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.

Another Walk…


DSC_0936I took another walk yesterday
just wanting to get outside to play
out in Nature’s woods and trails
to breath the air and stretch my legs
and be at peace with who I am
enjoying the life that I have now
what little is left who will decide
it doesn’t matter, I don’t want to know
all I want is to put on a show.

I walked for miles is what it seems
as the wind was cold and blowing through me
to keep myself from feeling the cold
I walked faster with steps both long and bold
and covered the ground with amazing speed
as I felt I had the need
to finish the walk as fast as I could
to get out of the wind and out of the woods.

I thought about walking again today
but the air was still chilled and I have to say
that memories of feeling cold came back
enough that I no longer had the urge
to get outside, my soul to purge
instead I stayed in my warm house
and made no move to go outside
choosing instead to write away
planning instead for a different day.

“I love to hike…”

I’m sure I looked…well maybe not!


pedometer

My pedometer showing the number of steps I took that day.

I went hiking with my friends, George and Gloria and their two dogs Nina and Bobby yesterday at McKinney Roughs. I was busy working on the latest renovation to one of the bogs (more on that later) and George wanted to watch the local football team, UT play against Oklahoma Sooners and as we didn’t want to hike for long, decided that 4:00 pm was a good time for a very short walk.

We made our separate ways to meet at the West Trailhead at the appointed time. I arrived early and busied with payments and grabbing a map, then putting on my boots and generally making my preparations for a walk. We hadn’t walked in a while as the weather had just been too bloody hot but with it cooling down, we had decided it was time to get out there closer to Nature.

I picked a route that would take us about 2 hours to cover and would be between 3-4 miles long. The map actually puts the walk time at 1-1/2 hours but with my much slower walking plus stopping to take pictures, I knew it would be closer to the 2 hours I suggested. We set off along Roadrunner and the first thing we noticed was the trails were so dry and there had been so much horse traffic that they were mostly sand and very nice to walk on.  As we walked, the effects of no rain was very apparent as the plants were wilting and I didn’t see any flowers. Many of the trees were also showing signs of stress.

From Roadrunner, we took Coyote Road and then Deep Sandy which as the name implies walked us along the river as it flowed slowly and sedately along. Again, from the photographic angle, there was not much that caught my eye or that I had not already photographed on previous trips. Still, the walk was very pleasant and with the dogs be-bopping along and good conversation, it was very enjoyable.

The 200 year old Pecan

The 200 year old Pecan

We joined up with Pecan Bottom which brought us past the 200 plus year old Giant Pecan tree. That tree is huge and I could not help wondering what, if any, stories it could tell. In two centuries of life in this world, it just had to have seen some memorial moments.

From Pecan Bottom we moved onto Buckeye heading back to the point of origin. Buckeye turns out to be a very hilly walk and had us puffing and breathing hard for the last 400 yards. If we do this walk again and I am sure that we will,we need to do it in reverse and have the heavy climbs become downhill instead of up. Buckeye eventually brought us back to Roadrunner and to the parking lot. Gloria pointed out that the best parts of any hike is the beginning when you are fresh and excited about the walk and the last part when you know that the parking lot and the cars are very close at hand.

My friends and the dogs jumped into their car first making an offer of stopping for burgers and fries, an offer I had to decline as I knew that it would take me an hour to get home and I needed to be there in time to give my diabetic cat his insulin shot. After they drove out, I finished changing my boots, stowed my gear and decided to check my pedometer that I always carry just to see how far we had walked that day. Including whatever I had walked in the earlier part of the day when I was working on the bog, the pedometer showed that I had walked more than 7 1/2 miles. I figured that the hike probably accounted for at least 4 miles of that.

I ran into my usual problem as I exited the parking lot with the car making its own way East towards Bastrop and Starbucks instead of West towards Austin. I really need to work on that…

The trip home was uneventful and enjoyable as I slurped my latte and upon arriving back to Murmuring Creek, I stripped off and jumped into the hot tub to sooth the aching muscles and joints. It occurred to me while I was luxuriating in the 100 degree hot water that I could not remember taking the pedometer out of my shorts pocket and when I dressed in clean shorts and tee shirt, started looking for the thing. It was not in the house so I went to the car and did a quick search but could not find it anywhere. I remembered taking it out to look at it in the Parking Lot at McKinney and the thought struck me that I had probably dropped it and it was laying on the ground. I considered going back that night but common sense told me to wait until morning.

Just to be sure, I checked the house, the clothes I had taken off, the car, the back of the car and the camera bags but it was nowhere to be found and I was convinced that I must have dropped it. So before going to bed later that evening, I set my I-Phone’s alarm for 6:30 ready to wake up early and drive back to McKinney. I was afraid that if I didn’t get there early and it being Sunday when a lot of people like to hike or ride, someone would either find it or worst case scenario, run over it.

The next morning, I awoke and it was daylight so I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, I had set the alarm for pm instead of am which accounted for me waking up at my usual time of 7:30 am. I threw on some clothes, dashed cold water on my face and brushed my teeth, put the cats in their room safe from Richie, promised the dogs I would feed them when I got back and flew out the door. First though, I checked the car again just in case the tooth fairy or some other kind spirit had shown up in the night with the pedometer but to no avail. Big sigh and backed out of the garage.

Forty minutes later, I pulled into the McKinney Parking Lot after having taken care to not break too many speed limits in my haste to get there. I was in luck as there was only one horse trailer and one other vehicle before me. I hurried over to where I had parked the day before and started to methodically search the ground but to no avail. I searched several times as I have this bad habit of seeing through things even when they are really there in front of me, but no luck.

Dis-heartened, I slowly climbed back into the car and before driving off, happened to glance down at my seat belt and there in front of my eyes laying in clear view, upside down and resting on both seats, was the pedometer. I could not believe it. How had I not seen it before in the many times that I had searched the car. It was not like it was under the seat or even fallen between the seats. It was laying in clear view for all to see. All that is, except me.

I sat there for a while happy that I had found it but a little disturbed that I had not seen it sooner. How could I have missed it? Is my eyesight so bad that it didn’t register or is my brain not functioning in the recognition department. Shaking my head in utter disbelief, I started the car and took a slow and leisurely drive home. I managed to not stop at any of the Starbucks along the way preferring in fact, to drive home to my usual coffee and breakfast.

There is probably a moral to this story but I have no earthly idea what it may be. I searched several times with no luck. I woke up late but still managed to beat most of the early hikers, I finally found the pedometer right where I should have expected to find it and I even managed to get the car home without it finding its way to Starbucks and as an added bonus, I got to listen to more than an hour of Kathy Reich’s story of Deadly Decisions, read by Lorelei King.

So, I guess, all’s well that ends well…

Now where did I put my I-Phone…

Calories


Dare to take a look

I am counting calories by day
in an endless fight to keep weight at bay
I used to weigh 155 pounds when a youth was I sixty years ago.

Now I am up to one seventy-five, pounds of the worst possible kind,
not that I tried to increase my weight, it snuck up on me and I hate
that I no longer am muscle where now resides, fat of the worst possible kind.

I watch what I eat and only the best, fruit and vegetables and as for the rest
occasional white meat or turkey too,
but none too much either way for the goal is 2000 calories per day.

I eat smart at breakfast and usually skip lunch
except for fruit, maybe grapes, a small bunch
For the evening meal, I usually eat salad or maybe spaghetti
all with the idea that I try, anything I can to survive
on 2000 calories a day to keep me alive.

Alas, all of my goals I can usually succeed
with the 2000 calories diet I believe
I am licking this thing but the one I forgot
are the numbers of times I did stop, at Starbucks
for in my normal day, three to four stops go my way,
each one 150 calories more and if I am still keeping score
that’s 600 more calories that I forgot to add to the earlier goal I have set
of 2000 calories in a day for now the total becomes 2600 with nary a hope
of ever losing the weight but I do not mope.

I have an idea, more calories I’ll burn
at the gym close by for $10, I will turn
all of these calories around and sweat them out by treadmill,
by machine, by free weights, jazzersize, and yoga.

Who am I kidding, that sounds like work.
It is much easier just to take a long walk
with a dog for companionship to have somebody to talk,
with even though no response I will get but no criticism either of
the slow pace that I drag the dog along as his tail will wag
regardless of the reasons, the speed or the lag.

To hell with this dieting and exercise too,
why am I worrying, I haven’t a clue
The only thing I can think of is personal pride
to look good and feel good and maybe inside
to hope that this fitness will help to survive
and maybe help to keep me alive
for a few more years…