A Drive Through Bueschers State Park 7-26-2019


The view from Pine Gulch Trailhead

I decided to go for a drive to Bueschers State Park which is located in Smithville mainly because I haven’t been there in a very long time. What I really wanted was to check out if the trails had been reopened after the fires of September and October of 2011. I could have called but it was much more fun to go see for myself. I had left it too late to actually hike as it was after noontime and the temperatures were climbing in the 90 degree plus areas making it a little too warm to start a hike. For me, I need to start at lower temperatures and as the heat increases, my body adjusts accordingly but I am not very good at starting a hike in the direct heat of 90 degrees or more.

A view from the Scenic Overlook off Park Road 1C

I arrived at the Park only to discover that the office was closed for lunch. I was only planning on driving through to the Bastrop State Park on a connecting road that was named Park Road 1C and was not going to make use of any of the Park Facilities including the trails and I figured I could get by without a sticker.

Original Loblolly Pines

Park Road 1C is a pleasant 12 mile drive that connects the two parks. It actually goes through all of the major burn areas from that previous fire. Everywhere you look are signs of Nature’s recovery from those dreadful fires. Thousands of Loblolly Pines have been replanted, mainly by volunteers to replace those that were lost to the fire assisted by natural reproduction from Nature. They are between 6 and 10 feet tall now and growing strongly and are everywhere which makes it look very good for the future of both Parks.

More Loblolly Pines

I arrived at the Trailhead for the Pine Gulch parking area sharing the space with with a UPS truck with the driver enjoying his lunch break. Great spot for a break although he probably follows the same routine when he is in the area. From the signs, it was obvious that the trails had been reopened and I promised myself that I would take full advantage of them in the very near future.

The view from the Scenic Overlook.

I continued along Park Road 1C taking a few pictures of the beautiful Loblolly Pines that had not been touched by the fire and then arrived at the Scenic Overlook, located in the Bastrop State Park. This is one of the highest point in the Park and has a wonderful view. From there, I headed out of the Park and took Highway 71 back through Bastrop with the inevitable stop at Starbucks along the way. Buescher State Park is on my list of upcoming hikes for the very near future.

Located at the start of Bastrop State Park.

Written 7/27/2019

Nearly a Mistake


Still running strong from all of the rain.

I got up fairly early (for me) and decided that it was time to take a walk as I haven’t been walking in a couple of weeks. By the time that I got out of the house, it was almost 11:30 am but I headed off towards Bastrop having already decided that McKinney Roughs was probably the best place as it had a lot of shelter from the sun.

I had not been following the forecast for the day knowing that it would be hot anyway I looked at it. It was not until I texted my friend BJ asking her if she wanted to accompany me did I realize just how hot it was going to be. She texted back to say that I really shouldn’t walk today as it was going to be almost a hundred degrees and the temperature could easily top the current record high of 97 degrees with Heat index values of 108 to 114. She couldn’t make it anyway which meant walking alone which is probably not advisable with the temperatures going that high.

That did it for me and as by now, I was already almost in Bastrop, I decided instead to drive around for a bit and as usual, listen to one of the stories from Audiobooks. So, I took off turning onto country roads that I had never driven before with a view to different scenery although to be sure, in Texas the scenery does not change very much over a short distance even if it is several miles. I did discover a lot of different areas around Bastrop that I hadn’t seen before before ending back up at my house. Along the way, I filled my truck at the gas station in Bastrop that is always quite a bit cheaper than anywhere else around and of course, a stop at Starbucks for the inevitable Latte.

In all of that, I only found one place that was putting on a show and worthy of parking. I got out of my truck and took a couple of pictures and then started to walk towards the center of the stream but almost fell ass over tea kettle as my feet slipped out from under me on the slippery surface. Luckily, my athletic reflexes came into play and I was able to stay on my feet but I gave up on walking to the center of the stream preferring instead to get back in my truck to take the pictures.

Written 6/9/2019

Thinking of Things to Write


Cypress Creek in Wimberley

I sat here looking at a blank screen
thinking of something clever to write
my head it seemed was in a dream
and no words could I muster with any might
I thought of what had happened that day
and in previous days before this plight
but nothing jumped out at me to say
write about me this seems right
it is not that I haven’t found things do
as I very recently took a hike
out at Bastrop my most favorite place
and have written the words and they will be in plain sight
very shortly in a couple of days
posted to my blog for all to see
for me that hike is a memory
and the words are written as I put them down
I also spent time in Wimberley
taking pictures of this pretty town
nestled in the Hill Country
as picturesque as it can be
with Cypress trees as tall as the sky
reaching up and many centuries old
growing in the tumbling creek
that runs through the town like its very soul
but wait it seems I have something to say
even though it didn’t start this way
but now the mind is suddenly numb
and my thinking voice has gone quite dumb
so maybe my chain of thought is through
and I have nothing left to do
but end this sorry little tale
and try again when my thoughts prevail.

Written 4/25/2019

McKinney Roughs 11-15-2018


I took another walk this time at McKinney Roughs in Bastrop. The weather was nice and balmy at around 65 degrees, just right for walking. When I pulled into the Parking Lot, there were several cars there including a school bus so I assumed that LCRA was holding another of their wildlife sessions. Such is the modern era that kids have to learn about Nature through a classroom instead of just getting out and into the woods to learn for themselves. Times sure have changed…

These are all Panoramic shots that I took. All of the videos view better in a full screen. Use the four outward pointing arrows next to the word Vimeo and Escape to get back to normal size.

I went through my usual routines, changing clothes and this time, putting on my boots, grabbing my camera and gear and finally, paying my $2.00 at the office. I had decide that I was going to walk Yaupon and back as the trail was still out where it connects to Roadrunner and Coyote Road. I set off along Bobcat Ridge until it met with Yaupon to the left and Coyote Road to the right and took the Yaupon trail. I had traveled about a half a mile and the trail was very muddy with standing water in many places. I was having misgivings about this trail when an older lady walking alone came towards me. We exchanged brief greetings and she said that the trail was very wet and was not going to get any better as she had covered it all the way to the Hilton turn off before turning back. She went on her way and after a moments thought, I turned and followed her. She was very soon out of sight and moved pretty quickly for an older person, much quicker than me, which is not saying much as I am definitely not going to break any speed records for walking.

These are the rest of the pictures that I took.

After much consideration, I decided to stay on Bobcat Ridge which I knew was on higher ground all the way. The trail runs real close to the zip line towers and rope climbing areas that LCRA has built as a part of their attraction although I had never before seen anyone using it but I could hear screams and laughter and shouts of encouragement as I approached. I took the trail that leads to this area to see what was going on and there in front of me were probably about 100 or so kids all either climbing ropes or waiting to ride the zip line. They were all screaming at the top of their voices as one of their friends hit the zip line. The girls outnumbered the boys by about 3-1 and they were also the ones making the most noise. Everyone was wearing a  belt type harness that also encircled each leg plus a hard hat. The slideshow below gives you an idea of the different activities that were happening. The video is very brief and was filmed without the use of a tripod hence the very shaky nature of it.

A very shaky video of the kids on the zip line.

I watched the kids for about 15 minutes and then continued on my way wishing that I were young again and had such freedom of spirit plus a lithe and agile body and all of the years ahead of me. Oh well.

I continued along Bobcat Ridge and then continued along Pine Ridge. I knew there was a pond along it as I had watched a pair of herons fly off it on a previous hike. I approached the pond very carefully just in case but there were no herons or any other birds or wildlife that I could see. I headed back and crossed over onto Pine Ridge and finally Riverside and back to the Main Buildings. I passed through the gardens that just a week before were alive with flowers and blooms of many different varieties only to see everything dead and shriveled up with the recent frosts. I am glad that I was able to get so many good pictures the last time. Such are the wonders of nature. On  the way back along Pine Ridge, I passed a full scale film crew who were making some form of documentary.

Showing different pictures of the kids enjoying themselves.

I arrived back at my truck after having covered a little over five miles and changed into dry clothes before making my way back home. As I sat in my truck, two very large tour buses pulled up in front of the Office and at the same time, the kids arrived back from the rope area all running in a single file which was most impressive. There were a few stragglers that dragged in behind the main group as there usually are. In my mind, I wished the kids long and happy lives and the thought that they had all experienced something today.

Written 11/19/2018

McKinney Roughs 10-31-2018


DSC_3632-3-2Following the successful walk at Reimer’s Ranch a couple of days ago and all enthused because of the cooler weather, I hit the trails again this time heading in the opposite direction to my most favorite park, McKinney Roughs. Reimer’s is in Dripping Springs and McKinney Roughs is almost into Bastrop and the two parks are very different. Reimer’s has the Pedernales River flowing though it and the land is much more open. It used to be a working ranch in its earlier days although Mother Nature is doing a very good job of reclaiming the land for her own. Reimer’s is a Travis County Park. Old guys like me, get in for free which is another bonus.

The video above is made up of Panoramic pictures, sometimes as many as six separate pictures all rolled into one.

McKinney Roughs is an LCRA (Lower Colorado River Authority) Park. This park also has it’s own river, the Colorado River which is every bit as big  and sometimes just as frightening at the Pedernales can be. Where Reimer’s is flat and open, McKinney is densely forested and includes some of the famous Bastrop Pine Trees as well as a grand assortment of everything else. The entrance and main buildings are built on the top of a high bluff and then it all slopes down towards the river. When you are walking McKinney, it seems like all of the trails are uphill. LCRA has developed this park to be a location for summer camps and conferences and the buildings are set up as dormitories and meeting rooms. It really is a wonderful and idyllic location to get away from it all. Oh yes, it costs old guys like me just $2:00 to get in. As an added attraction, LCRA has built a Zip Line on the furthest end of the park for those brave souls that need a bigger thrill than just hiking.

McKinney Roughs 10-28-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

I went through my usual process of changing clothes and outfitting myself with my camera bag and camera belts and grabbing my walking poles, headed for the Office to pay my $2:00.  The very pleasant young lady behind the counter informed me that due to recent rains, all of the river trails were closed. I  thanked her for the information and taking a look at the map, chose to walk Bobcat Ridge which is a very pleasant walk. Some of the trails were a bit muddy but nothing I couldn’t handle. Bobcat Ridge ends at Riverside and this is also where the trails were barricaded off. if you can call yellow tape a barricade, to inform hikers that it was off limits to go down to the river. I met a young fellow sitting on the bench that was located at the trails intersection and we struck up a conversation. He said that he was trying to get into better shape which is why he was out there although he was sitting and resting when I spoke with him. We chatted a bit more and then I went on my way heading up Valley View which as the name suggests, does have some very nice views of the opposite valley. I took a few pictures and then headed up Ridge which brought me back from where I started. Around the building and dormitory area, the gardens are very well kept and there was an abundance of flowers just begging to have their pictures taken.

Flowers at McKinney from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

All in all, it was a very pleasant afternoon. The weather was bright and cheerful and it was not too hot. I managed to cover 5.5 miles and the old body creaked a bit towards the end. It is so exhilarating to get out and commune with Nature and well worth all of the aches and pains.

Written 11/6/2018

McKinney Roughs 4/20/2018


DSC_2173-Pano

My friend BJ and I went for a walk at McKinney Roughs. It was such a beautiful day and even though the sun was shining, was not yet very hot and a wonderful day to be outside.

After a brief conversation, we opted to walk Yaupon mainly because it was a change from always taking the trails that lead to the river. Yaupon is an interesting trail due to its many ups and downs with the ups always in the direction you are walking. It is not difficult but in places, where there are a lot of loose pebbles, it can be tricky walking. The trail follows Pope Bend Road for much of its length and we would be welcomed by the occasional dog barking to let us know not to trespass on his territory. As we had no intentions of deviating from the trail, the dogs were perfectly safe.

Towards the end of the trail out, a young lady and her small dog passed us at a pace much faster than we could muster although my partner, BJ walks much faster than I do. For me it is not speed but distance covered. Besides, I am always stopping to take pictures. I took over 100 on this walk.

We almost reached the Pope Bend Trailhead before turning back and heading in the reverse direction. I don’t normally like to back track but in this case, there is no choice as there is still a blocked trail that prevents us from completing the loop by taking Roadrunner and then Coyote Road back to the parking lot. We slowly made our way back only this time, all of the uphills we have walked on our way out had reversed themselves and it appeared that we had to walk uphill all over again.

DSC_2191-Pano

The young lady with the dog finally caught up with us for the second time on her way back. She was still walking much faster than we were. Oh to be young again…We finally arrived back in the Parking Lot and when BJ looked to see what time it was, she was very surprised to see it was almost 6:00 pm. We had started out at 1:30 or so. When I checked my pedometer, it was reading 9 miles although the official distance is around 5 miles out and back. My pedometer is set up at 29 inch steps for me with my short legs and when it counts my steps and then computes the distance covered, its always going to be different. All we both knew was that we were both very tired.

Distance or not, it was still a great walk as this is such a beautiful time of the year with everything so green and all of the Spring flowers out in all of their glory.

I put together a slideshow of the Trails that we walked.

And the Spring Flowers

Enjoy
Written 4/24/2018

Hiking McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018


DSC_1822-Pano

This Pano is made up of 12 vertical pictures

My friend B.J. called to see if I wanted to take a hike. I had been thinking about it and her call quickly made up my mind for me.  I had a Doctors appointment in the morning so we arranged to meet around 12:30 pm or so. She suggested McKinney Falls which has a nice blacktop pathway that circles the park. Easy walking seemed like a good idea. I arrived at McKinney Falls only to find a long line of cars that extended down the main highway. Quick to react, I texted B.J. to tell her to head for McKinney Roughs and that I would be about 25 minutes behind her. Neither of us like crowded trailways and lots of people around. Kinda defeats the purpose.

B.J. was already there when I arrived at McKinney Roughs sitting and enjoying the sun. As usual, it took me a while  to get all of my gear together and this time, I opted for just one camera with the Tamron 16-300 lens which is my goto lens for general photography work. I like it because not only can I get a good distance shot, I can also take close ups, almost macro’s.

We opted to take the trails that are within the center of the park and started off by walking down Ridge until we came to Bluff Trail Loop. As the name suggests, it is a fairly big loop with easy walking trails although a bit steep in a some places. Sometimes, it seemed like a lot of uphills. The completed Loop brought us back onto Ridge from which, we walked Woodland back to the Parking Lot. The entire loop was around 4.4 miles of very pleasant walking and lots of interesting conversation. At the very start of the walk, we passed a Live Oak that had a vine attached to it that had quite literally, grown into the bark that covers the tree as the picture shows.

DSC_1791

Along the way, we met several people who, like us, were enjoying the great outdoors. One lady stopped to talk to us and she had a couple of friendly Texas Cattle Dogs to keep her company. Both were on leashes and they were big enough to help going up the hilly parts of the trail.

When we arrived back in the Office and Garden area, we spent some time looking at the ponds and the new flower plantings that they have just done. One of the Park employees came over and chatted to us about the flowers. He was very interesting and knowledgeable and could even quote the Latin names of the plants. He directed us to one Mountain Laurel bush that had a lot of flowers and mentioned that they had spotted something like 20 different species of butterfly in the past few days but there were not any that I could take a picture as we stood there.

We walked back to our vehicles and chatted a while longer before we parted company, B.J. to go grocery shopping in Bastrop which is where she lives and me for the long drive home. Altogether, a very delightful hike.

Below is a video of the different trails that we covered.

McKinney Roughs 3-16-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 03/18/2018