Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was wandering around my garden and ponds with a camera at the ready to take pictures of a couple of flowers that I had spotted. This is December after all and not too may flowers are brave enough to put on any display. I stopped by a Knockout rose bush that I had first planted over 30 years ago before the ponds were ever built. I actually located the pond around this rose bush when I built it. It had a few sorry looking flowers but then again, the roses on this bush are never very great anyway.
Moving along, I came across several Fall Asters that still had a healthy bloom and host the few butterflies that remain.
At another spot, I found a Gregg’s Mistflower that held a bloom or two
Finally, and much to my surprise, I discovered my friendly Brown Snake that has spent all of the year with us. I must say that he looks pretty healthy so I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he hadn’t found a goldfish or two for dinner. This one is between 3-4 ft long. Interestingly enough, Mikey, the Dachshund/Chihuahua mix who was a couple of feet away, never spotted the snake and as the pictures show, it was well out in the open. Not sure if that is a good or bad thing. This snake is non poisonous but at the same time, I don’t want the dogs tangling with any of the snakes just in case another Rattler shows up as happened with Richie last year. Besides, I try not to harm the snakes in any way as they are all a part of Nature’s Plan. He was gone five minutes later when I went to check. I would have thought that the snakes was already denned up for the winter but maybe it is not cold enough yet. BTW, I use a telescopic lens so I am not that close to the snake even though it may appear so.
I completed the circuit of the garden but there was nothing else of interest to warrant taking anymore pictures so I will close with another Knockout Rose.
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.
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.
I happened to have my camera with me so I decided to take a short walk at the Circle C soccer fields. There is a small stream that flows in the park known as Slaughter Creek and it has substantial water in it at this time of the year. Not so much in the summer time when a lot of these streams tend to dry out.
I figured that I might be able to get some decent pictures of the stream so I parked my truck and wandered over to the closest point which happened to be right by the entrance to the Park and started clicking away. I noticed an odd looking tree that appeared to be half dead but a lot of that is the time of the year as all of the leaves had already dropped. This tree has a series of raised growths on it giving it this very odd appearance. I have no idea what caused this dis-figuration unless it was a climbing vine that managed to get incorporated into the trees bark but it makes for an interesting picture.
I discovered there was a well trodden footpath that followed the stream so I decided to take it. I have walked this Park many times but this was the first time I have walked this particular trail. I knew that if I continued in the direction I was going, I would eventually run into Escarpment Blvd and from there, I could veer left and eventually connect up to the Main trail. This trail is very wide as the pictures show. There is also Frisbee Golf course that sort of runs parallel to both Slaughter Creek and the Main trail with the two intermingling as they crisscross the park.
This is a very popular Park for the local residents and is well used. The Soccer Fields are populated with kids training in the evenings and playing their matches on the weekends. All in all, a nice place for a short walk and with a Starbucks just across the street, who could go wrong. Altogether, I covered a little over 2 miles.
I need just one more blog to fill out the rest of the year I try to blog twice a week so as not to appear too boring for those that have and take the time to read as I scribble away thoughts from my brain hoping they will heed the words I write are from the heart as twisted as that may be as I have opinions of which all do not agree it matters not what others think as this is my special place where I can write down the words that my thoughts do grace and so dear reader for those of you who have taken the time I thank you from my very heart as I scribble out each line.
Having an overabundance of energy, I decided to take another walk at Pedernales Falls State Park even breaking my unwritten rule about hiking on weekends due to the number of other people that frequent the Parks. Not that I am a snob or anything like that but I prefer it to have the trails to myself whenever possible.
On the way over just as I reached the Park, a message flashed up on the console telling me that I only had enough gas to drive 50 miles. I thought about it as I arrived at the Park Office and decided that I should head back into Dripping Springs and fill up just in case the truck ran out of gas before making it back home and I did not want to wait around for AAA to come and help me in the dark. Besides, I knew I would be worrying about it and would not enjoy the walk. It took about 30 minutes to Dripping Springs and back this time with a full tank and an easy mind. By the time I reached the Valero station, the message was telling me I had 20 miles left. I wonder how accurate these things are or whether it fudges a bit and really there is 50 or more miles left in the tank. I sure did not want to find out.
I stopped back at the Park Office and paid the $2:00 entry fee and made my way to where I had already decided that I would start, at the Bird Blind Parking Area. Instead of taking the Duckpond trail as I had a couple of days before, I was planning on taking the Horse trail on about a 4 mile loop. Of course, the horse trail is much longer than that and is one of several in this Park. The horse part of the trail I was on is around 12 miles, much more than I was ready to hike although I did hike 18 miles, some of it in the dark at this same Park a couple of years ago when I managed to get lost.
I parked in the Horse Corral area along with several other horse trailers. These riders had already completed their rides and had loaded their horses and were sitting around enjoying a light lunch and having all kinds of fun judging by their laughter. Ah, the beauty of great times and good companionship. I went through my usual routine of preparing for a hike before setting off following the horse trail. I met one lone horse and rider who did not want me to take her picture as her horse was a bit skittish and acting up. She asked me to talk to the horse to reassure it that I was no threat which of course, I obliged. Amazing isn’t it that this bloody great big animal that towered over me needed me to talk to it to calm it down. I used to ride a lot many years ago and had my own animals but I cannot remember them being as big as they seem to be nowadays.
We both moved on and the rest of the walk was uneventful. I eventually came out on the West side fence line of the Park, on the other end of the Duck Pond walk of a couple of days ago. I made my way following the fence line this time going in the opposite direction until I came to the turn off to the Horse Corral. Just before reaching it, another couple of horse and riders came up behind me and we exchanged greeting as we passed. They were quickly out of sight as everybody and everything walks faster than I do.
On the way back in, I was lucky enough to spot a Cardinal among the shredded Cedar on the ground. It was a case of point and hope as he was never very visible at any time. I got lucky.
I ended back at the truck and sat around for a while just enjoying the beautiful weather. The last two riders who had passed me were in the big field area just trotting and cantering their horses around and did not seem to be in any hurry to call it quits. I wanted to stop at the Bird Blind so that I could get a couple of pictures of the sign and of the snake warning for my earlier blog. All in all, I covered about four and a half miles of very enjoyable walking and taking some great pictures. With the exception of the picture below and the Cardinal, all of the stills are Panoramic’s made up of several pictures
The drive home was uneventful now that I had a full tank of gas which is equal to around 725 miles of driving so I am good for a bit. I never normally allow the tank down below 150 miles and you can bet that I won’t in the future. Don’t like or need unnecessary worries. A quick stop at Starbucks in Dripping Springs on the way home and I was good to go…
I had to sit around indoors as the weather had turned to rain too wet to go outside to play on trail or garden both the same I looked around for things to do something that I would not shirk the house needs cleaning and dusting too but somehow that looks like work there is only me and three small dogs whose contribution to the cause is for each to have their special place where they can sleep without a pause to interrupt their daily routines just to clean up their dust doesn’t seem to be the way to go no need for me to make a fuss that solves the problem about cleaning the house but what to do instead I could probably take a nap and creep back into bed the dogs would cuddle up with me just to keep me safe but that would be a waste of time and my mind would chafe as doing nothing is not my way so that idea is gone so maybe I can write a poem a verse or more not long it’s just that I am sitting here with nothing much to show messing around with my PC and things are going slow trying to write a word or two to get them all to rhyme and the going is very hard and taking all of my time but wait just look what I have written words that are in verse and maybe it’s not that good but I have written worse so I will make this do for now and write another day when the brain is working not so hard but in a different way tomorrow the sun many shine and I can take a walk much better than sitting here with a brain that will not talk.
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