McKinney Falls 6-28-2019


This is the Falls when it is not flooding.
A Panoramic view of the falls.

I arranged with my friend BJ that we would meet at McKinney Falls which is a State Park and not very far from our other hiking spot, McKinney Roughs which is an LCRA Park. Both are on the Colorado River. She texted me to say she was running late and I used the time to put on my boots and make other preparations.

Inviting on a hot day.

McKinney Falls has several trails some of which are on the other side of the river and with the latest rains, it looked to be a tricky prospect wading across the slippery rocks while fighting the flow of water. Several people were doing just that when we arrived but we had no intentions of taking that particular hike. The big swimming hole below the falls had a mixture of people and turtles some of which were pretty big. The turtles that is.

Looks like fun.

Instead, we opted for the blacktopped trail that encircles the park and is, according to the map, almost 3 miles around. We have hiked that trail several times before but it has been a couple of years since we were here. One of the things that we noticed was that the blacktop is rapidly deteriorating and if they intend it to remain as a hardcover trail, is going to need some major work.

The temperature was already in the low nineties so it was warm Luckily, most of the trail we were walking is in the shade which helped a lot but even so, hot is hot. We passed a few people going in the opposite direction and as is usual on the trail, pleasantrees were exchanged. Everything was green and beautiful and there were still a lot of flowers although most were coming to an end.

The pool below the Falls.
We spotted this unusual flower. No idea what it is.

We got back to the parking lot and I decided to go back to the Falls which was only a few steps away from where we were parked and take a couple more pictures. BJ left for home and I stopped at the nearest restroom to change out of my clothes which as usual, were totally soaked. I noticed that I had an eight inch crack in my windshield which was not there before. Probably a rock thrown up by a passing car. It is very low down and does not interfere with my driving so I can probably get by until the next inspection due later this year.

There are still flowers at the Park
This is of the blacktop main trail at this Park

All in all, a great hike. A couple of years does make a difference as it felt like it was a fresh place and of course, having great company helps as well especially to one that normally hikes alone. Now where to next….

Oh yes, both of my pedometers that I carry showed we walked 5.3 miles and as that number looks much grander (and bigger) than what the map says, we will go with that.

Written 6/30/2019

A Walk at Pedernales Falls 12-17-2016


dsc_4740My walks now are governed by the temperature/sun forecast although yesterday was a bit of an exception for this time of the year. The forecast was for temperatures to be in the middle 70’s with a sunny day with a cold front moving in directly behind it very late in the evening.

Those sort of days are not to be turned down and I made plans to drive to Pedernales Falls and take a short and easy walk. First I called my friend who unfortunately had a prior engagement so I made plans to walk on my own. Nothing unusual about that as most of my walks are alone.

Ever since spotting the Bald Eagle a while back and rescuing a little dog on another occasion, every time that I drive to Pedernales Falls I am very wary of what is going on around me just in case I might get another glance at that eagle. No such luck this time but here’s hoping.

I arrived at Pedernales and this time, there were only a couple of cars in front of me. Not like the last time when there were at least 30 of them. I paid my $3.00 and told them I was taking a short walk. I planned to park in the Horse Corral and then take a walk to the dsc_4733Duck Pond and from there to head to the Fenceline trail, back onto the South Loop and then back to the starting point. I passed one other couple who were on their way back as I walked around the pond. There was very little in the way of wildlife on the pond or anywhere else with the exception of what appeared to be a Greater Yellowlegs that was hunting in the low water, which incidentally has created two separate ponds. As I continued walking around the ponds, a guy on a trail bike caught up with me and inquired if I was lost. I told him my plans to continue to the Fenceline trail which over its full length is almost 4 miles although I was only going to walk a part of that. He took off following the North Trail.

The walk was uneventful as I strode the Fenceline trail which is very easy walking. I turned off onto a very wide trail that was not signposted but I was hoping that it would bring me back to the South Trail which eventually it did. From there, it was a straight shot back to the Horse Corral where I met two ladies who were grooming their horses having completed their ride and they let me take their picture.dsc_4752lp1

I was parked on the opposite side of the Corral from them so I wandered over to my car and changed out of my wet clothes as the temperature had been hot enough for me to sweat. Altogether I covered 4 miles of very easy walking and was extremely glad that I made the effort to get out. The drive home was uneventful as I listened to a Stephen King story on Audiophone. No Bald Eagles and no little lost dogs.

Enjoy the video.

Pedernales Falls Duckpond Walk 12-17-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Walking at McKinney Roughs with friends 11-16-2016


dsc_4459-panoMy friend Gloria called me in the morning to see if I wanted to go with them on another walk at our most favorite spot, McKinney Roughs Nature Center in Bastrop. I was ready to hit the trails again and it was a toss up between hiking with friends or chopping down overgrown stuff in my yard. It was really a no brainer making that decision.

We planned to meet at the main entrance and this time, I managed to beat them there. Usually, they are waiting for me. The Center had a lot going on one of which was a training session for First Responders. There was also a large group of kids who were learning about Nature. They were from a Private School.

Bobby, one of their dogs managed to get away from them as they got out of the car and came tearing across the blacktop to greet me. A really nice welcome, I thought as Gloria and George along with Nina, their other dog caught up.

I planned to take them on the inside loop of trails comprising of Woodland, Bluff Trail Loop and then back onto Ridge to complete the loop. These trails are very pleasant and easy walking with many park benches along the way. We passed a couple of other walkers going in the opposite direction but otherwise, we had the trail to ourselves.

Altogether, we covered a little over 3 miles and  we said our goodbyes in the Parking Lot. I decided that I would drive to the Hwy 71 Trailhead and take a look at the Zipline which was now open. There were several cars at the building but no one on the ziplines that started the sequence. Guess I need to come back on the weekend to see some action. It is not that I wanted to try it out but rather to take pictures of the other heartier and braver souls than me.

I drove straight home ignoring the danger signals from my body that were insisting that I drive into Bastrop to satisfy my Starbucks cravings. I kept telling myself that it could wait until I hit Austin which is what I eventually did. The last time I went to the Bastrop Starbucks just a couple of days ago, I waited in the drive up line for 25 minutes and that was after them not checking in when my car was at the ordering station. I had to order at the window but to be fair, they did not charge me for my drink. I have no idea why they took so long unless the whole staff were just having a bad day.

Below is a slide show of the hike.

McKinney Roughs with Gloria and George 11-16-2016 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

A walk with Friends, McKinney Roughs 10-9-2016


dsc_4115My good friends, Gloria  and George called me that they had finally returned after having spent 2 months away in Colorado  and New Mexico. The first thing they wanted to do when they got back was to take a hike at McKinney Roughs. I was all for it so we made arrangements to meet up at the Pope Bend Trailhead.

Bobby and Nina, their two dogs were just as excited to see me as I was to greet my friends. Bobby would not leave me alone until I made a big fuss of him. Our plan was to follow the trails that I had covered the last time I was there a couple of days before. That was, to take Roadrunner to Buckeye, then Pecan Bottom, Deep Sandy, Coyote Road and finally back on Roadrunner. We passed the Giant Pecan Tree and try as I might, I could not find a good location that would allow me to take a picture of the whole tree.

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We met up with one family of four adults and two kids. One of the little girls was ahead of the rest of her family and was obviously playing a game with them as when I stood there talking to them, she whooped at them to let them know where she was.

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Even though there were several horse trailers at the Trailhead, we only got to meet up with one horse and rider and that was as we were almost back to the Trailhead. Both very willingly posed for the camera.

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I am still surprised that there are still flowers out in abundance especially the yellow daises. The trails are lined with them.

As usual, I took pictures of the trails which seems to be one of my favorite subjects. At McKinney, the trails are always in good shape as LCRA take care of their Parks. The little dogs always manage to get into the picture one way or the other.

Altogether we covered about 5.5 miles. The weather is beginning to cool down and the hiking is very enjoyable because of it. My friends left and I sat there for a while just enjoying the peacefulness of the great outdoors and Mother Nature at her very best.

A Walk with BJ. 6-29-2016


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This is a panorama of three different pictures of the Upper Falls

BJ and I met at the Lower Falls parking lot around 10:00 am on 6/29/2016 with the intentions of crossing the river and walking the trails on the other side. We walked across the huge granite slab leading to the Lower Falls only to discover that the water was much higher than it had been the week before and that crossing the river was an impossibility. We even walked downstream for quite a ways but the river was running much too high for any sort of crossing. It was not just the wet feet we were concerned over it was actually getting our feet swept out from under us the river was running that strong.

Our friendly Great White Egret was doing his thing in the river where Williamson Creek and Onion Creek join. I wonder if it is the same one?

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We decided that we would hike the three lower trails that are between the Upper and Lower Falls and figured out a way to do this and end up in the parking lot near our cars. Unbeknownst to us, the middle trail, the one that leads past the rock overhang where it is reputed that early inhabitants used for shelter many hundreds of years ago and which also leads past the very big and old Spruce tree, has been washed out and technically, the trail was closed at this point.

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Rock Overhang.

It appeared to us to us that many people had ignored the barricades and had simply gone around them so we decided to do the same. The only problem that we could see is the bridge has lost it’s handrails but otherwise, it presented no difficulty. BJ took a picture of the Spruce on her IPhone and was able to stack one picture on top of the other to make an upright panorama. I am not sure if my Lightroom software can do that.

Spruce tree at McKinney

Very Old Spruce Tree. Biggest tree in the park.

Her picture  turned out pretty good.

The three trails are the usual type trail that we all know and love with rocks and dirt and grass in some places. At one point, we came across a large Red Eared Slider Turtle that was on the path. he stayed in his shell until the humans had gone by.

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The view from the lower of the trails is next to the river albeit at least fifty feet above it, maybe more with some nice views of water.

We completed walking along the three trails and still felt like we needed more so I suggested that we walk the Hike and Bike trail as it is pretty easy going. BJ agreed and we set off and completed the whole circuit. The guys that had been repairing the path the last time out had not made too much progress and they still have a lot of work to do.

On the slab of rock that slopes out of the water at the Lower Falls, four large turtles were sunbathing.

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Finally, another panorama of the swimming hole at the Lower Falls.

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As with all of these groups of pictures, if you click on any one of them, they will enlarge. You can then use the side arrows to move along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

 

 

Walking McKinney Falls State Park with BJ 7-21-2016


DSC_3402BJ and I met a little after 10:00 am at the entrance gate at McKinney Falls State Park as she had earlier indicated a desire to go on another walk. I’m always up for a walk and was more than willing to accompany her. This Park is about the same distance to Bastrop as it is from my house, only about 25 minutes so a perfect spot for both of us without having to travel too far. I have walked here many times and was here last week but it was going to be the first for BJ.

We discussed which trail to take and finally opted for the Hike and Bike Trail. I learned from my walk of last week that we should go in the opposite direction from my previous walk as that would cut out having to ascend the steepest of the hills. This trail is all blacktop with the exception of the places down by the river that have washed out with the recent floods. In fact, we passed a couple of men with shovels and a Bobcat dozer and driver who were working on re-patching the path.

The walk was uneventful and I did not take many pictures having already taken quite a few a couple of days before. Nothing much changes in two days but the Spruce were putting on a display. They are really beautiful trees. When we got into the Picnic Area down by the river, there were a large group of teenagers who were with some camp playing what looked to be a very energetic game of beating each other with long poles. The smart ones were tagged early and got to stand in the shade as the other more energetic or maybe it should read competitive ones, kept on playing.

At the start of the hike, I had shown BJ the Upper Falls pictured above, which she found to be a wonderful place vowing to bring her friend for them to go swimming. She wanted to see the Lower Falls and we jumped into our respective cars and drove the mile or so to where they are located. We parked our cars and walked the short distance and the Lower Falls opened up in front of us. We had to cross a large granite expanse to get to it which was all pockmarked with the actions of water for the past thousands of years. Water is such a powerful thing.

I mentioned that there was a long hike on the other side of the Lower Falls requiring some acrobatics jumping from rock to rock to gain access to those trails. While we were there we reconnoitered what difficulty’s there may be in us older folks trying to cross and it looked passable. The young kids were leaping it without any trouble. Oh, the joy of being young. It looks like we have our next hike ready to go in front of us.

While  at the Lower Falls which has another stream that joins it at this point, I spotted a Great White Egret fishing in the river. They really are beautiful birds.

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As we watched, it moved positions to a different part of the river and we could see it chasing a fish as it splashed around in the water.

We walked back to our cars passing the warning and educational signs outlining the do’s and dont’s of this part of the Park.

As we stood by our cars, both of which are almost identical, BJ asked me if I knew about starting the car from the a distance with the key. I did not and she proceeded to show me. So I learned something new today. Like the car advertisement, I was waiting for a bear to come out of the woods and give me a hug. No such luck, thank goodness, maybe because I did not use voice commands.

Another great day on the Texas trails.

A Walk at McKinney State Park 7-15-2016


DSC_3321I had called a friend who wanted to go out on a hike but at the last minute, she had to call off. I was determined to go anyway and I am well used to walking alone. Actually, this is most of the time. In some ways, I prefer it as I can no longer walk at a fast pace which I am sure irritates some of my walking buddies. I can walk forever but slowly. Not only that, I am always stopping to take pictures which only adds to my slowness. Oh well….On top of that, the ear infection that had produced the unsteadiness in my balance was still not cleared up properly and I am still subject to the occasional stagger. Thank goodness for my walking poles. Be glad when that is all gone. It’s tough when an ex-athlete like myself who could produce glorious moves on the soccer field can barely walk a straight line anymore.

I arrived at the park which is actually the closest State Park to my house, around 10:30 and although it was beginning to warm up, this being Texas in the summer, chose to walk the Onion Creek Hike and Bike Trail. This is a good trail to walk as it is paved its entire length, except where the most recent floods have washed out some of it down by Onion Creek. This has been repaired with coliche which I am quite sure is a temporary thing as I saw signs of other blacktop repairs already chalk marked to identify them. Probably part of the bidding process for the local contractors and we may see repairs in the future.

I went through my usual pre-hike routine, boots, sweatband, hat, camera belt, camera and walking poles and I was ready to go. I started at the Upper Falls and there were already several people swimming and jumping off of the rocks and generally enjoying themselves and keeping cool in the process. Me, not much of a water person although I did manage to slip over in one of my ponds yesterday as I was cleaning it out. That was a bit of a surprise both to me and the fish.

The Hike and Bike trail is blacktopped its entire length. According to the map, it is 2.8 miles. According to my trusty pedometer, it was closer to 4 miles. My body wants to believe the pedometer. It is not a level walk by far as it has a couple of steep climbs and several gradual gradients. The steep grades are sign posted warning the bikers to dismount and walk their bikes down. I wonder how many actually do that? I can see walking up but down…? Yea, right.

I met several people on the trail both bikers, walkers and even runners going in both directions. I took the picture of the family after we had stopped and chatted a bit and another of a young man walking away from me. The Mother with the child on her back, wanted to know how much further to the parking lot and I guessed at a couple of miles. She cheered up a bit when I told her there was a lot of downhill  in the direction she was going.

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Along the way, I managed to take a picture of what looked to me like an American Kestrel and as I was doing that, one of my friends, the Great Blue Heron flew overhead. As usual, I was too slow to capture the picture of the Heron. Onion Creek is really very green. I normally would associate that with algae in my ponds but in a river?

I noticed that there are several very large and presumably, very old Oak trees along the trail with several of the Spruce variety along the river. I wonder how old they are and what stories they can tell.

There are several rock formations and old stone walls that all make for interesting pictures. Included in that are the ruins of an old cabin used by the horse trainer back in the 1800’s.

The prickly pear cactus still in flower this late in the summer and a couple of purple flowers also made for good pictures.

On the way back, I passed the Smith Visitor Center which is no longer in use. It’s a shame really as it is a nice looking building. It is beginning to fall into a state of disrepair. If you look closely at the top of the wall, you can see that the stonework is already falling down.

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I completed the hike and arrived back at my car all hot and sweaty. A quick trip to the restrooms close by to change into dry clothes and I felt like a different person. I drove home, managing to find a Starbucks on the way (surprise, surprise) and listening to Stephen King and the Dark Tower. I am on book 7, the last one of that series and am beginning to dislike the Author for killing off my favorite people. Oh well, it’s only a story.

As with all of these slides, if you click on anyone of them it will enlarge and you can use the side arrows to move along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal size.