Buescher State Park 9-29-2019


The Lake at Buescher Park

With the weather finally cooling down albeit, not by a lot as it is still in the mid 90’s in the afternoons, I decided to get up early and drive the hour that it takes to get to Buescher State Park located in Smithville which is 55 miles from my house. I grabbed breakfast to go at the first Starbucks that I came to and listened to Audiobooks for the hour spent in the truck, on the road.

I planned to walk the rest of the trails that BJ and I hadn’t covered a couple of days previously and pulled up into the trail parking area on Park Road 1C which was my starting point. I crossed the road to get onto the Pine Gulch Trail and was immediately inundated with a large number of wildflowers of several different varieties. Absolutely beautiful and so unexpected as we had not seen any on the other side of the road or on the other trail.

A young lady passed me going in the opposite direction only she was running and I could tell it was a part of her workout routine. Hers must have been the other car in the Parking Area when I left. She was the only person that I saw on the trails. This side of the road was just as burned as was the other side although, Nature is pushing hard and there is a lot of new growth. Shade was hard to come by except here and there, where the Oak trees were growing. It looks like they had not been affected by the fire as everything around them had been burned. The Pine trees that had been replanted were growing well and in 10 years time, should become just as tall as the ones that are now just tree skeletons and strong reminders of the past. Hope I am around to see that and still walking.

There is a small pond on this trail but it too is low as it lacks water because of the drought. I remember it from a few years ago before the fire when I walked this trail. At that time I took a picture of the trees reflecting in the water. This time, not only is the water low but the trees are no longer there having burned in the fire.

Following the trail, I had to cross the Old Antioch Road for the last mile or so and then eventually meeting up with Park Road 1C where the trail ended. At one point, I came across a brand new bridge that crosses one of the many streams in the area and the construction person in me could only think of the logistics in getting the material to build this bridge to this particular area, as the trail is not very wide for any sort of vehicle. This last part of the trail is not used much and is heavily overgrown although somebody had been working recently with a weed wacker to trim a lot of the growth. I had the option of turning back and covering my tracks or stay on Park Road 1C back to where the truck was parked. Either way, the distance was the same so I opted to stay on the road for the easier walking. Several vehicles and motorcycles passed me and we exchanged waves as they sped on by.

A video of the trails and the beautiful flowers.

I arrived back in the parking area and sat for a while just relaxing and cooling down. It was a beautiful day and I felt so happy just to be out in it. Altogether, I covered 5 miles of walking. On the way back, I stopped at the lake although it is showing signs of feeling the drought that we have been having this summer as the water level was down a bit. I took pictures of the Oak trees with the Spanish Moss hanging from them, not something you see every day.

Spanish Moss

The drive home was uneventful as I happily drank my Starbucks Latte and listened to Audiobooks to be welcomed at the door by four small and very excited dogs. At least somebody loves and misses me…

Written 9/30/2019

McKinney Roughs 9-25-2019


Pecan Bottom

I went walking with my friend BJ at McKinney Roughs which is located very close to Bastrop in Cedar Creek. BJ lives in Bastrop so only had a short drive. I gave her directions to the Pope Bend Parking Area as she had never been to that one. It is located West of the main entrance and is used a lot by the horse trailers.

The hardest part of the walk is at the very beginning for about a half mile or so where the trail is on top of a hill and in fact Yaupon branches off to take the high road. We, on the other hand were going down to the flats on Buckey but as is generally the case, the trail does not go straight down. It winds about with an equal number of climbs before hitting the low ground. This was the only part of the trail that was made up of rocks and loose stones making it hard to walk on. There seemed to be an equal number of climbs in both directions both in and out and like I said, they all appeared to be up.

We were planning on taking Buckeye and then Pecan Bottom trails which brings us past the biggest tree in the park. This is a giant Pecan tree and is more than 12 feet in circumference and over 200 years old. It is beginning to show wear and tear over its long life and has lost a couple of its big branches. It is still pretty impressive though.

The Big Pecan with BJ standing in front of it.
The top of the big Pecan Tree.

We continued along Pecan Bottom and it eventually brought us to Deep Sandy which as the name implies is just that, sand. This also brought us to the river which looked a little low on water. Not surprising as we have not had any real rain in a couple of months with just the odd thundershower here and there.

There were still a few flowering plants showing off their beauty.

From there, we took Coyote Road which brought us back onto the original trail past the Large Pecan Tree and back along Buckeye to the parking lot. We passed three people on their way out and exchanged greetings. As they hadn’t stopped, I had to be content with a rear view picture.

Other hikers

We sat on a bench in the parking lot continuing with our conversation which had pretty much been non stop for the entire walk. We covered a whole realm of items and solved a few of the Worlds problems while we were at it. Interestingly enough, not once did we discuss the Pond Society, which in the past, has been the topic of many conversations.

BJ took her leave and drove off and I sat there for a while thinking about our conversations and the walk we had just completed. I gloried in the beauty of Mother Nature and the pleasure she brings to people like BJ and myself. Even though it was hot with the temperature hovering around 95 degrees, there was so much shade that it was not too uncomfortable. Altogether, we covered almost 5 miles of a very enjoyable few hours spent out in the woods.

Written 9/26/2019

Buescher State Park – First Trip Jan 23, 2015


Pine Tree at Buescher State ParkI originally meant to hike the Bastrop State Park but arrived late in the afternoon and opted to just drive around the park to see what wonders it might hold. It is a very sad sight to see the beautiful pines mostly gone in the wildfire of 2011 and it made me feel very depressed as the view didn’t change. Miles and miles of charred trees standing like ghost statues as mementos to the fire.

I was able to drive around the loop for free as long as I didn’t get out of my car and I was under a time limit given me by the Park Ranger. I had no intention of doing anything except to view the damage but I did discover that I could drive on to Buescher State Park on Park Road 1-c. I completed the loop and then took the road to Buescher Park, a distance of 11 miles. On the way, I ran out of the fire desolation and the trees and greenery were again abundant with a lot of the Pine trees mixed in with the others. I noticed a couple of trail heads among all of this greenery marking the trails that ran through the area.True to its word, the road ran right into the Buescher Park and on the way out, I stopped at the Guard Station and picked up a couple of maps and then drove home and made plans to visit the Buescher Park instead on a different day.

Two days later found me driving towards Smithville and back to the Park the entrance of which is off Highway 153 just outside of Smithville. For a nominal fee of 4 dollars and after a couple of questions to the Park Ranger, I hopped back into my car and headed back up Park Road 1-c to the first trail head marked on the map. Pulling into the parking area, the first thing I noticed was the marvellous view from the overlook that was the parking area. In the far distance, I could see the burned trees standing like statues on top of the hill, several miles away.

I opted to walk a 5 mile loop that led me up one side of Park Road 1-c and the after crossing the road, back  down to my starting point coming out at the Virginia Harris Cockrell Cancer Research Center at Science Park, just across the road from the parking lot.

It was a great day to be walking and I passed a few others who obviously had drawn the same conclusion. The hike was a mix of scenery but was nearly always under the shade of trees of different varieties. The trail was not a bit difficult and the surface changed from red rock, to pebble stones and then to plain old dirt as I changed elevations. There were a couple of new bridges and at one point a sign warning of a dangerous curve ahead. The trail is open to bikers but it did not appear that it was used by too many. I didn’t see a single one and there were no signs underfoot that any had passed recently. The recent rains had filled the very small stream in one of the gullies but it was really not much more than a ditch and presented no difficulties.

From a photographic point of view, there is a lot of monotony in the scenery and it was difficult to get much variety in the pictures. I spent a couple of hours and took well over 100 pictures some of which are shown below. There is one whimsical picture of little stacks of rocks that some enterprising, and probably young person, had taken the time to build.The class I recently attended at Precision Camera has helped me tremendously in getting things in focus and making better choices of subjects. On the way home, I was drawn by a beautiful sunset and just had to stop the car to take a couple of pictures.

I plan on going back to Buescher State Park in a couple of days to hike the long trail.

Another Hike at McKinney Roughs


Bobbie

Bobbie on the trail

Along with my two friends George and Gloria with their dogs, Nina and Bobbie, we went back to McKinney Roughs this time to hike to the Pecan Tree that was outlined on the travel guide as being almost 200 years old. It was situated on one of the trails we had not yet covered.

This time, in order to find a trail that was a little closer to the Pecan Tree, we stopped by the Trail Head to the Park off Pope Bend Road. This is a very popular entry for the horseback riders and while we were there, at least four trailers were in various stages of loading or unloading the horses. Some had finished their ride and were taking care of the horses by giving them a cool down bath with a hose pipe provided for that purpose while others were in the process of saddling up.

Two of the horses

Two of the horses

I had a couple of horses in my younger days and very much enjoyed trail riding with them. It seems nowadays that the horses have either grown much bigger or my memories of my riding days have so faded into the past that the size of my horses has shrunk along with the memories. Mine were nowhere near as big. Or maybe it’s me that has shrunk along with my memory.

Trail

More of the Trail

My friends arrived and we set off along the Buckeye trail heading to the Pecan Tree which we knew was no more than a couple of miles or so in. It was very pleasant walking as it was a little overcast and the trails were all soft going on sandy loam. They contoured  up and down and even though it was only a month or so ago from last time we were there, the vegetation has already grown tall with everything so green. The flowers were out in number and it was wonderful taking in the colors.

Even the dogs had an extra spring in their step as they chased back and forth enjoying the smells. They really love it on the trails. At one point, we came across a wood snake about three feet long and the dogs didn’t want anything to do with it at all. Funny how they know what is not good for them…By the way, that is the first snake I have seen in all of the many hikes I have been on. I guess I make enough noise for them to get out-of-the-way.

Pecan Tree

Pecan Tree

We arrived at the Pecan Tree and as the sign states, it is over two hundred years old with a girth of fifty-eight inches and almost twelve feet in circumference. It looks old and a little worse for wear but I hope I look that good when I reach that age…I tried to take a picture of it and even laying flat on my back could not do it justice. I ended up changing to a wide-angle lens which did the trick and allowed me to get more of the tree into the picture. Gloria stands about five feet three to give you an idea of the size of the tree. We rested for a while enjoying the tree and then went on our way back along the trail. Turns out there are two more Pecan Trees almost of the same size as we continued along the way. Gloria climbed into the fork of one of them to give the size a bit of perspective. Just wonderful to see trees that old and big still living.

Branches of the Pecan Tree

Branches of the Pecan Tree

Pecan Tree Plaque

Pecan Tree Plaque

We followed the trail along Pecan Bottom and back along Deep Sandy to Coyote Road. These were all trails we had not hiked before until we hit Road Runner which we recognized from before. The terrain had changed underfoot and now, much of the trail was covered in pebble stones and small rocks. Much harder to walk on.

On the way back along Road Runner, there is a short branch off to the Overlook at Meditation Point which gives a good view into the valley and the river and is one of the highest points in the park. There were a couple of buzzards floating in the wind and it seemed they were directly overhead and very close. It’s wonderful to watch them as they find the air currents and swoop and glide apparently almost without effort.

View of the River

View of the River

We finally arrived back to the Trail Head at Pope Bend Road. Several of the trailers had already left and the parkway was a little deserted. Altogether, we had hiked about five and a half miles, a nice comfortable hike. We burned off almost five hundred calories and had the good fortune to have stimulating company, good weather and the opportunity to get close to Nature.

George and Gloria along with Nina and Bobby headed home while I sat for a while just enjoying the solitude before de-touring into Bastrop to the local Starbucks to feed my one and only bad habit once more. Altogether a very fun and pleasant day.