McKinney Roughs 7-8-2019


A panoramic view of the west end of the park taken from the top of the step area.

The weather was beginning to warm up when I started out but being the stubborn idiot that I am, I went anyway for a hike at McKinney Roughs, my favorite park.

Per my normal routine, I changed into my hiking gear, grabbed my camera, paid my $2.00 and was off this time taking the Pine Ridge Trail. I have hiked this trail several times before and knew the hazards that were in front of me in the form of steps, many, many steps. I had never had any trouble before and had no reason to think that this hike would be any different.

A gentle trail

The trail is good walking and only in a few spots were there loose pebbles as the makeup of the landscape changed underfoot. This trail heads in the area of the Zip Line system that has been built in the park and is operated by a private company. I reached the first of the several towers followed after about a half mile with the second tower which is located at the top of a bluff. The trail leads right past this tower and then descends down into the valley below. While I was in sight of the towers, there was no Zip Line activity although I did hear some on my way out.

Just a few of the dreaded steps

I started down the wooden steps which I have walked several times before counting them as I went. There are 81 total steps going down from the end of the trail I was walking and for some reason, I began to feel very tired and weary which has never happened before. As I was already more than a couple of miles from the parking lot and at the midway point of the walk, I opted to keep going even knowing that I immediately had 101 steps going up a rather steep incline. I felt weary enough to stop and rest a couple of times on the way up before finally making it to the top. Using the very English expression, I was totally “knackered” but still about 3 miles from home and had no choice other than to keep plodding on which I did taking various rests along the way. I came to a bench on the trail but it was out in the sun which is not where I wanted to sit. Also it was hotter than blazes and I couldn’t have sat on it anyway. I wonder why the Park people had not put the bench in the shade somewhere. Anywhere but in the hot sun which was probably at 95 degrees. I came to the Bird Blind which has been recently built and seeing that there were no people inside, decided to sit and rest for a while before going on even though I was probably less than a half mile from the parking lot. That helped a lot and I probably dozed off for a bit before making the final effort and to cover the last distance to the truck.

A view of the Pedernales River.

I changed out of my wet clothes and as the office was still open, went back inside to buy a bottle of water. I had exhausted my own. I also bought an ice cream sandwich which really put life back into me. I have no idea why I was affected this way as it has never happened to me before. I refuse to put it down to age or something that I ate so it was probably the heat. Lesson learned is to hike earlier in the day when it is a little cooler. Altogether I covered about 7 miles which is normal for me although these turned out to be very hard and exhausting miles.

The thirty mile drive back with the AC going full blast and I was cooled down very nicely by the time I got home. I didn’t even stop for my usual Latte. Can’t wait to get out on the trails again but got to stay away from those steps…

Written 7/10/2019

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 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

A Trio of Hikes – McKinney Roughs, LCRA


McKinney Roughs, Bastrop – An LCRA ParkDSC_0193

This was the first of the trio and I have been to McKinney Roughs many times and have yet to be disappointed. The trails are generally in good shape and provide different vistas with the river bottom trails all the way to Bobcat Ridge and Pine Ridge. I called ahead to see if the Park had re-opened after the recent heavy floods and was told that there was a race going on but I was more than welcome to come and enjoy the trails, even the ones used by the athletes.

I packed my new camera, refilled my water bottle and selected some fruit for energy and arrived at the Park about 45 minutes later. I chose to go in the Hwy 71 Trail Head where to my surprise, I found several primitive campers. I hadn’t realized that they allowed camping but it certainly makes a lot of sense especially with the weather as nice as it is and there is plenty of room at this Trailhead. I had previously mapped out a route to take that would get me onto some of the smaller trails that I had not hiked before. As with most trail systems, there is always some redundancy and to get to new trails meant covering the old ones. I took the Whitetail Trail which would take me past a couple of ponds. On a previous hike, I had encountered two Blue Herons that had been feeding at one of them but had been too slow to react to take any pictures. It is unusual to see a pair of Herons in the same place as they are very territorial. The might have been a pair, male and female or one of them may have been a younger bird being shown the ropes. This time I was ready and tried to approach the pond as quietly as I could. However, I was out of luck as there were no Herons or any other bird life at either of the ponds.

From Whitetail, I took Pine Ridge to Foxtail and then to Riverside which is one of the main trails. As I was hiking along, several runners were passing me and except for those out of breath, the majority said hello as they raced on by. They appeared to be of all ages and both genders and a couple passed me more than once. The trails were all marked by blue tape so that the runners would know which ones to take. One of the runners, passed me for the second time only this time, he was walking. We got into a conversation and he had a strong British accent, much worse than mine. Turns out, he was from Bristol which is in the West of England. I asked him about the race as it was not making any sense to me. He said that he had finished his run as he was doing the 5K. Apparently, there were several different categories in terms of length 5K, 7K, 12K, 80K and one that was based on time, 12 hours of running. We chatted on for a bit and then went our separate ways, him to the Main Parking Area and me to continue with my hike.

I branched off Riverside onto a new trail (for me), Bluff Trail Loop which proved to be very interesting as it was both high and low so the views were both of panoramic vistas and valley trails. Bluff Trail Loop led me back onto Riverside and then Coyote Road, a long, steady up hill climb heading back to the main Parking Lot.

I turned off onto Bobcat Ridge and then back to my car via Whitetail. I covered around 8 miles altogether and arrived back to my car a tired and very happy hiker.

Along the way, I stopped to take pictures of anything that I thought might be interesting. The leaves are changing color and the long grass is turned brown. There are only a few flowers brave enough to still be blooming and they were in the very last stages. Even though I have taken many pictures of this Park, I can always find something new that I find interesting enough to raise my camera.

I think one of the reasons that I like McKinney Roughs is the short drive into Bastrop to the Starbucks located there and this hike was no exception. It was one very happy and tired hiker sipping  on a non fat Latte that made the long drive of 45 miles back to my house.

If you click on the first (or any) of the pictures, it will enlarge the pictures into a slide show that you can scroll along by using the side arrows. Use your escape button to get back.