I just had to get out after several days of inactivity and decided that I would take a walk at McKinney Roughs. Of all of the local Parks, this one is way up there as one of my favorite places to take a hike. I think a lot of it is because of the tall trees which are much more abundant on the East side of Austin than in the Hill Country which is subject to Junipers. Tall trees mean lots of shade and the lack of the Junipers was a blessing for my allergies which are really giving me a hard time this year.
I pulled into the Pope Bend Trailhead and just as I expected for a weekday, was the only car in the lot although the parking area had many very visible signs of recent horse activity. Lots of dropping and a very pungent smell of horse manure.
I went through my usual routine preparing for the walk and after consulting the map, chose to walk Buckeye and then branch off onto Pecan Bottom. I wanted to stay on the lower trails close to the river and I knew that I could do that by taking this route.
The difference in the scenery was very apparent from my first step on the trail. Everything was a lush green color with new growth in abundance far different from my hikes in January along these same trails. Indeed, the difference was so extreme that it was hard to recognize the trails as the same ones that I walked back then.
I had not walked more than 100 yards when I came across first a Road Runner and then a small red fox darted across the trail. Neither time was I ready and never had a chance for any shots. The birds were singing like crazy and it was such a glorious feeling to be out with Nature. Try as I might, I could never see the birds unless they were flying. They do a very good job of blending in with the scenery. I had not gone too far along when I came across the first snake of the year, this one was around 4 feet long and all black. It quickly hustled off the trail into the long grass. I could only get a glimpse of its head but it looks very much like a Texas Indigo Snake and is non poisonous. Further along the trail, I saw a rabbit bouncing off into the woods not more than 20 feet away. Again, I was too slow with the camera.
I walked on and then took Pecan Bottom which would bring me past the very large Pecan Tree that has been dated at 215 years old. It is a huge tree and my pictures do not do it justice. Further along the trail is another of these Pecan Trees that is probably just about as old as the first one.
From there, I branched off along Deep Sandy where a much younger couple passed me both out enjoying the beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery. Further along the trail, we passed again this time with them heading back along the way they had come. It’s pretty sad that although they were not walking anymore than their natural speed and neither was much taller than me, they very quickly left me in their wake and were quickly out of site. Just goes to show that although I am walking as fast as I can, I no longer have any speed with it. Distance yes, speed no!
Deep Sandy follows the Colorado River for most of its length. The river showed signs of the recent rains by both flowing a lot of water and the color of the water itself which was a very dark muddy brown. Not a bit like the pristine clear waters that usually flows this part of the river.
By now, I was on Coyote Road and the start of the climb back up the hill. The trails are not difficult but there were signs of the recent rains with the muddy trails and the horse traffic had cut up the trail just a little in some places. This would quickly dry out and future horses would beat everything back down. From Coyote I took Roadrunner back towards the Trailhead and my car. Roadrunner was a constant upward climb but not difficult walking. Along the way, I took the branch off to the Overlook at Meditation Point which gave me a grand view of the river and surrounding countryside. It was high enough that the Buzzards of which there were several floating on the wind currents, were on eye level and below in the valley.
I sat awhile enjoying the view and the solitude and marvelled at the miracles that Nature performs routinely every Spring without fail. She waves her magic wand and everything is green again. The bright new green of freshness.
I rejoined the trail and walked back to the Trailhead taking a few more pictures as I walked. My camera had been busy throughout the walk as not only were the trails looking so clean and fresh, there were also many different kinds of flowers showing off their pretty heads along the way. As I approached the Trailhead, a Roadrunner showed up and very obligingly stayed on the trail long enough for me to take its picture. Whether this was the same one as on the way out, I will never know but it was at the same spot as the first one.
I was still the only car in the lot when I got back and I sat a while before heading into Bastrop and Starbucks. Altogether, I covered exactly 5 miles on this hike and although the walking was a bit tough in some places, felt good just to be out. Looking forward to the next hike.
McKinney in the Spring 4-15-2016 (Enhanced) from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.