried to close the inner wire door as I normally did just by pushing it shut behind me. When it wouldn’t close, I turned around to see what was wrong and discovered I was eyeball to eyeball with a big old snake that was draped over the top of the door. I must have screamed in surprise as my wife of the time, heard me from inside the house and came running out. By then I had recovered enough that between us, we shooed it off the door and back into the woods where it belonged. It was at least six feet long and was a big old tree snake. Harmless, but very frightening when you are eyeballing each other. I like snakes to be on the ground.
I diverse, back to the walk. It took me a couple of hours to complete the trip. The last part of the trail heading down from the Ridge is by a series of man-made wood and dirt steps. It was a little
tricky and I had to be careful so as not to go ass over tip and end up falling down the slope but I safely completed the walk down. The steps are in need of some work as a lot of the soil has washed out. At the bottom, the trail levels and follows a dried up-stream that had water in it the last time I was there. Finally, another climb only this time, going up. Again, I had to manoeuvre more of the same sort of staircase made of wood and dirt. It was pretty steep and quite tiring but I managed it without incident. The final stretch is on fairly level ground giving me time to recover from the climb and walk the final half mile back to my car.
I was totally soaked from my exertions and had foreseen this and brought a change of clothes. Changing was not a problem as I was still the only car in the parking lot. As I was finishing packing my cameras, another truck towing a horse
trailer pulled in and two people got out. They unloaded two horses that were already saddled up and ready to go. On my way out, I waved to them and being the friendly Texans that they probably were, they waved back. I knew they had to be Texans as they both wore cowboy hats and the lady had on boots. Probably the guy did too but I couldn’t tell. Just kidding.
All in all, I really enjoyed the hike and it’s time to get back into the walking routine, Texas heat and all.
For a link to the slideshow: