Retired from the University of Texas and too old to play soccer anymore. Now, in the twilight of his years, time is spent writing in this blog, hiking and exploring Texas Parks, photography, working out, gardening and tending to the five ponds he built .
I decided to go for a short walk at Reimers Ranch, which is the closest of the hiking areas that I tend to visit and only a 20 minute drive from my house. I wanted to see if there was anything to photograph and that would catch my eye this being the Texas wintertime. As I walked along, my mind went back to when I lived in Upper New York State and at this time of the year, there would probably already be a foot or more snow on the ground plus freezing cold temperatures that are definitely not conducive for taking walks outside. Such are the blessings of living in Texas that in the central part of the State where I live, the winters never get very cold and we only occasionally get any snow. For us, putting up with many 100 degree days in the Summer are what test our resolve when it comes to weather.
But I digress from the original intent which was to talk about the latest hike at Reimers Ranch which I have hiked so many times that I am my own map of the Park. I parked in the very last parking area known as River View Parking No 2, the one used by the Rock Climbers, and struck off onto the Main Trail walking back towards the park entrance. The plan was to walk back on this trail for about a mile which would bring me to the third of the parking areas, River View Parking No 1, across the road. From there, I took the gravel path that is located on the top of the bluff above the Pedernales River. This path stretches the full length of this frontage overlooking the river from the very first parking area the entire way and ends in the last parking area. Incidentally, the river which for much of the year has a steady flow and is always bank to bank, is down very low as we have not yet had much in the way of rain to refill it after the long hot summer. That will almost certainly happen in the Spring.
As I walked along, I noticed that the vegetation is wearing its winter brown with the only green being the evergreen oaks and the very occasional cactus. I took several pictures including a couple where I tried to, and not very successfully I might add, take a picture of the sun’s rays as they broke through the clouds. Alas, mine and cameras eyes did not agree on what we both saw and the end result is disappointing. I did not see a single bird although I could hear them somewhere close by. I guess, many of them have migrated to warmer climes.
Altogether, I covered about 2.5 miles of very pleasant walking. I passed a couple of other people going in the opposite direction and we exchanged pleasantries. Nice to see people out enjoying nature. I arrived back at my truck ready to make the drive home with a detour to Dripping Springs for a Starbucks break. One thing about hiking at this time of the year, I am not covered in sweat requiring a change of clothing like what happens in the Spring and Summer. Altogether, a very enjoyable walk in the country and not a bad way to end the hiking for this year.
The best laid plans of both Mice and Men are sometimes disrupted by simple things. Take today, for example. I had arranged with my friend BJ that we would go walking at Reimers Ranch as she has never been there. We planned on meeting at 10:00 am at my house as this time, she had to come over to me instead of the reverse. We had planned for me to drive us to the Ranch as it lay West of my house and it didn’t make sense to take two cars.
I got to thinking that 10:00 am would mess up my usual routine as the dogs and I are really lazy bums when it comes to getting up in the morning. Anything earlier than 9:00 am is totally unheard of if I have not made plans to go somewhere or do something. Consequently, I had to set my phone alarm for a 7:00 am wake up call which is a couple of hours earlier than when I am normally used to getting up.
At the allotted time, the alarm went off and I dragged my lazy ass out of bed wishing that I could crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep. The dogs looked at me as if to say, “What the hell is going on?” and promptly did go back to sleep. I struggled to get dressed cursing under my breath and noting that it was still dark outside and wandered out into the kitchen.
First things on the agenda was to take a walk outside and feed the fish and check the ponds for any overnight concerns. Both of the younger dogs accompanied me outdoors taking a walk around the garden and exploring the overnight smells from the different animals that had visited. Everything appeared OK so after checking and washing out a couple of filters, we wandered back indoors. I noticed that it was very cloudy and there was moisture in the air.
Next thing was to feed my three furry friends who by this time, had given up any attempts of sleeping in and were now busy getting in the way as I prepared their breakfast bowls. With them all taken care of, I turned my attention to the computer to check on the weather forecast. Sure enough, the forecast was for thunderstorms and rain showers which prompted me to text BJ and ask her what she wanted to do pointing out the weather forecast. Her immediate response was to postpone the walk until next week as neither of us enjoyed hiking in the rain as we had done on a hike at Bastrop State Park a month or so ago. We texted for a bit and then I turned my attention to my breakfast and making a latte for myself, which incidentally, I do every morning.
With the change of plans, I now had the entire day to myself and looked at the choices that I had to fill it. As the weather was unpredictable, they were mostly confined to anything I could do indoors which in my case, usually involves with working on photos or writing a blog. This blog is the end result.
Oh yes, BJ and I will go walking next week if she is available or I will go by myself when hopefully, it will be nice and sunny with balmy seventy degree temperatures. Such is winter in Central Texas although Texans have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather, just hang around for a bit and it will probably change” and we could quickly go from rain to thunderstorms and then back to sunshine almost in the blink of an eye. We may even get a bit of a freeze as it is wintertime, sort of.
Reimers Ranch is located a few miles from my house and sometimes I will drive out there just to either take a short walk or even to just drive the roads within the park. It is quiet and peaceful and is never so crowded to be uncomfortable especially on the trails. A lot of people come for the Pedernales River where they can enjoy such things as swimming, fishing, boating and even birdwatching. The Park is also very popular with the crazy daredevils that enjoy rock climbing as a hobby. Rather them than me.
I decided that a short walk was in order and from past experience chose to park in the River Bend parking lot and walk as far as the River View lot and then get back up onto the gravel trail that overlooks the river for the return walk. Sounds pretty simple and for most of the way was very easy walking. A couple passed me and as I approached the River Bend lot, there were several people enjoying a picnic at one of the many tables that are spaced around the river. At this point, I had the difficult, for me, climb up and out of the gorge. These rocky “steps” at this and the next exit are a bit tricky requiring a lot of concentration and attention so as not to miss a footing. Thank goodness they are short in distance with not too many steps.
After safely making the climb up and out, I walked the gravel path which is on top of the river gorge for the entire length of the park. It does not always have views of the river as sometimes it is set too far away but there are enough to make it interesting. This path is very easy walking except in the hot summer as there is no shade for its entire length of about 4 miles.
I made it back to the River View lot and there were still a couple of cars and several people using the facilities. Some were just finishing and others just starting but all with the same purpose, to be out and and about in the fresh air getting some exercise.
The Pedernales River is very low as we have not had any serious rain in nearly 3 months
Altogether, I covered a little over 2.5 miles and as the intent was to just get out and enjoy the day, I succeeded in that.
Two weeks ago, we were still at 100 degrees, last week it dropped to 80 and overnight it dropped to 35 degrees with a high forecast for today of 45.
We did get about 2 inches of rain but that is far short of what we need. Creeks and ponds are totally dried up and it will take a lot of water to bring everything back up to normal levels. Even the Pedernales River at Reimers Ranch is just a trickle.
At least I haven’t come across any sun bleached bones of human or animal skeletons on the trails… yet.
Now that the weather has calmed down a bit first with our dreadfully hot summer followed by non stop rain, I was able to get out to take the first serious walk of the Fall season. I opted for Reimer’s Ranch as the walking is fairly easy and I wanted to work my way back into it. After such a long lay off, this old body needs some time to gradually get acclimatized to extra effort.
There were a lot of cars in all of the parking lots as others chose to enjoy the mild weather and get outdoors. The Horse Parking area had 5-6 trailers in it and I did see a couple of horse and riders as I drove to the very last parking area that is called River View Parking #2. This lot is the main one for the second of the two Rock Climbing Areas. It took me a while to get ready as I did a complete change of clothes putting on older shorts and tee shirt and of course, my boots. I tend to sweat a lot and generally get back in totally saturated requiring that I change again this time into dry clothes for the trip home. Gotta keep my truck as clean as possible and sure don’t want sweaty seats. It also took me a little while to sort out my camera gear as apart from the short walk a week or so ago, hasn’t been used for several months. Not so much the cameras as they are always in use but the belts and my Cotton Camera carrying systems have kinda sat idle for a few months.
Finally satisfied that everything was in place and opting to carry just the one camera with the 18-400 mm lens, leaving the heavy long lens behind, I set off. I was going to walk the Turkey Trail and follow it to the very end of the Park. On the way, I came across an Oriental family of Husband, Wife and a small child. After saying hello, they asked for directions on how to get back to the Parking Area and I was very happy to oblige them.
Pressing on, I came to end of the Park and chose to take the Lower Trail which would take me past the Rock Climbing Areas. It was very quiet as far as wildlife was concerned and the only thing I saw were several Buzzards floating in the sky. I didn’t see any other birds of any type nor did I hear any. As I neared the Rock Faces, I could hear the chatter and laughter of the climbers and it wasn’t long before two groups walked past me on the way out. I also passed a young lady with a large puppy which looked like a pointer. She was having trouble with it as it was still learning how to behave. I always step aside for these young people as they all walk faster than me and I don’t want to get in the way of the enthusiasm of youth.
I managed to miss the exit from the gorge and found myself walking further than I had intended eventually climbing out at Parking Lot #1. This meant that I had to walk the gravel path that connects all four parking areas adding a mile or so to my original distance that I had planned. I eventually arrived back to my truck and sat for a while before driving home. Altogether, I covered a little over 5 miles, a bit more than I had planned but I felt OK which was the main thing. Altogether, a very enjoyable walk and it was good to be back on the trails again.
The video is of the Park as I saw it thru the camera lens.
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