Lake Bastrop North 10-11-2019


Storms moving in over the lake

Along with my friend BJ, we decided to walk the other half of the trail between the LCRA parks, Lake Bastrop South and Lake Bastrop North. We had already covered almost half of the trail from the South end and we were left with about 3 miles of the trail to cover from the North end.

The weather had taken a decided change as it was no longer sunshine and a 100 degrees but rolling storm clouds with rain in the air and a temperature of around 75 degrees. We pulled up in front of the trailhead and sat in the truck debating as to whether it was going to rain and if so, should we continue with our plans to walk.

In the end, we both decided that as we were already there, it did not make sense to not walk and if we got wet, so be it. I hustled into my backpack and camera belt and checked to make sure that I had a poncho with me to cover the camera if it came on to rain and we set out along the trail. It was very overcast with the dark clouds piling up and as the lake water was warmer than the air temperature, there was a fog rising from the water giving the lake a very eerie effect. We were about halfway through the walk when it came on to rain, well a slight drizzle which continued pretty much through our entire walk.

The mist rising from the lake.

It is really a great trail to walk on with only the occasional stoney conditions underfoot. Most of the way it is sand or dirt making for very pleasant walking and it was not raining hard enough to turn things muddy.

We crossed a couple of small bridges that spanned ditches that in rainy times would hold water and then we came to the Floating Bridge. This is a bit of a novelty as it moved up and down as we walked across. It really is a floating bridge and is built to rise and fall with the level of the water in the lake. It even has small, for want of a better word, alcoves with benches installed for people to sit and admire the view.

We continued walking and came to yet another bridge with signs that indicated we were 1.5 miles from our starting point or 3.0 miles from the South Shore entrance. We were still about 1.5 miles from where we hiked the other time out and as the weather was getting quite miserable with the rain and wind, we decided that we had walked far enough for one day and did a smart about face walking back the way we had come.

We ended up in the parking lot with the truck immediately in front of us and we were still the only people in view with the exception of one of the park employees who was busy emptying the trash bins. The season must really be over but in all fairness, it was a weekday… Altogether, we covered 4.5 miles of very enjoyable hiking rain and all. I plan on going back to hike the bit we missed to complete the entire trail.

Written 10/19/2019

Lake Bastrop South 10-3-2019


The beauty of nature

My very good friend BJ came up with a new place for us to walk within her hometown of Bastrop. This time, it was another LCRA Park and is named Lake Bastrop South as there is also a Lake Bastrop North which, depending on what we thought of this hike, will be our next one.

In actuality, there is just one long trail of about 4.5 miles that connects the North and South locations of this lake and as we parked in the closest one, decided the we would walk about halfway leaving the other half for another time and from the opposite end, the North location.

There was no one else around that we could see as the parking areas were empty of any cars and people. We parked right next to the trailhead and after our usual preparations started along the trail. Turns out that this is a great trail to walk with only a few hills and very easy going with mostly sand underfoot. It has a lot of shade of Oak trees intermixed with the Pines. In some places, we walked on a carpet of pine needles making for a very pleasant odor as we moved them around.

There are several bridges along this trail all having there own names. The ones that we crossed were named Twin Bridges and yes, there are two bridges side by side, Big Oak Bridge although we could not decide which was the Big Oak and Thrill Creek Bridge which was as far as we went for this hike. None of them had any water flowing in the gullies beneath the bridges as we have not had any real rain in almost 3 months. This started a conversation about the Grand Canyon and how deep it was so out came BJ’s cell phone and she discovered that it was almost 6000 feet deep at its deepest point. That is a little over a mile. Absolutely amazing when you stop to consider that most of that depth is caused by the erosion of the soil by the Colorado River over millions of years. Nature sure is a wonderful thing. Pity that mankind is doing its very best to make sure there is no tomorrow for this wonderful and amazing planet.

We turned back and retraced out footsteps for the return journey having solved most of the worlds problems in about a two hour time span. We got back to the parking lot and this time, there were three Bluebonnet Electric trucks parked in the lot. Whether they were on lunch break or official business, it was completed when we walked up as they all drove off. I didn’t realize it until I went in the Men’s room to change but they are set up for the campers to shower which I could have done had I been so inclined. Maybe next time now that I know.

Easy walking and lots of shade.

All in all, we covered 5 miles of very easy hiking with the added bonus of it being shady for most of the way. Next time, we will park in the North Lot and walk the trail from the opposite end to where we ended this time around.

Written 10/4/2019

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

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 3-6-2018


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The Colorado River.This pano is made up of 4 different vertical pictures.

I decided that I had sat around long enough and that it was time to hit the trails again. This time, I chose to go back to McKinney Roughs as I haven’ t been there for a while. I arrived at the Main Parking Lot around 1:00 pm and being a Monday, the lot was pretty empty as I knew it would be. The lady in the Office in answer to my question, “That no, the big loop is not yet finished as they are building a new bridge”. She did say that they are working on it and that it shouldn’t be too long. I paid my $3.00 and thanked her for the information and went back to my truck.

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This is a pano of 3 different pictures

For those of you that read my blogs know that it takes me a while to get ready for a hike what with changing boots putting on the camera harness and backpack. It has been some time and the Cotton carrying systems that I use for my cameras  needed some attention before I could put it on. I finally got it straightened away and hooked up two cameras and my Bino’s. What I didn’t remember until I got out onto the trails was that I had removed part of the system that connects to the cameras the last time I filmed the Pond Meeting and had not paid enough attention in replacing them. Consequently, I had to make some adjustments out on the trail in order for the cameras to remove smoothly from the holders. It was not a big job and only required an allan wrench to do it but the wrench was in my backpack which I had to take the off in order to retrieve the wrench before making the adjustments. None of it earth shattering but aggravating all the same.

I finally got it all squared away and continued along the Riverside Trail marveling at the beauty of the day as I walked. The sun was shining, the sky was blue and it was not too hot. What more could this old man ask for. An LCRA truck pulled up alongside of me and the driver, “Just to let you know” informed me that there was a big machine up ahead that was cutting down the underbrush and to be careful.

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Showing the clearing work that the Loader has been doing.

I thanked him for the information and continued on my way. I came upon the Loader but it was parked so I did not have to worry about getting run over or mulched up by the gadget on the front.

All around me were signs of spring. Many of the Oak trees already had new leaves showing. There was a Blackthorn Bush that was just covered in flowers and I even saw a couple of butterfly’s although they wouldn’t settle for a picture. The trail leading through the trees just after the riverfront had green grass . Some of the trail was a bit rough in places where it had rained and then horses and people had walked on the wet trails leaving footprints  that had not yet smoothed out. As I headed down towards the river I marveled at the beauty all around me. My attention was drawn to a rock that had different colored moss growing on it and when I got close enough, there was also a small  yellow flower growing alongside of it.

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This particular trail leads right alongside of the River for about a half mile. I passed one older gentleman that was just packing up his fishing gear ready to leave. Other than him, there was no activity on the river, no egrets or herons nor many other birds that I could see. I could hear them but they were well hidden. I followed Riverside Trail until it meets up with Coyote Road which I knew would bring me back to the Parking Lot. On my way up Coyote, a guy on a bike passed me. That is the first bike that I have ever seen on these trails which are generally not open to bikes. Then an  energetic young man who was running the trail passed me going in the opposite direction.  Near the end of the walk, I met yet another runner. It was a great day for any sort of physical activity. I arrived back at my truck thankful to be still be able to walk on these hikes. Altogether, I covered 5.5 miles and I could tell that I hadn’t been out on the trails for some time. My old body was protesting loudly but I knew that a stop at Starbucks on the way home would fix everything…

Hiking McKinney Roughs 3-6-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

This is such a beautiful time of the year to get out and walk and commune with Mother Nature.

Written 3/7/2018

A Walk At McKinney Roughs on 6-11-2017


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A peaceful place….


I found time to take another short walk and decided to head for my most favorite of places to hike and that is McKinney Roughs. Another reason that I wanted to get out was to try out a new camera carrying harness that allows me to carry two cameras at a time and to be able to choose which one based on the shot.

I have just bought a Nikon D7500 which along with my D7200, complement each other. I had a Tamron wide angled lens on one and my 18-300 Tamron telescopic lens on the other. I was able to change cameras depending on the view and the shot I was wanting to take. Another reason that I purchased the second camera was so that I could also use one of them, probably the D7200, to take the place of the video camera that I had that only got used 2 hours per month at the Austin Pond Society Meeting. So, I traded the video camera in taking a huge loss of course, partially to pay for the D7500 as I plan on using the D7200 to take the video of the meeting and the other camera for the still shots.

With all of that said, the D7500 has a few more bells and whistles which I haven’t a clue how to use although I was nicely surprised to find some of the day’s shots already on my cell phone with the Wi-Fi already set up. That’s both good and bad as I will quickly fill up my space allowance on the phone if I don’t control that. “Nuff said about the photography equipment.

I have walked McKinney so many times I rarely need the map but I carry it with me just in case. This time, I decided to walk down Bobcat Ridge to Pine Ridge and then onto Cypress which brought me down close to the river. Cypress and Riverside are beautifully shaded with intermittent views of the river. They are great trails when the weather is dry but get very muddy after any amount of rain. This is also a horse trail and the horses tend to cut up the softer trails after any rain to talk of.

From there, I took Bluff Trail Loop onto Ridge which brought me back to the parking lot. I never saw another hiker out on the trails and the only other people I saw were in the parking lot either getting ready to walk or had just completed their walks. Altogether, I covered 6 miles which is about my normal hiking length nowadays. I took a lot of pictures which I have turned into a slideshow. Most of the pics are of the trails as nearly all of the flowers are over for this season except in the parking lot where the gardens are in full bloom. Still not too many butterflies around yet. Maybe later in the year. I have yet to take any pictures of birds except for the White Egret down by the river. I hear the birds but can never see them. Same is true of any wildlife. I probably make so much noise with my walking poles that any animal type is long gone by the time I get there.

If you are looking for a place to take a hike, McKinney Roughs is the place to go. Most of the trails are shaded and only a couple have steep climbs and the scenery is very beautiful. I highly recommend it.

Below is the slideshow. Enjoy.

A Walk at McKinney Roughs 6-11-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.