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

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

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 Hike – 6-8-2018


DSC_2686 The view from Riverside going down towards the river

As I hadn’t been out for a while, I asked my friend BJ if she wanted to take a walk over in her neighborhood, McKinney Roughs in Bastrop. She was game and we agreed to meet at 9:30 am at the main entrance.

We both showed up on time and after paying our $2:00 each for the luxury of spending quality time on the trail, set off along the trail leading to the river, aptly named Riverside. We stopped at the new bird watching shed that has recently been erected and chatted to a couple of people already there. The water to the water feature was turned off for some reason and that was one reason there were not many birds to watch.

We pushed on and LCRA has done such a good job of trimming the vegetation around the trails that it was difficult to recognize that in fact, we were on the right trail. We eventually came to a more recognizable part and headed down towards the river. I have either gotten a lot slower or BJ is walking faster. Whatever it was, it took us a while to adjust our paces. I tend to think that I have gotten a lot slower…

We passed a young family with a young child that were on their way back and chatted to them for a bit. Later on, we passed a couple of others all out enjoying the early morning sun and getting their exercise. The walk by the river was beautiful and I took some nice shots of the trails. Actually, the only shots I took were of the trails as we didn’t see anything else.

We made the turn back up Coyote which would bring us out to where we started in the Parking Lot. Altogether, we covered a little over four miles of very pleasant walking although the trail was a little rough underfoot at times.

Below is a short video of some of the trails.

Trails at McKinney Roughs 6-8-2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Written 6-8-2018

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