Pedernales Falls 7-3-2019


A Beautiful Cactus

I decided that I wanted to walk at Pedernales Falls State Park as it had been a while since I was there. I wanted a change of scenery from my usual haunts and with its many cedar trees, Pedernales Falls does that as does the hilly and rocky terrain. This park is about 40 or so miles from my house but is a pretty quick and straightforward drive through the back roads of Texas.

Being a Friday, there were not too many people clamouring for the services of the Park Rangers so check in went fast. I had already decided that I would take the Madrone Trail that would bring me back in a big loop from where I had parked the truck. I changed into my hiking gear and then set off heading for the entrance which I notice was already changed from the last time I was here. This trail brought me onto Windmill Road past the Horse Trailer Parking Area where there was one trailer parked and two horses in the paddock. This trailer looked as though it had a living quarters built into it which I thought was pretty neat. It meant you could load the horses and then stay at a park to ride if and when you felt like it and then come back and rest up out of the sun.

Just hanging out…

As I was standing by the picnic tables, I spotted a deer way off in the distance and got a picture of it. Unfortunately, the picnic tables are also in the way. I continued with my hike following Windmill Road and then turned off onto the Madrone Trail. This is mostly through Cedar so the shade was patchy to say the least and the terrain was very rocky in many places but the trail was good without too many hazards. There were a few flowers along the way including a small cactus that was in full bloom and very beautiful.

The picnic tables were in the way

I finally made the turn back onto Windmill Road and back to the Parking Lot. Soaked as I was, I made my usual surreptitious strip tease and changed into dry clothes. Luckily, as it happened, I was the only vehicle in this particular Parking Lot so I didn’t have to be too discreet.

Comfortably clad in dry clothes, I drove back into the Park and to the actual Pedernales Falls which I had visited several times before. I wanted pictures of the Falls themselves and to see how much water was running in the river. I walked down the hill for about a quarter of a mile to the overlook that gives the best view of the falls. There was an lady artist busy working away on a very nice oil painting of the Falls. I stopped and chatted to her and then took all of the pictures that I wanted before heading back to the truck. It wasn’t until I was driving out that I realized I hadn’t taken any pictures of her or her work and mentally kicked myself for my stupidity.

I took a slow drive home which took me through Dripping Springs and the inevitable Starbucks, tired but content. I had walked almost 7 miles which isn’t bad in the Texas heat….

Written 7/10/2019

McKinney Falls 6-28-2019


This is the Falls when it is not flooding.
A Panoramic view of the falls.

I arranged with my friend BJ that we would meet at McKinney Falls which is a State Park and not very far from our other hiking spot, McKinney Roughs which is an LCRA Park. Both are on the Colorado River. She texted me to say she was running late and I used the time to put on my boots and make other preparations.

Inviting on a hot day.

McKinney Falls has several trails some of which are on the other side of the river and with the latest rains, it looked to be a tricky prospect wading across the slippery rocks while fighting the flow of water. Several people were doing just that when we arrived but we had no intentions of taking that particular hike. The big swimming hole below the falls had a mixture of people and turtles some of which were pretty big. The turtles that is.

Looks like fun.

Instead, we opted for the blacktopped trail that encircles the park and is, according to the map, almost 3 miles around. We have hiked that trail several times before but it has been a couple of years since we were here. One of the things that we noticed was that the blacktop is rapidly deteriorating and if they intend it to remain as a hardcover trail, is going to need some major work.

The temperature was already in the low nineties so it was warm Luckily, most of the trail we were walking is in the shade which helped a lot but even so, hot is hot. We passed a few people going in the opposite direction and as is usual on the trail, pleasantrees were exchanged. Everything was green and beautiful and there were still a lot of flowers although most were coming to an end.

The pool below the Falls.
We spotted this unusual flower. No idea what it is.

We got back to the parking lot and I decided to go back to the Falls which was only a few steps away from where we were parked and take a couple more pictures. BJ left for home and I stopped at the nearest restroom to change out of my clothes which as usual, were totally soaked. I noticed that I had an eight inch crack in my windshield which was not there before. Probably a rock thrown up by a passing car. It is very low down and does not interfere with my driving so I can probably get by until the next inspection due later this year.

There are still flowers at the Park
This is of the blacktop main trail at this Park

All in all, a great hike. A couple of years does make a difference as it felt like it was a fresh place and of course, having great company helps as well especially to one that normally hikes alone. Now where to next….

Oh yes, both of my pedometers that I carry showed we walked 5.3 miles and as that number looks much grander (and bigger) than what the map says, we will go with that.

Written 6/30/2019

Reimers Ranch 7-13-2019


A view of the Park

After that little episode a couple of days ago at McKinney Roughs when I got so tired I could barely finish the walk, I decided to go back out again to see if it would re-occur or it was just a one off. The only way to do that was to hit the trails and see what the outcome might be so I opted for Reimers Ranch where the trails are pretty flat with not too much in the way of major hills or upward climbs, just in case. The one major problem with the Reimers Trails are that with the exception of the Lower River Trail, they are pretty much out in the sun as there is not much tree shade along the way.

Not much shade.

I thought that I would just go for a short hike and made the effort to get out early, (for me) while it was cool, sort of. The temperature was already around the 85 degree mark at 10:00 am and was destined to get as high as 95 degrees but I wasn’t planning on being out in it. I parked in the Mountain Bike parking lot along with the several cars already there. As I was changing into my boots 3 riders pulled in having completed their ride for the day and two other cars finished loading their bikes and pulled out.

I took the trail to Johnny’s Homestead which is really nothing more than a standing chimney with the cabin having burned down several years ago. Along the way, I managed to capture a couple of bird pictures which is pretty good for me as generally, I am much too slow.

I then took the Multi Use Trail going North. This particular trail is one big loop and surrounds the Park. My intent was to just walk half of it as the Mountain Bike Parking Lot sits midway of the loop on a trail that dissects the loop in half. However, the best laid plans etc are for nothing as I felt really good and so instead of continuing on the main loop to bring me back, I branched off heading towards the northernmost end of the Park so that I could walk the Lower River Trail all the way back to where I was parked.

The Lower River Trail

This trail is a little tougher walking as it tends to wind and contours up and down quite a bit but it is not a difficult trail. This is also the same trail that the mountain climbers use to get to the various cliff faces that they use for their dangerous sport and I was able to take some pictures of them as they crawled their way up the cliff face. One gentleman had just reached the top and let out a loud “whoop” in his excitement. He just sort of hung there for a bit as though to savor the moment.

I passed several people coming towards me and we exchanged pleasantries. One young couple with a beautiful dog stopped to chat and introduced themselves as Kendal and RJ and we exchanged photos as I took theirs on their cell phone in exchange for taking my own picture.

RJ and Kendal

As I walked, I could hear the sounds of a speedboat on the river below and before long, two small boats flashed by me. I managed to get a picture of them and a little while later, one of them returned going in the opposite direction.

I also passed by a guy fishing. He was standing in the water up to his waist. I should mention that the river was running pretty strong as the recent rains have if filled pretty high. He had a companion but I was not able to get her picture.

I don’t know if he caught anything but at least he was cool.

I had several lizards for company at one point. They would keep running up the trail in front of me and only when I got very close, would they dart off to one side.

I walked all the way on the Lower Trail to the River Bend Parking Lot which is the lot for the swimmers and also for canoes and kayaks. It has a long concrete road that leads down to the River which, of course, is also a long climb back up and is a pretty steep hill. I had a choice at that point of either the Multi Use Trail to the Mountain Bike Parking or to walk the gravel path located on top of the bluff that stretches all the way the length of the park. I noticed that it has now been concreted in places instead of gravel which didn’t surprise me as the last time I walked it a few months ago, there were several washouts from the recent heavy rains. It makes more sense to use concrete but it is not so pleasing on the eye.

I finally made it back to my truck and by this time the Parking Lot was empty as all of the vehicles were gone. I changed out of my wet clothes into something dryer which of course, promptly got wet again as I continued to sweat. Oh well, can’t have everything. I covered 6.5 miles altogether and am happy to report none of the tiredness that occurred the last time out.

I have put together a couple of videos of the hike. One is of the flowers that are still blooming in the park and the other is of the different views. Enjoy.

Some of the flowers still blooming at this park.
This is of some of the wonderful views in this Park

Written 7-14-2019

McKinney Roughs 6-22-2019


The wildflowers are still in bloom.

I had the urge to get out and about and as it is now summertime in Texas, hiking in the heat is one of the joys of living here. We don’t get much in the way of a winter in Austin but we make up for it in the summertime as we can guarantee that it is only a matter of time before the temperature hits the one hundred degree mark. From then on, it is anyone’s guess as to how many hundred degree days we will get. The record was set back in 2011 when there were 79 recorded 100 degree days. That was a hot summer.

Believe it or not, life still goes on even with all of that heat. We make adjustments and do things like hiking earlier in the day which is usually several degrees cooler. As the temperature rises, the body adjusts with it making it possible to hike. Most of us though, choose not to hike in the extreme heat of the day. I am one of those fortunate or unfortunate guys, depending on your point of view, that perspires a lot and at the end of any heavy physical exertions, am thoroughly soaked through requiring that I change my clothes before jumping in my truck to drive home. I don’t notice while I am walking as I wrap a bandana around my forehead and wear a wide brimmed hat with a neck cover that captures most of the sweat and stops it from dripping into my eyes. I take heed of my Dermatologist and slap on vast amounts of sunscreen otherwise she lectures me at my next visit. Like everything else, if we want to do stuff, we have to make the necessary adjustments.

Such was the case in my most recent walk at McKinney Roughs. It was already ninety degrees when I started out and I chose to hike a trail that is named Yaupon. One reason that I chose it is because it has a lot of tree cover giving me a plenty of shade which really helps. The guide says that Yaupon is two point seven miles long and I knew that it was an out and back hike as the trail that completes the loop has been washed out in a couple of places and is no longer connected. I don’t normally like to cover the same ground twice but as someone pointed out to me, you get to see the same view from two different directions which is true as several of the pictures show the same view from both directions.

The trail has had a lot of work done to it in several different places due to washouts and there were still a couple of wet areas requiring one to carefully pick the footing. Generally speaking though, it was good walking. I passed one gentleman who was heading back in. We chatted for a bit and he tried to convince me that there was more breeze up ahead but somehow, I doubted him although I just nodded my head and passed some remark. I had been following fresh horse tracks and wondered how soon before I would see the horse and rider as I mentioned before, this trail is an out and back trail. Sure enough as I rounded a bend, there was the horse and rider approaching me. Following the trail etiquette, I stepped off to allow them to pass calling out to the rider and asking her if I could get their photograph. As with most people, she was only too willing to pose and the horse just took it for granted that of course he should be in the picture. The horse’s name was Troy but I didn’t get the riders name.

One beautiful horse.

They moved on and I continued until I reached the water tower which is about a half a mile or so from the trails end in Pope Bend Trailhead. I figured that I had gone far enough and turned back to retrace my steps. As with most hikes, those same hills were much steeper going back and the distance much further but I eventually made it back to the parking lot and my truck. I must have taken longer than I anticipated as when I got back, the Office was closed and the parking lots were pretty empty. That was a shame as on the last trip here, I had discovered that they carried chocolate ice cream on a stick and I had been promising myself I would treat myself to one. Oh well, I am probably better off not eating the stuff but darn, it sure would have gone down very nicely.

All in all, I covered seven and a half miles and was really dragging by the time I got back. I carry both an Iphone and a pedometer and they both said close to the same thing. I wonder how the Map makers measure the trail distances as I always walk more than the map says. Normally, I use the park’s restrooms to change but as they were closed, I had to get out of the soaked clothes so ended up doing a strip tease in the Parking Lot. Luckily for me, it was empty and there was no one around which was probably a good thing as if anyone had caught sight of my eighty three year old body, it would have turned them off the opposite sex for the rest of their life.

I drove back and was warmly welcomed by four anxious and excited little dogs. At least, they love me sexy and sweaty body and all…

Written 6/23/2019

Reimer’s Ranch 6-16-2019


Pedernales River at the end of the Park.

I wanted to walk and as I had just been to McKinney Roughs, decided to go to Reimers Ranch, again…Being a Sunday, I expected that there would be a lot of people out and about taking advantage of the beautiful weather and maybe there were earlier but not while I was there. I should correct that by saying that I parked in the very last parking lot known as River View Parking No2 and although busy, the lot was not full by any means. The other lots did look busy as I drove by. This is also one of the lots where the Mountain Climbers park to pursue their dangerous and very difficult hobby. Rather them than me. I included a few pictures of some of them in action as I had the opportunity to watch them for a while.

The entrance to the lower trails at RiverView Parking No 2 is by no means easy and it requires negotiating a set of stone stairs made out of the natural rocks laid in a pretty haphazard fashion. A young fellow was just completing the climb up and was blowing hard as he reached the top and we exchanged pleasantries. I normally do the walk I had planned, in reverse and end up coming up these stairs, not going down and I found it to be a challenge requiring a lot of effort and concentration. No handrails to help but I made good use of my walking sticks. The pictures do not show all of the steps as they go on for at least another 20 yards or so downhill.

Even with all of these rocks, Nature still has a way to make things beautiful.

Having safely made my way down to the Lower Trail which I have hiked many times before, usually going in the reverse direction from today, I started along towards the end of the Park. Going the other way, I had a whole different view of things and was able to take a lot of pictures, looking from the other side, so to speak. A couple of years ago, the Park Staff worked on the Lower Trail and completed it to the end of the park making it a nice trail to walk. I finally came out at the end and before turning up onto the Multi Use Trail which would take me back to the Parking Lot, I sat on one of the benches in the shade and admired the view. It was quiet and peaceful just to sit and become one with Nature.

Then I noticed a beer can and a potato chip wrapper and was brought back to the reality of the world and modern day people, some of whom have no concern for the beauty of Nature and can’t even be bothered to carry out their trash. I picked it up and stowed it away for later disposal and started the walk back the first part of which was up a short and sharp upward climb. This part of the Multi Use trail is wide enough for the Park vehicles to use so the trail was in good shape.

The wildflowers are still putting on a show in the middle of June.

It was a beautiful day with the temperatures in the low nineties which is bearable even when walking. Lots of sunscreen and a good hat and in my case, walking sticks and I was all set. I tend to perspire a lot under normal conditions and when I go hiking, I am usually soaked in the first few minutes of the walk. I took over seventy pictures nearly all of them of the trails which in some cases, were getting pretty grown over with weeds and vegetation. This has been an extraordinary year for growth of every variety and the wild flowers have been extra beautiful some of which were still in bloom. Reimers is a wonderful Park in which to walk and if it has any faults it is the lack of shade along the trails. It is a Multi Use Park with Horses, Mountain Bikers, Rock Climbers, Birders and regular hikers. It even has its own swimming area in the Pedernales River which is well used in the Summer months. A great place to enjoy Nature at her best.

The Trails at Reimers Ranch
The view coming out of the park.

Written 6/20/2019

McKinney Roughs 6-15-2019


Trails at McKinney Roughs

Even though the weather is beginning to warm up, I decided that enough was enough and it was time to get out on the trails once more. I debated as to where to walk and settled for my favorite place, McKinney Roughs which has a lot of shade trees on most of the trails. Another reason although it has very little to do with hiking is that there is an Exxon gas station almost across from the park entrance that sells the gas for at least ten cents cheaper than anywhere else and I always make a point of filling up when I am out in that direction.

I knew what trails I wanted to explore and parked at the Pope Bend Parking Area. I was the only vehicle parked there so had the choice of the shadiest parking spot. I went through my usual routine of boots, backpack, poles and camera belt along with the camera and set off along Roadrunner which would bring me to Buckey which is like a lowlands area with Pecan trees and fairly level walking at least after the first half mile which is either uphill or downhill depending on if you are on the way out or heading back in. Towards the end of any hike, everything seems uphill…I came to the Giant Pecan Tree which is the largest and maybe oldest tree in the Park and is almost twelve feet in circumference. I hadn’t seen the tree in a couple of years and to me, it seemed that it was deteriorating. Maybe that was just my imagination. I sure hope so. Continuing on, I soon was on Pecan Bottom which is a very shady area and great walking and then I hit Deep Sandy which as the name suggests, the trail is of a sandy nature and easy to walk on. Deep Sandy runs right alongside the river which was flowing strong and was very dirty from the recent rains. I had heard the very noisy sounds of a motor boat on the river which I knew to be the Hyatt Regency Hotel’s boat which is next door to the Park. They use it as an attraction to give their guests a trip on the river. I don’t know why the boat is so noisy but maybe that is a part of the fun. I had seen the boat before and was ready for it when it came across my line of vision and was able to get a picture, well actually two pictures of it before it was gone taking with it the sounds of the motor.

I noticed a group of three or four people sitting in the water trying to cool off. A bunch of friends I surmised enjoying the cooling river even if it was dirty. As long as you don’t swim in it, I guess cooling off is OK.

With that excitement out of the way, I got back onto Coyote Road and eventually backtracked onto Buckeye for the walk back. As I mentioned before, it is an uphill slog walking back out of the park and I was glad when I reached the Parking Lot and my truck. I passed one young gentleman on the way into the Park and we chatted for a couple of minutes. As usual, I heard a lot of birds but was not able to capture any of them. I did get a picture of a wooly caterpillar.

I even saw three deer but they caught me by surprise and my camera was in its carrier on my waist. I walk with two walking poles which I find to be of considerable assistance when it comes to the rough ground. As old and wobbly as I am sometimes, I need all of the safeguards I can get which means that unless I am actually taking a picture, the camera is on my belt and not in my hands hence never ready for those surprise shots.

I have learned that In order to be comfortable and not ruin my truck seats, I need to completely change my clothes before driving home as I tend to sweat a lot and am totally soaked by the time I am through. The camera belt and backpack all add to the sweat factor plus add additional weight. I did take the tripod and the really big long lens out of the pack which made is lighter by at least seven ponds but is still weighs in around fifteen pounds.

All in all, I covered around five very enjoyable miles and even decided to rewarded myself with an ice cream, purchased from the LCRA Office on my way out which was thoroughly enjoyable on the drive home.

The pictures are taken in sequence and are mostly all trail pictures. They do give a you an idea of the changing terrain from the first picture all the way through to the last one.

The Beauty of Nature

Written 6/17/2019

McKinney Roughs 6-10-2018


The Trail Home…

I took a walk at McKinney Roughs as I hadn’t been there for a while. It is one of my most favorite parks mainly because it has so much tree cover which here in Texas, is a definite bonus. The temperature wasn’t too bad just in the high 80’s but was beginning to creep up.

The parking lot was full when I pulled in due mostly to an OSHA Seminar going on in one of the many classrooms available for such things. Great place to hold a seminar. I checked in at the office to pay my $2.00 and write down my particulars as requested. I noticed that under the heading of Vehicle Plate Number, nearly everyone with the exception of one person, had written a short description, in my case Green Ford Truck. As vehicle plates are not used much for ID’s, no one remembers them. I have custom plates that I have had for many years always the same one used over and over and I have real difficulty in remembering it. By the way, keeping the same custom plate in Texas does not mean that you don’t have to pay an annual fee. You do and the plates are changed out every 2 years which also costs money.

Colorado River at McKinney after recent rains

I had already decided that I would walk the Coyote Road Trail down to the River and then walk along the River Trail and return back using the Riverside Trail. We have had quite a lot of rain lately and the trails definitely showed it with trail washouts and very uneven surfaces including standing water and mud, lots of mud. The sort that builds up on your boots until you feel that each foot weighs 20 pounds.

Coyote Road is a wide trail and leads down to the River. It is not steep but with the wet surface needed care to negotiate in some spots. It is about a mile long. I didn’t get to see much in the way of wildlife or birds but could hear them in the trees all around me. Probably laughing at my feeble efforts to take pictures of them.

Trails at McKinney after the rains

When I reached the Colorado River, it was obvious that the trail had flooded in places which is not surprising as it is only 20 or so feet from the water which incidentally, was still high and running very fast. It was a real dirty brown color as it carried along dirt and debris from the recent rains. I negotiated the trail along the river sometimes walking through water and always in the mud, lots of mud and then turned up Riverside to head back to the parking lot. Riverside is another main trail and it too is pretty wide and in need of repair due to the recent rains. Lots of washed out areas but not much mud. Riverside is about 1.5 miles long and in my case, at least a mile of it going uphill with only the last half mile anywhere close to being level ground.

Some of the flowers still showing at McKinney Roughs on 6-10-2019

I passed a couple of guys with a big old Ridgeback Dog heading down towards the river and we exchanged greetings. This was followed by a lady and a young boy, Mother and Son I guessed. She asked how far it was to the river and I told her about a mile and half. Her response was that it was all downhill but I gently reminded her that she still had to come back and it was uphill all the way.

I arrived back at the Parking Lot and cleaned off my boots and changed my clothes before heading back home. Altogether, I covered a little over 6 miles and my old aching body was letting me know that we hadn’t been out on a walk in a while and we needed to do something about it.

Written 6/14/2019