A Short Drive in February, 2019


Onion Creek

I decided to go to Dripping Springs to the local Tractor Supply to buy more food for the ever hungry Koi and Goldfish. Even though we are in late February, they didn’t stay dormant for very long and I have been feeding them for all of this month. We have only had one frost and it has not been a very severe winter for us. We will make up for it in the Summer when the temperature will reach 100 degrees or more for days on end.

While feeding the fish this morning, I noticed that the Urn that sits in the middle of the 5000 gallon pond and has done ever since the pond was built 27 years ago, had stopped working. I suspected that the feeder hose had sprung a leak as prior to its stopping, it was bubbling out very slow. I will have to get in the pond to repair this but will wait a bit for the water to warm up.

After purchasing the bag of fish food and spending time wandering around the store looking at things that I wish I needed, I left the store intending to drive home. I decided at the last minute to take one of the side streets to explore the countryside for a bit. Dripping Springs proper as a city is not that big with around 5000 residents but its jurisdiction takes in a lot of the surrounding countryside which is inhabited by farms of all descriptions.

I had no idea where I was going and just kept following the road. It was a beautiful day and not much in the way of traffic but enough to keep me focused. I was listening to an Audiobook which is my most favorite pastime. This time, it was the first book of the Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. The narrator was a lady by the name of Davina Porter and she has the most delightful voice and is exceptionally good at telling a story.

I came across a stream which I thought was probably Onion Creek. It had a lot of water in it which is not surprising for this time of the year with it still technically the Winter Season. The road I was on followed the stream for several miles and I crossed it least on four or five different occasions stopping to take pictures wherever I could. Interestingly enough, several of the vehicles that passed me when I was parked, also stopped to enquire if everything was OK and did I need help. I quickly explained that I was taking pictures and they drove on. Only in the country does this sort of thing happen where other people are still concerned for your wellbeing.

Towards the end of the drive, I rounded a bend and spotted a Zebra in a yard. It was a bit skittish but I managed to get a decent picture of him. I decide that it was time to head home and turned to my GPS system for directions and discovered that I was miles out of my way and heading in the totally wrong direction. I was, in fact, almost into Wimberley which is 17 miles from Dripping Springs. I followed the GPS directions and had to backtrack for several miles before finding the right road back to Dripping Springs and made the most of it by stopping at the Starbucks located there to satisfy my insatiable thirst for coffee. I finally made it home after spending a very enjoyable couple of hours.

I have made a slide show of the pictures that I took.

Written 2/24/2019

Reimers Ranch 2-3-2019


Six picture pano showing the winter foliage.

I decide to drive over to Reamers Ranch just to take a few pictures and see what the winter foliage looked like. There were a few cars in the parking lots but as it was fairly late in the afternoon, I was not surprised at the small number.

I parked in the second parking lot that has road access to the river and took just my camera with me as I knew that I was not planning on walking very far on any of the trails.

There were a couple of families with kids exploring the river at the swimming area but being winter, no one was in the water. There was another group that were fishing but I didn’t get close enough to them to see if they had caught anything. Further down river was a motor boat with a couple of people on board just drifting in the current. Such was the nature of the day with the temperature in the lower 70’s. Not bad for wintertime in Texas.

Written 2/6/2019

Reimers Ranch 1-6-2019


A multi picture panoramic

The sun was shining and the temperature was almost at 70 degrees which made it a perfect day, weatherwise to take a hike. This, in the middle of a Texas winter. I decided that I would take a walk at Reimers Ranch this time taking the Hogge trails that I have walked several times before. The Hogge trails are the latest addition to the Reimers Ranch Park and is made up of donated land that adjoins the original Park.

I pulled into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot with a couple of other cars already parked and went through my usual preparation. Again, I opted for a single camera with the 18-400 lens which gives me tremendous flexibility in both long range and close up shots, besides being light to carry.

I set off taking the trail that leads to Johnny’s Homestead and almost immediately came across a crow that was busy finishing a meal as it was perched in the tree in front of me. I managed to get a decent shot of it but it is almost a black and white shot with no background to provide any contrast. As it turns out, this was the only bird or animal that I saw close enough to photograph. Moving on, a Park Ranger driving a Kubota All Terrain Vehicle stopped to see if everything was OK. I assured him that everything was fine as I was just getting started. We both went our separate ways as I continued my hike.

Reaching Johnny’s Homestead, I took the Multi Use Trail that veered off heading for Hogge Trails, a hike of well over a mile or so to reach them. This particular trail crosses the stream that at this time of the year is free flowing with plenty of water. I was following fresh horse prints of at least three horses but as it happened, I never met any of them. I had noticed on the way in as I passed the Horse Paddock, there were four trailers with horses and riders in different stages of cooling down their horses after their ride.

The Multi Use Trail that leads to the Hogge trails is a long uphill climb. On the way in, it is not steep but it seems to go on forever and climbing all of the time. Gave me the chance to take some great panoramic shots from the highest point in the Park. I eventually came to the gate that leads into the Hogge Ranch and trails and chose to take the Outer loop which was the longer of the two trails. In actuality, there is one big loop which is dissected by a single trail giving the option of the Inner or Outer Loop. The Park has its winter coat on with most everything brown except for a few Live Oaks and of course, the inevitable Cedars.

Uphill all of the way.

As I trudged along on the way towards the end of the loop, I could hear the Rangers Kubota as it made the loop on the other side and figured that he would eventually catch up to me as I walked back down the hill towards the stream. Sure enough, a few minutes later, he pulled up alongside and enquired if I was OK. I had a choice at that point whether to keep walking or to hitch a ride but as the object was to get some exercise and that I was feeling good, I assured him that I was fine. I thanked him for checking on me. He drove off and I continued on my way.

I reached the stream and after crossing it, I noticed there was a trail that ran parallel to it and I figured that it would dissect with the other main Multi Use Trail that encircles the entire park. I had never walked this trail before so decided to take it. I knew where it would come out which was also close to the Multi Use Shortcut that I wanted to take. Sure enough, things worked out as I had hoped and soon I was walking the Multi Use Shortcut which would link up with the Main Trail and back to the parking lot and my truck.

A view from the far end of the Hogge Trail

I was the only vehicle left in the parking lot when I arrived back. I changed out of my sweat soaked clothes into some dry ones so as to be comfortable on the drive home. I had roughly estimated that I had walked around 6 miles but when I checked my phone and a pedometer that I always carry, one said 9.2 miles and the other 9.5. No wonder I was tired. A good way to start the New Year. So, a long drive home with a stop at Starbucks in Dripping Springs as a reward on the way. A perfect end to a perfect day made even nicer in knowing that I could jump into my hot tub to ease the aching muscles.

On the way out of the Park, I was able to capture a glorious sunset.

Nature’s Beauty
A video of the walk.
This is of several panoramic shots

Written 1/10/2019

Bastrop State Park 12-25-2018


A Panoramic view from the trail

With no special plans for Christmas Day, I decided that I would take a walk at Bastrop State Park, the scene of a horrific wildfire that started September 14, 2011 and was finally controlled on October 10, 2011. Almost 35,000 acres were burned which included a large amount of the Bastrop State Park and the Piney Woods. Today, seven years later, the State Park is slowly coming back to life as Nature readjusts following the blaze. With the help of many volunteers, thousands of Loblolly Pines have been replanted to replace those lost in the fire and are growing very nicely. Many are already well over ten to fifteen feet tall bringing much needed greenery to the burned areas.

Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife.

This was the first time that I have gone to this park with the intentions of taking a walk. As it was Christmas Day, the Park Office was closed but they have a handy self payment service along with a plentiful supply of maps that mark the trails.

The newly Planted Loblolly Pines

I pulled over on the side of the road to study the map when a young female Park Ranger pulled up alongside of me. Wth her help, I was able to decide which trails I wanted to hike and set off along Park Road 1A to the middle parking lot. All of the trails are designated a color and I was planning on hiking the Post Oak Spur (Gray Trail) then taking the Scenic Overlook (Red Trail). I successfully made it to what I thought I was the scenic overlook but instead, there were a bunch of cabins.

Along the way, I ran into a couple of older people who were out for a stroll. I stopped to chat with them and they introduced themselves as Patricia and Hector and they were from Corpus Christi and up for the weekend. We chatted for a bit before I pushed on.

Hector and Patricia

I backtracked and then turned off on another Red Trail and finally ended up at the top of the hill. This was quite obviously not the Scenic Overlook so somewhere, I had taken a wrong turn. Not to be deterred, I set off back down Park Road 1A or at least what I thought was this road. After travelling about a half mile with a view of the road in front of me, I was getting concerned that I was going in the wrong direction. Rounding the next bend, Park Road 1A was blocked off as the road had completely washed out on the other side of the barricades.

The washed out road.

It also changed into Park Road 1C at this point. Being the stubborn old fool that I am, I climbed down the bank and crossed the stream at the bottom and continued for a bit walking on Park Road 1A enjoying the walk even though it was quite obvious by now that I was totally lost. At that point, I came to the conclusion that I was heading in the wrong direction and there was nothing else for it but to retrace my steps. So, I turned around and headed back climbing back down into the gully to get up to the road on the other side and headed back to the top of the hill where I had originally come out. It was all good exercise and easy walking except for the uphill parts.

There was nothing else but to retrace my steps and backtrack along the trails that I had taken to arrive at this point so without further ado, I started to walk back down the Red Trail. I ran into a young couple with a young daughter and they asked me for directions. I jokingly told them they were asking the wrong person as I was just as confused as they were. They continued on as did I in opposite directions and then the trail I was on turned into something else so I had to backtrack once again. We crossed paths again and they were able to direct me to the Grey Trail which they had just found.

Another pano

Continuing on, I met another young couple with a dog and we exchanged hello’s as we passed. After what seemed like walking forever, I came back out onto Park Road 1A opposite my truck which was a sight for sore eyes and a tired body. Altogether, I covered six and a half miles with probably at least a couple of miles being lost. The walking was easy and the trails were great. After a while, even though I was surrounded by the remnants of the forest fires with the gaunt spectres of burnt trees pointing up to the sky, it became the norm. The newly planted Loblolly Pines were a beautiful green contrast to both the burned trees and Natures own winter colors and it was great to be outside.

Pointing to the sky…

I managed to get a picture of a Chipping Sparrow.

Chipping Sparrow

A black wooly Caterpillar.

Hard to believe that this….

will turn into this.

I couldn’t resist taking this picture as it clearly shows the heart of this tree.

Whereas this one is the future of the forest.

All in all, for me, it was a great way to spend Christmas Day enjoying the gifts of Nature. The video below is made up of the many pictures that I took.

Written 12/27/2018

Reimers Ranch 12-21-2018


A panoramic view

I took another walk at Reimers Ranch just to get out and about in the fresh air and the beautiful sunny weather. Hard to believe that it is winter time with the temperatures hovering around 70 degrees. Even so, Mother Nature, in all of her glory, has on her winter coat at least in my part of Texas. Everything is a drab brown color except for the Evergreen Oaks and of course, the Cedars with the occasional Possumhaw Holly showing its red berries.

Possumhaw Holly

I decided that I would walk the other half of the Multi Use Trail that I didn’t complete on one of my earlier walks on the Northern end of the Park. I parked in the Mountain Bike Parking Lot which had several cars in it. I noticed as I drove past that the Horse Trailer Parking also had several trailers in it so there was some activity and on a Friday to boot. A couple of bikers came in as I was getting ready after having completed their runs chattering away and quite obviously having enjoyed it very much.

Oh, to be young again.

I changed into my hiking boots and decided on just one camera as I set out taking the trail that leads to Johnny’s Homestead which, by the way, is nothing but a standing chimney as the rest of the building disappeared in a fire several years ago. It still serves as a map marker. I passed a young couple going in the opposite direction and we exchanged pleasantries. As I hit the Multi Use Trail, I turned south. This trail is very easy walking and only at the very end, does it get rougher going. I managed to get a picture of a Pine Warbler which for me, is quite an achievement as I don’t see many birds. Probably because I am too noisy as I walk along and also because I don’t have the patience to sit and watch. When I do get to see one, I have to rely on the zoom lens to bring them in close and then hope I can crop the pictures to get them even closer and with color.


Pine Warbler

This end of the Multi Use Trail also brings me close to the stream that marks the boundary on this end of the park. It runs roughly north/south and tends to dry up in the very hot weather. This time of the year, it has a nice steady flow and as with a lot of the streams and waterways around here, has dug itself quite a deep ditch/canyon to flow through. I walked over to the closest spot and took a couple of pictures but was not able to convey the depth of the canyon very well which is about 50 feet at this point.

Stream

The trail eventually veers away from the stream as it makes the turn to bring me back to where I started. The posted markers indicate that the complete loop is 4.7 miles. I am not sure how they measure it as both of my pedometers always show more distance. At this point, the walking gets a little harder as the terrain turns rocky and also with a grade increase both up and down. I met a horse and rider who were just starting out from the Horse Trailer Parking Area and we exchanged pleasantries and joking about her six legs of transport compared to my two. I finally made the turn back up the road and into the Mountain Bike Parking Lot and to my truck. The lot was quite a bit emptier as many of the bikers had already left as had most of the Horse Trailers when I walked by their parking lot.

View from the parking lot.

Altogether, I covered a little over four miles of pleasant and easy walking on a beautiful sunny day in Texas in the winter. The slideshow below is made up of the still pictures that I took.

A collection of photos

Written 12/24/2018

Reimers Ranch 12-13-2018


The far bank

With the weather so great, I just had to get out and take a walk. It was really a spur of the moment decision as I had not really planned on it. So, I grabbed my cameras and filled my water bottle and headed to Reimers Ranch. I had no specific plans for any particular trail and ended up at the River Bend Parking lot. This is the one that leads to both the swimming areas and to the river trails which is where I opted to hike.

The River Trail

I walked along the river trail taking pictures of the wonderful views including the Pedernales River. The walking is easy although there are a couple of places where the trail gets a little tricky like climbing up and over the rocks. The plan was to walk to River View parking No 1. at which point, I would make the difficult climb up and out of the canyon and take the gravel path that runs along the top of the bluff back to my truck.

The climb out
Quite a climb

As usual, exiting the river trails at River Parking No 1 was a challenge. This requires literally climbing up rocks that are placed in the form of a very rudimentary set of stone steps, easy enough for the young and agile but challenging to old people like me. I safely made it out and then started to walk back along the gravel path. This is easy walking although it too has washed out in a few places and needs some maintenance work. I could see the storm clouds off in the distance and wondered if I would beat them back to my truck as I didn’t fancy getting a soaking although I was more concerned for my cameras than for me. As it happened, I beat the rain and made it back with time to spare.

Thunderclouds building
Almost back to my truck before the rain.

I covered a little over four miles and as usual, took a lot of pictures and have put them together in the form of a slideshow set to music. Enjoy.

Written 12/23/2018

McKinney Roughs 12-15-2018


I had the hikers itch and so grabbing all of my gear, I headed to McKinney Roughs just to get back out in the fresh air and spend some time with Nature. The weather was gorgeous with the temperature around 65 degrees and just a few light clouds in the sky, perfect weather for being outdoors. 

I pulled into the parking lot and there were a few other cars, hopefully all making the most of the sunshine and getting their exercise. I went through my usual procedures of boots and gear and decided to take only one camera with me. I must not have been paying much attention as when I got out on the trail, I noticed that I had brought the one with the smaller lens. The two cameras that I have are the Nikon D 7200 and the Nikon D 7500 with the latter a little more advanced with stuff that I haven’t figured out how to use. I wasn’t about to go back as I knew that I could still get good pictures with the 7200. It was equipped with a telescopic 16-300 lens.

All of the trails were open with the exception of the short piece on Road Runner that has been closed for quite a while. I planned on walking down Ridge and then complete the circuit on Bluff Trail Loop and finally ending up on Woodland and home. I met several people out on the trail and stopped to talk to a couple of young men, named Seth and Parker. They were very interested in the lichen growing on the trees and rocks and I never thought to ask them why. They are both holding a twig with lichen on it in the picture.

I met another older gentleman who told me that he was “turned around” and wanted to get on the Coyote Road trail. We were on Bluff Trail Loop at the time and I showed him where he would have to go if he stayed on the trails. His comment was that he was going to “bushwhack” it as he could hear his friends off to one side. I heard them too as without another word, he struck off in a direct line from where the sound was coming from sort of forging his own trail. Luckily for him, he was walking downhill making the going a little easier. “Good Luck” I called out to him as he disappeared among the brush. Hopefully, he made it to where he was going.

I continued on as I had before following the trails and taking a lot of pictures. Most of the greenery is gone with the occasional cedar tree still green and breaking the monotony. The panoramic picture below shows of just how barren everything is looking. It is winter here in my part of central Texas although by comparison to a lot of the USA, hard to tell it.

Winter in Texas

It was quite obvious from the condition of some of the trails that there had been a lot of rain  fallen in the past week or so as the trails were deeply rutted with many footprints. They were at the stage where the footprints from the walkers and had dried in that condition and it was going to take a lot of hikers feet to make the trails level and more comfortable to walk on especially as no horses were allowed on this particular trail.

I made my way back up Woodland heading back to the parking lot and passed an older couple sitting on one of the many benches placed on that trail. This trail leads directly back to the office and is designed for anyone to take a leisurely walk. It is fairly level with no hills to climb.

I arrived back at my truck just as a young lady was saying goodbye to someone who had dropped her off. She told him that she loved him and as we passed, I said “I like what you just said, There is not enough of it in the world today”. She replied that it was her uncle and I thought how sweet it was to belong to a tight knit family such as that. I thought about it as I sat in my truck relaxing after the walk and wished for a moment that I had a different life. Luckily for me, the feeling soon passed as we are talking of a life gone by and we can’t turn back the clock no matter how hard we try.

I headed home stopping at the HEB that I usually stop at and the Starbucks right next door before arriving home. Altogether, I covered a little over five miles including the HEB shopping. It all counts as exercise…

Below is a video of the nine panoramic views of the park.  Both videos are best viewed in full screen.

The video below is a slideshow of the many other pictures that I took. Both videos are best viewed in full screen.

Written 12/17/2018