McKinney Roughs 7-24-2019


I called my friend BJ to see if she might be interested in taking a walk at our favorite place, McKinney Roughs and was pleased that she said she would walk with me. It’s not that I mind walking alone but it is nice to have company occasionally and someone to talk to. She only agreed to walk if we kept it down to a reasonable distance complaining of tiredness from cleaning out her bog on one of her ponds and I told her we could do that.

I arrived first and per my usual routine, changed into my hiking boots and geared up ready to go. We met at the main office and paid our two dollars and with a quick look at the map, set out along the along Woodland which is one of the interior trails. It, in turn, linked up to the Ridge completing a short loop. There was a lot of shade as the pictures show and it was very pleasant walking and of course, having company really helped. We chatted about everything, the world in general, life, the Pond Society and the upcoming seminar that both BJ and Sam will be presenting at the next meeting. We talked about everyday events, our neighbors, bog cleaning and of course Trump. We both have the same opinions of him and common courtesy prevents me from writing what they are for fear of offending the readers.

The base of the tree

Along one of the trails, we came across what looked like two trees that had grown together. What made it more interesting was that we could not see that the smaller tree had any foliage but it was definitely very much alive.

The top of the tree(s)

After walking the above mentioned trails, we wandered around a bit and found ourselves back at the Recreation Area and I was telling BJ about the kids that were here the previous summer and all of the fun they had. I had fun too just filming them and their antics as they climbed ropes and slid down the zip lines set up for them. Oh, to be young again although I would not want to be a kid in this modern day and age. Too much of a challenge with nothing simple anymore not a bit like when I was growing up, World War 2 notwithstanding. This area was quiet today with no activity going on. The Red Bird of Paradise were putting on quite a show. We passed one group of flowers named Skeletonleaf Goldeneye but most of them are finished for the year

We wanted to get onto Foxtail but for one reason and another, we kept picking the wrong trails so we eventually gave up and headed back to the Parking Lot. We actually did OK as far as the distance that we walked covering 4.3 miles. The trails were easy with not too many hills, the trees shaded us from the sun with the temperatures hovering around the 90 degree mark and the company was good. Who could ask for more?

Written 7/25/2019

McKinney Roughs 6-22-2019


The wildflowers are still in bloom.

I had the urge to get out and about and as it is now summertime in Texas, hiking in the heat is one of the joys of living here. We don’t get much in the way of a winter in Austin but we make up for it in the summertime as we can guarantee that it is only a matter of time before the temperature hits the one hundred degree mark. From then on, it is anyone’s guess as to how many hundred degree days we will get. The record was set back in 2011 when there were 79 recorded 100 degree days. That was a hot summer.

Believe it or not, life still goes on even with all of that heat. We make adjustments and do things like hiking earlier in the day which is usually several degrees cooler. As the temperature rises, the body adjusts with it making it possible to hike. Most of us though, choose not to hike in the extreme heat of the day. I am one of those fortunate or unfortunate guys, depending on your point of view, that perspires a lot and at the end of any heavy physical exertions, am thoroughly soaked through requiring that I change my clothes before jumping in my truck to drive home. I don’t notice while I am walking as I wrap a bandana around my forehead and wear a wide brimmed hat with a neck cover that captures most of the sweat and stops it from dripping into my eyes. I take heed of my Dermatologist and slap on vast amounts of sunscreen otherwise she lectures me at my next visit. Like everything else, if we want to do stuff, we have to make the necessary adjustments.

Such was the case in my most recent walk at McKinney Roughs. It was already ninety degrees when I started out and I chose to hike a trail that is named Yaupon. One reason that I chose it is because it has a lot of tree cover giving me a plenty of shade which really helps. The guide says that Yaupon is two point seven miles long and I knew that it was an out and back hike as the trail that completes the loop has been washed out in a couple of places and is no longer connected. I don’t normally like to cover the same ground twice but as someone pointed out to me, you get to see the same view from two different directions which is true as several of the pictures show the same view from both directions.

The trail has had a lot of work done to it in several different places due to washouts and there were still a couple of wet areas requiring one to carefully pick the footing. Generally speaking though, it was good walking. I passed one gentleman who was heading back in. We chatted for a bit and he tried to convince me that there was more breeze up ahead but somehow, I doubted him although I just nodded my head and passed some remark. I had been following fresh horse tracks and wondered how soon before I would see the horse and rider as I mentioned before, this trail is an out and back trail. Sure enough as I rounded a bend, there was the horse and rider approaching me. Following the trail etiquette, I stepped off to allow them to pass calling out to the rider and asking her if I could get their photograph. As with most people, she was only too willing to pose and the horse just took it for granted that of course he should be in the picture. The horse’s name was Troy but I didn’t get the riders name.

One beautiful horse.

They moved on and I continued until I reached the water tower which is about a half a mile or so from the trails end in Pope Bend Trailhead. I figured that I had gone far enough and turned back to retrace my steps. As with most hikes, those same hills were much steeper going back and the distance much further but I eventually made it back to the parking lot and my truck. I must have taken longer than I anticipated as when I got back, the Office was closed and the parking lots were pretty empty. That was a shame as on the last trip here, I had discovered that they carried chocolate ice cream on a stick and I had been promising myself I would treat myself to one. Oh well, I am probably better off not eating the stuff but darn, it sure would have gone down very nicely.

All in all, I covered seven and a half miles and was really dragging by the time I got back. I carry both an Iphone and a pedometer and they both said close to the same thing. I wonder how the Map makers measure the trail distances as I always walk more than the map says. Normally, I use the park’s restrooms to change but as they were closed, I had to get out of the soaked clothes so ended up doing a strip tease in the Parking Lot. Luckily for me, it was empty and there was no one around which was probably a good thing as if anyone had caught sight of my eighty three year old body, it would have turned them off the opposite sex for the rest of their life.

I drove back and was warmly welcomed by four anxious and excited little dogs. At least, they love me sexy and sweaty body and all…

Written 6/23/2019

Time to Start Walking Again


The blown over Cypress tree.

I was sitting at my work table looking out of the window and reminiscing about life in general and my life specifically. For the immediate future, with the Pond Tour out of the way, there is nothing major coming up on the horizon that I need to be worrying about at least, nothing that I know of. We all know how that can change in an instant especially if one is an animal lover and I have four dogs and over two hundred fish to look after. Hopefully though, Nature will be kind and not present me with any animal problems.

I did get in the big pond and spent a couple of hours trying to put the Cypress tree that was the subject of an earlier blog, into a bigger and deeper pot in an effort to stop it from blowing over. It is tall enough now that it is top heavy and with the little pot that contains the roots not being of a suitable weight to hold it secure, tends to blow over pretty frequently.

It was rather a comedy of errors as I tried to wrestle the tree out of the shallow pot but unfortunately, it would not budge. It is jammed in their very solidly and the only way is to literally cut the pot off. So, I gave up on that idea and decided to try to place the entire pot into the bigger pot. I had to weight the big pot down with rocks to keep it stable while I tried to wrastle the smaller pot into it. Remember, that this was taking place with all of us, me, the tree and the pot standing in the pond in three and a half feet of water. Nothing would keep still as the water made everything buoyant. First the new pot would float away and then after I recaptured it, the tree in the existing pot would slide off it’s block foundation and into the water requiring that I struggle it upright, once again. Even though everything was easy to move whilst in the water, when I tried to lift the tree out of the water and into the bigger pot, it suddenly became a hundred pounds heavier. After a couple of hours of total frustration, I gave up on the entire idea and placed the tree back onto it’s original set of blocks and tied it off. Talk about a waste of time. It really is a two person job and as there is only one of me….I will add an additional couple of tie-off’s to try to stabilize it.

There is still a lot of dead stuff that I raked into heaps that need to be put on the compost pile plus I really need to get into the shallow pond and cut down a lot of the growth that has happened there. I think that one reason the Heron has stayed away is because it cannot see the water in the pond it is so grown over. This has been an amazing year for overall growth. Everything and I mean everything has just grown without any limitations and I have spent more time cutting stuff back this year than ever before. The one frost that we had came early in November and we had a very mild winter making for lots of early growth and it has not slowed since. To add to the perfect storm effect, excuse the pun, we have had a lot of rain and have not had any abnormally high temperatures with the highest so far a mere ninety two degrees. That will change as eventually it will reach a hundred degrees, hopefully later rather than sooner.

At the moment it is raining and we are in the middle of some pretty heavy thunderstorms including hailstones. With any luck, there will not be too much wind and the tree will remain upright. Which brings me to the subject and title of this piece, “Time to start walking again”. I haven’t been out on a real walk for quite some time and I really need to get out there not only for the exercise but also to take pictures and have something to write about. You can probably guess by this blog, I am almost desperate for subject matter. I hope that I am not turning into one of those bloggers that writes two lines and adds a picture and calls it a blog. I certainly hope not.

Written 6/6/2019

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

First Walk of the Year


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As the weather has warmed up a bit and needing to clear my head out in the fresh Texas air, I decided to go for a short walk at Reimer’s Ranch, a place I have hiked many times before.

I don’t know if it is a mandatory question or not but the guy at the gate asked me if I was over sixty two as Seniors get to walk the Travis County Parks for free. That made me feel good about myself and even better when I proudly declared to be eighty two as he waved me through with a big smile.

I opted to park in the  Lot that ramps down to the beach area which is the second lot as you drive in and headed down onto the lower trail. I chose to walk alongside the Pedernales River which doesn’t have a lot of water in it at this time of the year. It won’t be too long before the Spring rains will have it flowing at a goodly pace. Even so, I didn’t see any river activity and as I was in no particular hurry, took several shots of the trail and the surrounding rocks. I ran into a guy and we chatted for a bit. He dragged out his cell phone to show me a picture, of which he was particularly proud of a giant Centipede or maybe it was a Millipede as I don’t know the difference. Anyway it was big and was at least six inches long. We moved on and there was nothing major that caught my eye but I was still glad to be out and about. Needless to say, I didn’t see the Osprey or even any Buzzards. No idea where the Buzzards were hiding as usually there are bunches of them swooping and gliding in the sky above.

One thing is very obvious from the pictures is that the Park definitely has on it’s winter coat. Almost everything was brown and the only occasional green spot was  from one of the deciduous trees. or an occasional shrub. I only walked about a mile before turning around to make tracks back to my car. It felt good to be walking again and I promised myself that I need to get out again and soon.

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The pictures above are all Panoramic made up of several different camera shots

Written 2/6/2018

 

Town Lake in Austin 8-6-2017


DSC_0580I hadn’t been out for either a hike or a photographic trip in over a week and wanted desperately to get back out again. One reason was to fill my mind with other thoughts as I grieved over the loss of my little dog, Richie and I had to get my mind back onto regular things. I didn’t want to take a long hike as the weather is still so hot and very uncomfortable so a short walk on the Town Lake trails seemed like a very good idea.

I opted to park in the lot next to the Zachary Scott Theatre Center off Lamar Boulevard and wander along that part of the trail as far as the bridge over the creek on Barton Springs Road. As it was a weekend, the trail was very busy with runners, cyclists, people with dogs, people without dogs, lovers walking hand in hand and families pushing young kids in strollers, the obvious end result of lovers walking hand in hand.

You name it and every kind was out on the trail.

Turning my attention to the Lake, I saw that it was filled with people in canoes of various types and on surf boards all paddling around in different directions as they enjoyed the Texas summer day on the Lake. Many of the metal canoes had the name of a rental company printed on them. Others were probably owned by the people paddling them. There were dogs everywhere either swimming alongside or actually in the canoes or on the paddleboards. Many of the people, especially those of the female gender were dressed in the barest minimum of skimpy bikinis with lots of flesh showing.  Many of the guys had their shirts off to catch the sun on their bodies and although I didn’t see any ladies in bikinis who shouldn’t have worn them, I did see many of the gentlemen whose portly shapes indicated to much good living and not enough exercise. Paddling a canoe around in circles barely counts as exercise and the amount of visible flab is hardly the way to attract the ladies.

I wandered along taking pictures and wishing that I had brought the camera with the telescopic lens with me as well as the one that I carried to zoom in on some of those long range shots. I reached the bridge where the trail crosses Barton Creek and took several pictures of the view into the city and back up the creek in the reverse direction. This part of the Creek was very popular with lots of people in canoes of all shapes and sizes and the inevitable paddle boards. I even saw a pair of swans who, apart from keeping a wary eye out, totally ignored all of the activity going on around them. The people were good to as most gave the swans a wide berth. Interesting how Nature eventually blends together given the right circumstances.

I passed one very hot looking policeman and chatted to him for a bit. When I said that it was a bit warm, he remarked that it was overtime so was worth getting a little hot. I agreed and moved on. I wandered back along the same trail to where my car was parked taking a few more pictures here and there as I went. All in all, an interesting afternoon.

The total trail length is 10 miles and can be broken into smaller segments by crossing any of the bridges to complete the loop and there are several different places to park to gain access to the trail. On any given day, there are always people out on this trail.

The slideshow is of the different views of the Lake  especially of the people in the watercraft.

Town Lake 8-6-2017 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

Hiking Yaupon at McKinney Roughs 10-11-2016


dsc_4139-panoI went back to McKinney Roughs to walk Yaupon which is one of the hardest trails to hike at the park. It’s harder than Pine Ridge with all of its steps mainly due to the terrain which is like a switchback, up and down turn a corner and another uphill. In some places, the trail is made up of loose pebble stones which by themselves are difficult to walk on. Add them to a hill and its twice as hard whether going up or down.

In theory, Yaupon does complete a full circle IF the trail at Roadrunner and Coyote Road were open. Unfortunately, since the last major flood, the trails are washed out by the river and the circuit is broken and not passable. Knowing this, my plan was to walk Yaupon starting at the Main Office Parking Lot, walk to the Pope Bend Trailhead and then turn back and retrace my steps completing my own little circuit.

The weather was cool enough that the hike was enjoyable at least from the comfort point of view. That still didn’t change the difficulty of the trail but at least was one less thing to consider. Another young couple started the trail ahead of me and judging by the binoculars they were both wearing, were bird enthusiasts. They took the the Coyote Road trail where it branched off at Bobcat Ridge while I continued along my planned route of Yaupon. After that, I had the trail to myself in both directions for the duration of the walk.

The picture at  the top of the page is a panorama of three pictures. The rest of the pictures below are of the Yaupon trail.

All in all, it was another very enjoyable walk even though I did feel a little tired at the end of it. Altogether, I covered 8.5 miles and finished it off with a walk around HEB for some grocery shopping which brought the days total to 9.0 miles. Not bad for an old fart…