A Hike at McKinney Roughs 4-20-2019


The very muddy Colorado River

Tired of sitting around indoors, I made a last minute decision that I wanted to take a hike. The next question was where did I want to go. After considerable thought, I decided that as I hadn’t been to McKinney Roughs in a while, that would be a good place. I texted my friend BJ to see if she was interested but she texted back that she already had plans.

I wasn’t about to let that stop me from enjoying the beautiful Spring day and after a short drive of about thirty miles, found myself in the parking lot at McKinney. I had recently bought a new backpack that I hadn’t yet had time to try out. I had already packed it with all of the relevant gear including the Tamron 160-600 long lens which, if I plan on using , usually carry already attached to a camera and on a waist harness. The carrying system that I have is from Cotton Carrier which enables me to carry two cameras and a pair of binoculars at the same time if I so choose. This lens adds considerably to the weight of the pack as it weighs in around 5.5 pounds when attached to the camera making it a very heavy addition. The new pack also had straps on the bottom allowing me to pack a lightweight tripod just in case I needed it. Altogether, the pack weighs in at around 25 pounds fully loaded so in many ways, this was going to be a test as to whether I could manage such a heavy load.

I stopped in at the office and paid my $5.00 and chatted to the lady behind the window and set off heading for the Riverside trail. Turns out that there was going to be a wedding and preparations were underway with the staff busy setting up tables outside and a band off to one side that was practicing and getting their sound systems just right. Another lady was preparing bouquets for each table and there was a general air of busyness.

Pictures of the trails at McKinney Roughs

I walked on Riverside heading out into the beautiful lush new spring growth that Nature provides us every year taking pictures as I went. I wasn’t really sure which trails I was going to take as I had no plan and was waiting to see what would guide me. On a whim, I turned off onto Valley View and followed it for a while and then took Bluff Trail Loop. This trail has a major overlook of the valley below with glimpses of the Colorado River. The river was extremely muddy colored as there had been a lot of rain very recently and was flowing quite strongly. I did not plan on walking down to the river on this particular walk guessing that the bottom trails would be very muddy and cut up.

Spring Flowers

I completed Bluff Trail Loop then headed back up Ridge to the Main Campus. I passed back alongside the wedding area taking care not to get too close as I didn’t want to interrupt anything. As it happens, the guests were just starting to arrive looking somewhat out of place with the men all dressed up in suits and ties and the women in dresses with summer hats. It would have been more fitting if they had on shorts and tees to go along with the scenery. Oh well…Still a beautiful place for a wedding. Lets hope that the lucky couple can copy nature and make their marriage last forever. Hard to do in these modern times but I wish them the very best. Guess I am a cynic.

Panoramic pictures of McKinney Roughs

Altogether, I covered 4.5 miles and I’m happy to say that the pack rode very well. I only noticed it a couple of times and if it had become too heavy, I could have always pulled out the camera and long lens and attached it to one of the carrying straps on my waist belt. I got some great pictures and everything is so wonderfully green with lots of wildflowers in bloom. Here’s looking forward to the next walk.

Written 4/24/2019

A Spring Walk at Reimers Ranch 3-27-2019


A pano of the top trail

The weather was a balmy 75 degrees so I decided that I would go for a walk at Reimers Ranch which is about 15 miles from my house. The drive alone is very pleasant and gives me more opportunities to listen to the current Audio-book that has me very much engrossed. Being a week day, I knew that there would not be very many people lucky enough to take the time to enjoy the wonderful weather and get in some exercise to boot.

I had no specific plans except to start walking from the very last Parking Lot known as River View Parking No 2. I headed of along the Multi-use Trail in the general direction of the Turkey Trail and then at the last minute decided to stay on the Multi-use Trail heading back to River View Parking No 1.

The Spring flowers are blossoming in all of their glory and I got some great pictures. As usual, I also took pictures of the trails and the surrounding views which are bright with new growth as Nature has painted things with her green brush. I spotted a couple of birds that looked like the same type in both pictures . I believe they were Cowbirds and of course, the sky was dotted with the ever circling Buzzards. If I don’t see any other birds, I can guarantee to see a Buzzard or two.

I passed a couple of young ladies on the upper gravel trail on my way back to the Parking Lot where I had first set out. We greeted each other as is the ways of trail hikers and exchanged a few pleasantries. I headed back to my truck and altogether, managed to cover 5.2 miles which also included walking around the grocery store. A very successful afternoon.

Multi Purpose Trail

Written 3/30/2019

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

The New Year


Lets see a quick review
of the things that I want to do
now that the New Year has already begun
and we have started to have some fun
no resolutions did I set
knowing that I would soon forget
at keeping them I am not very good
as least not as good as I should
and generally it is a waste of time
and so I have drawn the line
and instead will outline this years plan
hiking of course of which I’m a big fan
and taking pictures while I am out on the trail
with words to fit I shall prevail
and post in my blog for all to see
how words and pictures make harmony
I plan on losing a little more weight
for that what I have is extra freight
to carry around an unnecessary risk
to eat less is the way to the fix
along with working out at the gym
to try to make the body more trim
and regain the muscle that I have lost
as old age creeps on and is really the boss
so really there is a very short list
one that I can easily fix
take pictures and hike as far as I can
write in my blog for all of my fans
cut back on my eating and lose some pounds
and work out at the gym myself to confound
with just how easy it really can be
to make 2019 my legacy.

Written 1/10/2019










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