Pedernales Falls State Park 12-2-2018

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 

Peaceful times

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…

Written 12/4/2018

A Walk at Pedernales Falls State Park 11-27-2018

This Panorama is made up of 6 separate pictures

I decided it was time for a change from my regular haunts at McKinney Roughs in Bastrop and Reamers Ranch in Dripping Springs so I chose to go back to Pedernales Falls State Park that actually has a Johnson City address. I haven’t been there for a while and wanted a change of scenery. 

The Park is located about 35 miles from my house and is at the beginning of the Texas Hill Country as that area is known. This is a State Park so it cost me $6:00 to get in, always well worth it from my perspective. The line at the counter was short but the guy in the front would not stop talking and asking what I considered to be dumb questions of the lone Park Officer that was manning the desk. She was very patient with him, much more than I would have been. Guess it takes all kinds to make up this world that we live in.

I finally got to pay my $6:00 and hopped back into my truck and drove to the Parking Area for the Duckpond Loop. I have made this walk before and the last time, managed to take pictures of an Egret and a couple of wild boars so I was hopeful that I would get something today. I went through my usual routine but as the weather is now a lot cooler at around 65 degrees, only needed to change into my boots. I elected to carry two cameras, one with the 150-600 long lens and the other has the 18-400 lens on it. Both are telescopic. The 150-600 is very heavy at around 5 pounds and really needs a tripod but I can generally get some decent long distance pictures  without one. 

The Duckpond is about a half mile from where I parked the truck and I took a couple of pictures of the trail in this part of the Park. The Duckpond is really two separate ponds, one of which dries up in the long hot Texas summers. It was the first one I came to walking from my direction and I approached very slowly and as quietly as I could possibly be. I managed get a couple of pictures of the ducks on this pond before they took off and flew around in circles before heading off. Walking to the second pond was much easier as the pond was hidden from view by the trees. Along the way is a Duck blind only this one is for taking pictures and not for shooting the ducks. I hung around inside for 15 minutes but the main body of ducks did not re-appear but I got some pictures of the few that were left on this pond.

I moved on along the trail and opted to follow the Duckpond Loop which I knew would bring me back out onto the opposite side of the field from where I had parked the truck. The trail follows the West side border of the Park and the boundary is a marked by a six strand barbed wire fence. This fence line is remarkably straight and this border stretches for a little over 3 miles.

On the neighbors property, there were two deer feeders set up about a half mile apart with the deer blind set equidistant between them, obviously getting ready for the deer season which is only a few days away. Seems a little unfair to me to treat the deer so nicely by enticing them with food and then only to shoot them. Barbaric is probably a better word and personally, I can’t see the sport in that. When I lived up North in New York State many years ago, I and my friends would hunt deer in the Adirondacks. The difference was that we would follow them to hunt them and might end up walking several miles through rocky terrain, sometimes through the snow in the hope of spotting one. Then, if you were lucky, you had to drag it back out of the woods to wherever you were parked. At least, there was effort put into the hunt. I only ever had one deer in my sights and when it turned and looked at me, deliberately shot wide to frighten it off. I didn’t have the heart to kill such beautiful animal. I think I enjoyed the camaraderie of the guys more than the killing although most of them would shoot at a deer and anything else that moved.

Continuing on the walk, I managed to take some nice pictures of that part of the Park and eventually came out into the field where the truck was parked. The grass in the field was very long as it had not been mowed until I got closer to where all of the buildings are situated and that had been taken care of. 

On the way back out, I stopped at the Bird Blind that is located there. It has an interesting warning notice stating to be very careful to check that there are no snakes in the buildings, under the seats or in any of the storage containers. Such is Nature.

I wanted to get more pictures of the river so I drove off towards that parking lot. I parked the truck and walked down towards the river and met a lot of people along the way, most greeting me as we passed, some with comments. I arrived at the overlook that also has steps leading all the way down to the river itself but I didn’t want to make that trip. Instead, I opted to stay at the Overlook and take more pictures. It sure is a beautiful Park and the Pedernales when it is not in flood, is pretty to look at especially at the Falls. The rocks are very impressive. The pictures in the video are all panoramas and are made up of three or more pictures joined together.

This Park does not have a large variety of trees, mostly it is all Cedar but occasionally you come across something different as with the pictures below. These trees are showing off their Fall colors.

This Spruce is growing in the river bed.

I made a slow drive back and detoured into Dripping Springs for a Starbucks stop before making my way home. Another great hike of a little over 4 miles and it was good to have a change of scenery.

Written 11-28-2018

Milton Reimers Ranch, three more hikes.

DSC_1006I went back to Reimers Ranch on 3 out of 4 days, January 16-19 and hiked different trails each time.

On January 16, I decided that cool or not, I needed to get outside and exercise my legs and what better way to do that but to take a hike (literally). I went back to Reimers Ranch as I had left it a little late in the day and it was the closest place for me to go. Not only that, I like hiking there.

The wind was really blowing and there was quite a chill in the air. When I arrived at the parking lot, I went through my usual routines, boots, camera, water and snacks but this time I had an additional item to get ready as one of my sons in England, Peter and his wife Vickie has sent me a pair of hiking poles which arrived just minutes before I left the house and was one reason that I decided to go on a hike. I adjusted them to my required height and added them to my “tools of the trade”.

I really didn’t plan too well as I thought that just a shirt would be sufficient protection from the wind but when I got out on the trail, it was really cold and when I was out in the open, I felt chilled. I thought that I could walk fast enough to stay warm and on the whole I did manage to but I did wish I had put on my jacket. I chose to hike one of the bike trails on the inner circle of the park and a couple of bikes and one runner came by me going in the opposite direction.

I didn’t take a single picture the whole time I was out as I saw nothing of interest that I had not already snapped. Altogether, I covered 4.1 miles and chilled or not, still enjoyed it.

My second hike was on January 18th and this time, it had warmed up considerably enough to where I didn’t need a shirt or jacket. I had decided that I really needed to explore the main multi use trail that encircles the whole park. One of the problems I have had on previous hikes here is finding the right trail that bisects the circle and cuts the main loop in half. All of my previous efforts had led me onto bike trails that tend to wind and twist back on themselves and don’t appear to go anywhere. One of them that I followed on a previous hike led me 8 miles and still didn’t get me back where I wanted to go.  Of course they do get somewhere but take a lot longer walking. I was determined to find the right trail this time out.

DSC_0969I decided to take the inner trail heading West and follow it past Turkey Loop. Three horses and riders passed me going in the opposite direction and I took their pictures. I eventually got  to Johnny’s Homestead. There I took another Multi-Use Trail going South which brought me back to the Mountain Bike Parking Lot and to my car.I covered 4.7 miles of fairly easy walking and had finally figured out the system of trails.

I took a few pictures but the problem with going to the same park on a consistent basis is that the scenery doesn’t change a lot. Everything has it’s winter browns and greys and not much color.

The last hike I took on Tuesday, January 19th. This time, I decided that I was going to walk the entire main loop of Multi Use Trails. Following my usual procedure of boots, camera, water and fruit and now my new walking poles, I was almost ready to go. This time I wore my camera vest to keep warm. I started off in the opposite direction than I did the day before as at least one half of the trail was going to be new to me and I wanted to take a few pictures of that. I followed the Multi Use trail which incidentally is wide enough for the Park rangers to drive as they patrol the park and for the most part, really easy walking.

The  trail at the southernmost  end of the Park leads through more wooded areas breaking out into the occasional prairie. At one point and for a distance of a half mile or so, the trail follows a fairly large stream that may be called Pogue Stream but I am not sure of that.I took several pictures of it and in places, it is fairly wide with the usual Bald Cypress trees growing up from the bottom of the canyon. I believe it is the same stream that acts as the boundary on the Northernmost end of the Park.

We left the stream as the trail follows in a northerly direction and eventually arrived at Johnny’s Homestead only this time from the opposite direction. I figured I was about halfway around the loop and making good time. The double walking poles are a godsend and really help to move me along at a good pace. Now, I was covering the same ground as I did the day before as I walked towards and then past Turkey Loop. I eventually ended up in the parking lot by my car having covered a distance of 6.0 miles.

This Park is a really a nice place to hike and I am sure I will be going back in a couple of days especially now that I have figured out the Multi Use trail system.

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