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…

Pedernales Falls State Park 1-25-2016.


DSC_1061I was sitting indoors finishing up the blog from the walks over the weekend and looking out of the window at a beautifully sunny day. The temperature was already 60 degrees and was forecast to reach almost 68 for the day. Way too nice a day to be sitting indoors.

I finished the blog and walked the garden looking at the ponds just to make sure that everything came through the night OK. I changed out a couple of filters and looked at the pathways that needed raking again. I had this inward struggle going on, rake the leaves or hit the trails  and of course the trails won without too much argument on my part.

I have just about exhausted Reimers Ranch for a while at least until the springtime when things start to green up and I had just finished walking at McKinney so I decided to go back to Pedernales Falls State Park as there are still a lot of trails that I have not covered. Packing the usual water and fruit, I said goodbye to the dogs and gave them a treat and had to tear myself away from their pleading brown eyes as I walked out of the door. Somehow, I don’t think dachshunds with their little legs are made for trail walking over any distance or tough terrain.

DSC_1081Pedernales Falls is about 27 miles from my house and a very pleasant drive. It took me about 30 minutes or so and I arrived at the Park around 1:00 pm. I chatted to the Guard about which trails to take and he pointed out a couple he thought I would enjoy. I thanked him for his help and drove to the Wolf Mountain Parking area where I would start my hike. The usual preparations followed putting on my boots, strapping on my camera belt and grabbing my walking poles and I was ready to go.

I was planning on walking the Juniper Ridge Trail which would have been about 9 miles but almost immediately after starting, I took the wrong trail and found myself following the North Loop Equestrian Trail. Looking at the map, I could see that it would take me a different route and as it was still a new trail to me, decided to keep on going. This trail follows the West boundary fence of the park property and it was on my right side for a great deal of the walk until the trail veered off way up by the Park entrance. I took the Madrone Trail at that point figuring that it would lead me back to either Juniper Ridge or the South Loop Equestrian Trail. I met a group of 5 older people like me, coming in the opposite direction all looking like they were very comfortable on the trail. These were the only people I saw the entire afternoon.

When we reached that branch in the trail where Madrone met South Loop Equestrian and Juniper Ridge, I opted to take South Loop Equestrian Trail as IDSC_1088 thought it would be shorter than Juniper Ridge. It probably is shorter but I never got to find out as at the point that two trails came together, I managed to go in the completely opposite direction and instead of travelling North, headed towards the East. I followed the trails for what seemed like hours and found myself back on the trail leading to the road. The trouble was the road was the one outside of the park, Pedernales Falls Road. I didn’t realize my mistake and started walking what I hoped was the right direction towards the Wolf Mountain car park. I walked about a mile all the while growing a little more concerned that I was going in the wrong direction. I turned back and started to retrace my steps.

A car passed me going in the same direction and then it turned and came back towards me. A very nice lady said that she noticed me walking and figured I had gotten lost and asked me if I wanted a ride. I very gratefully got in although rather awkwardly with my camera belt and walking poles getting in the way for comfort. She told me that her husband had been the Park Superintendent before he retired last year. He was conducting a seminar and she was stopping in to visit him is why she was even on the road. Imagine my surprise when she turned right into the Park Entrance to take me to the Wolf Mountain car park, I was that far off with my bearings. Kinda worrisome in a way that I could get that much turned around.  I thanked her profusely for stopping to give me a ride as she went on her way. Lucky for me that she came along as it was already getting dark and even more luck that she was aware of the park and the hikers and figured out I was lost. By my reckoning, I was probably still 2 miles from my car if I kept following the road.

DSC_1124I changed into my shoes and stowed my camera and gear and sat there for a while thinking about my error. It really bothered me that I had got so turned around just by making a wrong choice of trail and vowed to be more careful in the future. Again, the lack of trail signs did not help the situation. For instance, there is one for the Short Loop which I can’t even find on the map which is one that I ended up taking. I had crossed it earlier in the hike but it lead me to the Pedernales Falls Road (the wrong road). One thing is for certain, I will make better use of the compass on my smart phone in the future instead of relying on my instinct.

I drove home in the dark and made my usual stop at Starbucks in Bee Cave before heading the last 5 miles to my house. Altogether, I walked 12 miles and burned over 750 calories which gave me the excuse to finish up the remains of the chocolate cake from the party. After spending time in the hot tub easing the aches out of my muscles, I relaxed for the evening with my dogs sitting on the couch by my side, pleased to see me and having forgiven me for not taking them with me. Oh, the undying love of a dog. There is nothing to equal it.

Pedernales Falls State Park 1-25-2016 (Enhanced) from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

 

Hiking is good for the soul…


DSC_1062I love to hike this much is true
one of my most favorite things to do
to get outside and walk a trail
communing with Nature and all the while
exercising in the best possible way
breathing fresh air and striding along
wearing my boots and using my poles
taking pictures is one of my goals
to record the sights and portray in words
sights that I view completely free
to share the walks along with me
next to walking the thing I like most
is to write in my blog my words to post
along with the pictures that others may see
and enjoy the views along with me
as out on the trails as things unfold
the pictures show as the words told
of wondrous views, nature at her best
showing off her beauty while in my small way
I write the words and pictures display
for others to see on any day.