Texas Heat


sunny-day-in-cheshire

Another 100 degree day
no wonder I don’t want to play
outside or work on the ponds
or hike the trails where it is hot
too hot for comfort.

I get out early but by eleven o’clock
it is already 90 degrees
and I am soaked with sweat
and my body is telling me
to quit.

I have two choices that I can see,
the first is to drive around in my air conditioned car
listening to stories written
by authors much more skilled
than me.

The second is to stay indoors
trying to write
bad poetry about the Texas heat.

Passing in the Street.


Neighbors Talking

How sweet it is this life we live
with things that happen from day to day
how many friends could we make
as we pass each other along the way
what tales we can tell as we pass the time
we are blessed with riches so sublime
the ability to think and reason too
and figure out what we need to do
to make our lives a better place
as we interact with the human race
love for each other as we share the wealth
of passions and feelings, sickness and health
to look out for your neighbor, the guy next door
that is what being a neighbor is for
if times are hard we should share the love
not trying to keep it all to ourselves
a pleasant smile a quick hello
“How are things today” you want to know
and even though it doesn’t seem much
what you have done adds the personal touch
as people who normally pass in the street
without as much as a glance or a greet
all feel better when you take the time
to look in their eyes and give them a smile
and to tell them in your own personal way
“Hello” and then, “Oh, by the way,
please have yourself a wonderful day”.


 

Another Wet Day…


wet hiking tail

Another wet day in my home town
it has been like this for more than a week
the days before this were a hundred and three
and now it feels much cooler to me
it’s not unusual in Texas for such extremes
as we generally get a cooling trend
with the temperature dropping a few degrees
instead it has gone to eighty three
we can always use the rain
even when the streams are full
and flooding the banks and onto the fields
and washing away the man made shields.
the trails are much too to wet to hike
and with the chance of a lot more rain
out on the trails and under the trees
and walking in mud up to my knees
is not something that I want to do
these very wet days are very few
for not getting out is not overdue.

mudphoto

Pedernales Falls State Park 8-2-2016


DSC_3570-PanoI got up early so that I could beat the Texas summer heat but even so, it was still 10:00 am by the time I arrived at Pedernales Falls State Park. I already had an idea of where I wanted to hike this time and after buying my ticket and chatting to the friendly Park Rangers for a bit, drove back out onto  Pedernales Falls Road to park in the area across from Windmill Road.

DSC_3528My plan was to walk down Windmill Road past the Equestrian Camping Area, cross the pipeline and head towards Jones Spring. Walking on Windmill Road was easy as it was a park road although I am not sure how much traffic it gets. I branched off onto the Jones Spring trail and followed it for about a mile and a half. Some of the trail was easy walking but in many spots, it was really rocky which made walking  difficult.

I arrived at the old building first where I took a few pictures and then wandering over to the Spring which was bubbling away and releasing a lot of water.

As to be expected, the area surrounding the spring was lush and green and it really is a pretty little site. Amazing to think how long people have been using this Spring as their source of water and what stories it could tell if only it was able.

I had just bought a new vacuum bottle to keep my personal water cool as it had been heating up in my aluminum bottles as I walked and was nearly undrinkable. The vacuum bottle was so efficient that I had consumed more water than I normally drink and it was half empty. I should have re-filled it at the Spring but like I said, my brain had stopped working… It could have been a costly mistake as I ran out before I got back to my car and if it hadn’t been for the two apples that I had brought with me, I would have been in serious trouble as hot as it was.

But, I get ahead of myself. I wanted to hike back by taking the East Boundary Trail but was unable to locate where it started from Jones Spring. The map shows that it is close to the Spring but I could not find it. I backtracked to Windmill Road and then branched off onto Juniper Ridge Trail going East and followed it until I came to the pipeline. I could have continued on the Madrone Trail but it was beginning to warm up and I knew my water situation might become critical.

Below are pictures of the Pipeline and of Windmill Road. See how open they both are. No shade anywhere…

I only had one other choice at that time and it was to walk the pipeline back to Windmill Road, a distance of about a mile and a half. I dislike walking on the pipeline as there are no real trails as it is not included in the trail system. The walking can be tricky and the hills are really pronounced probably because you can see straight up and down them with no trees to block the view. There are no meandering trails that wind back and forth to take the edge off the direct ups and downs. And there is no cover at all. It is direct sunlight all the way and yesterday, it was bloody hot.

By now, all of the water was gone as was one of the apples. I walked up Windmill Road after getting off the pipeline and came to the Equestrian Camping area that I thought might have water. They did but I could not figure out how to turn it on. I could not find the shut off valve even though I knew it had to be very close. There was a trough full of the cool clear stuff and for a moment, I was sorely tempted to take a drink out of it but instead, sat under a tree and ate my remaining apple which I knew would sustain me as I was now less than half a mile from my car. Physically I felt fine except for dry lips and Vaseline Lip Balm took care of that but I certainly did not want to push my luck.

This is a picture of Wolf Mountain taken from Windmill Road

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I finished the walk and broke out onto Pedernales Falls Road which I only had to cross to get back to the car. I used my new found remote starter trick that BJ had shown me to get the car running so that it would cool a bit as I walked towards it. I was sitting on the tailgate and two more cars pulled in. I try to always bring a change of clothing as I sweat a lot and am usually totally soaked by the time I finish a hike. Even my leather belt changes color with the moisture it picks up from my shorts. Sorta has that wet look.

I toweled off and changed into drier clothes and headed back inside the Park to the Headquarters to buy a bottle of Gatorade to replace the electrolytes I had burned up. I have absolutely no idea if the stuff does any good  but it was really cold and went down very smoothly.

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I really enjoyed the walk and covered almost 9 miles, 8.6 to be exact. There is something about being out alone with Nature on the trails surrounded by the greens and browns of the Texas countryside. Back in civilization, I stopped at Whole Earth Provision Company and purchased another vacuum bottle, this one a little bigger than the first. Now I have two which should carry me over for future walks and I can even bring hot coffee in the winter time.

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As with all of these pictures, you can click on them to make them bigger and then use the side arrows to move them along. Use the “Escape” key to get back to normal.

McKinney Roughs 7-31-2016


DSC_3513-PanoI hit the trails again, this time back to  McKinney Roughs which has more shade trees than most of the Parks that I go to. With the temperature forecast to go as high as 95 degrees, any shade was going to be more than helpful.

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I arrived at the park at the Hwy 71 Trailhead around noontime, a little later than I had planned and was not a bit surprised to find that I was the only car in the parking area. If there were any others, they had already come and gone. Smart people get up early to beat the heat. I need to try that sometime…

My original plan was to hike Pine Ridge going down the steps and then back up out of the valley to Bobcat Ridge and completing the loop back onto Pine Ridge. However, as I was going through my usual preparations, I noticed that I had not picked up my water bottle after filling it and had left it on my kitchen table. It sure as hell wasn’t going to do me any good sitting there. I thought about it a bit and even I am not stupid enough to go out hiking without water so I changed my plans and headed along Whitetail towards the main offices. I knew that there was an outside drinking fountain on one of the dorms and I figured I would fill up there and then continue on with my original hiking plans. I had a spare bottle in the car, albeit very empty. Whitetail is almost a mile long and so after filling my bottle, I decided that I was not going to hike the complete loop but to walk back along Pine Ridge all the way to where the steps come up out of the valley, backtrack a little and then hit the parking lot. I took my time but even so, the sun was very warm. The trail was under shade a great deal of the way with the Loblolly Pine trees and Live Oaks casting a lot of shadow. I always like walking under the pine trees as the pine needles always smell so nice. Some of these trees are very beautiful.

The zip line project seems to be moving along and it looks like there may be as many as three different runs in different directions. I took one picture of the tower closest to the parking area. and another much further down in the valley.

At one point along the trail, I came across a tree that had fallen a long while ago and that had completely disintegrated and a little further along a piece of wood that had petrified. I wonder why one rotted and the other petrified?

The trails are in really good shape and except where I followed one of the tracks made by the zip line contractors heavy equipment, the grass is short. I have been experimenting with making panorama scenes from 2,3 and even 4 pictures stitched together. The software in Lightroom works very well and the top 2 pictures and the one below are good examples. These are without the aid of a tripod.

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The group below is of the fine trails at McKinney Roughs.

I read somewhere that the color green has a very soothing affect especially when it is linked with the great outdoors. This for me is very true as I am never happier than when I am outdoors and walking the trails. I passed one bush of American Beauty Berry that is just getting ready to flower and it was the only flowers along the entire walk.

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.

 

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.