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


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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.

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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

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

McKinney Roughs 7-27-2017


DSC_6384-PanoEven though the forecast was for the temperatures to get to one hundred degrees, I decided that I wanted to go out again for another walk. I couldn’t make up my mind where to go and finally decided that McKinney Roughs had the most shade cover and was probably the best place.

Something came up which delayed me getting out early and it was almost 11:00 am by the time I arrived at the Park. On the way over, I was mulling over in my mind which trails I wanted to hike and had more or less decided that I would take Coyote Road and then hit Riverside. From there, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go and was going to play it by ear.

I paid my $2:00 and chatted to the young lady at the desk for a bit and learned that some of the trail repairs were complete although it is still not possible to complete the big loop that includes Road Runner and Yaupon.

I set off down Coyote Road which is a big wide trail with not too much shade but heads downhill towards the river. Both Coyote Road and Riverside are best hiked going down as both are somewhat hilly especially Roadrunner.

On the way, after seeing a Roadrunner in the Parking Lot, I followed another one that kept making short flights ahead of me until it finally tired of that game and headed into the brush. It was too far off to get any meaningful shots of it. As I crested one of the short hills on the trail, two deer crossed the road in front of me and of course, were gone by the time I got the long lense camera out and ready. I continued stealthily past the spot where they had entered the brush but they were truly gone.

Continuing down Coyote Road towards the end where it had previously washed out, I took a look at the work that LCRA has performed in rebuilding the washout. It looks like the actual rebuilding of the ditch is complete and now all that remains is a bridge to span the gap. Still a few months away, I would guess.

Heading back , I took Riverside which as the name implies, brings you alongside of the river. That is a very nice trail to walk on with the temperatures so hot as it is completely covered with this wonderful canopy of trees. I was looking for anything of interest that might be in or around the river and spotted a whole flock of Vultures. I could not see what type they were whether they were Black or Turkeys and none took off while I watched them for around 10 minutes. I counted forty or more and I have never seen so many in one place. I have no idea what they were congregating for or about as none appeared to be eating on anything. Maybe it was a Vulture Convention to discuss the weather or the shortage of carrion. Who knows…

I finally left that pack of birds and headed along Riverside and then crossed over onto Bobcat Ridge which I knew would bring me back to my car. On the way, I could hear a whole bunch of people coming and as I rounded the corner, met up with a large group of maybe 25-30 young kids accompanied by two Adults. All the kids were carrying water bottles and pulled over to one side to let me by when instructed to by the lead adult. All that is, except one boy who wanted to know why he had to move over. As I got level with him I said, “It’s age before beauty and I am a lot older and much uglier than you”. Everyone laughed at this as he moved out of the way.

It’s great to see the kids out in the woods enjoying and learning about Nature. Nowadays, kids do not spend enough time outdoors and many haven’t a clue how Nature works, or what sort of trees and flowers they are looking at, or what are the names of the different birds and animals they might be lucky enough to see.

After leaving the kids behind, I continued along Bobcat Ridge and crossed back onto Riverside only because I was running low on water and knew I could replenish as soon as I hit the buildings. As I was taking a picture of the horizon, a young couple came down the hill making real easy work of it. They stopped so as not to get in the way of the shot and I got a back view of them as they disappeared.
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I continued climbing up Riverside which, apart from the steps on Pine Ridge, is the steepest trail in the park. I arrived back at the Park Headquarters and spent some time taking pictures of the flowers planted in the gardens. All are Native Plants and last year were inundated with butterflies. Not  sure what has happened but there are not too many flying today.

All in all, a very enjoyable but somewhat hot, hike. I covered 6.5 miles and got a few shots. I was looking for birds and saw very few and even less to take pictures of. I could hear them but that was about it.

Below are two videos. The first is of the trails at McKinney Roughs, mostly of Coyote Road and Riverside with a couple of Bobcat Ridge.

 

Trails at McKinney Roughs 7-17-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

The second is the flowers at McKinney Roughs. Most of them are in the gardens at the Park Headquarters but all are native Plants. There are a couple from out on the trail but they are getting hard to find.

The Flowers at McKinney Roughs 7-27-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.