Buescher State Park after the latest fire – 11-8-2015. Note: The slide shows may be slow in loading.

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I wanted to go for a walk and couldn’t decide where to go. I sat at the table thinking about this place and that place and in my minds eye, could visualize the different trails having been to them so many times before. I have just bought a new camera lens, a Tamron 16-300 that can take both close ups and long distance, I really needed to try it out before sending in the warranty.

The problem I have is knowing already that photo opportunities are few and far between at the many Parks I have already visited without re-taking the same pictures over and over. It is also hard to write a piece for the blog without repeating myself. There are very few wild flowers in bloom right now and much of the scenery is drab and unexciting with the advent of Fall. Not like up North with the pretty maple trees that are putting on a display. Scrub cedar and live oaks tend not to color up as they drop their leaves.

I opted to go to McKinney Roughs which is one of my favorite places to walk and drove towards Bastrop to the East Trailhead. When I arrived, the gates were locked and a sign said that the Trails were closed to Hikers and Horseback riders for repair. Not to be outdone, I continued on towards Smithville where the Buescher State Park is located. I didn’t expect those trails to be open due to the massive fire they had at the end of last month that burned something like 4600 acres but I thought that I might be able to drive Park Road 1C, the road between the Bastrop State Park and Buescher, and get a look at the extent of the damage.

I knew from previous visits that there are plenty of photo opportunities to try out the long distance of the new lens as I drove up Park Road 1C and headed towards the first trail head. It is about 12 miles between the two parks and normally a very pleasant drive. There was no sign of fire until I reached the trail head which is pretty elevated with a great view of the valley below filled with farm houses and sheds, pastures of green grass, grazing cattle and bales of hay. I took a few shots of this panoramic view and then turned my attention to the burnt areas which had come all the way up the hill and had, in some places, burnt the fence surrounding the parking area. Behind me, everything was still green so at this point the fire had not jumped the road.

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I drove up the road stopping wherever I thought might be a good picture and it wasn’t far before I could see that both sides of the road were burned. It was obvious to see where all of the underbrush has been burned out leaving the taller trees still standing. Whether or not they have survived is another story and we will have to wait until the Spring to find that out.

As I drove up the road, in between the trees, I could see remnants of houses with nothing left but piles of twisted metal roofing. It was a sad sight to witness as many people had lost everything they had. I tried to imagine what that must be like and could really not get my head around it. All of the insurance in the world cannot replace a lifetime of memories.

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Continuing on, I noticed that the new fire had burned up to the old fire of a couple of years ago, which only increased the area of desolation. It was interesting to compare the two fires as even in a couple of years, the undergrowth was starting to emerge and the many newly planted Lob-lolly Pines were coming along real strong. If it wasn’t for the burned and still standing trees, it would be hard for anyone to say there had been a recent fire in the old section. Nature is pretty amazing that given the time, she can regrow herself and although it may not be the same as before, it will create its own beauty.

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Towards the end of the road and now in the Bastrop State Park, I came across a stream that still had quite a bit of water flowing through it and just had to take some more pictures of something green as opposed to all of the desolation. A couple of young does crossed in front of me as they scampered across the road. Couldn’t get the camera up in time to take a picture.

All in all, a pleasant way to spend the afternoon although it would have been much nicer if my subject matter had not been quite so depressing.

Oh, yes, I will keep the lens. It works just fine,

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