Sunday, April 29, 2018
Guadalupe River State Park, near Boerne, TX
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Warm, partly cloudy, low 80s
3.5 miles give or take
Another new state park for us! We have been wanting to get out to this park for a while and I’m glad we finally made it. We started off at the “Discovery Center” and then combined a few trails for about 3 miles total. The dogs were very happy and are both such good hikers. The prickly pears and other cacti were blooming nicely. There was a nice view of the river from above as well.
We then headed down to the river to cool off and eat lunch. There were a ton of people enjoying the river, including some not well-behaved dogs, so we went pretty far down the river trail to find a spot. The first spot I chose ended up harboring a bee hive, which sent me into flashbacks of when I was a little kid in Pennsylvania and got stung about 100 times. Luckily I wasn’t allergic. I made an immediate u-turn and went back up the river trail in the opposite direction before finding a semi-quiet spot to put our feet in the water and eat. It’s amazing how good food tastes after even a short hike in decent heat. I can’t even imagine the hunger and then satiation that thru-hikers experience.
After the river, we took another short trail a half mile or so more through the moss-covered oaks and then headed back to the car. On the way home we stopped at Sonic and got a slush and a limeade to cap off the warm day.
Sunday, April 8, 2018
Grelle Recreation Area
Cloudy, 50s-60s, giving way to sun and 70s
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Another new trail for us. It turns out there are a lot of trails within the LCRA parks that aren’t well known or traversed. Grelle Recreation Area is right near Muleshoe Bend, which we hiked a few weeks ago, but I liked this trail much better. It was a true hiking trail (not a mountain bike trail) and had lots of ups and downs that made for a semi-challenging experience, especially with our relative lack of hiking, and therefore fitness, as of late.
The original plan was to hike on Saturday morning, but a random cold front came through on Friday night and temperatures went from the 70s on Friday to the low 40s all day Saturday, so we pushed the hike until Sunday when things got a little closer to normal.
We drove out in Courtney’s new car, a Tesla Model 3, which is certainly not a normal car to take out to the trail, but we figured it would hold up on gravel roads and save us gas money. Moreover, there is just something about taking an electric car to go hiking that seems right.
The trail started as your typical rocky Texas trail, but eventually gave way to more traditional tread and even soft dirt in some places along the ridge, which challenged our ankle strength. The dogs did great for the most part, though Biff pulled a fake injury at one point, causing me to carry him for a couple hundred yards until he miraculously recovered. What a goof.
As we climbed up the ridge and hit the Mustang Ridge trail, the sun decided to show itself and the temperatures rose, which was a welcome occurrence and made us shed our jackets and stow them away in the pack. Towards the end of the hike, the sky was clear blue and the trees showed their normal Texas spring time selves.
What a great day to get out and enjoy the trail and life in general.
I generally don’t like it when blogs have all the text first and all the photos second, but that’s how I did this one. Deal with it.
Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25, 2018
South Llano River State Park – Fawn Trail and Golden Cheeked Warbler Trail Combo + River Trail
Upper 60s, partly cloudy, perfect
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Around 7 miles total
Oh, look at that. I still have a blog! That’s right. Gotta remember to update this thing more often.
Honestly, we just didn’t do much hiking the past couple of months. Family stuff and life stuff got in the way. There was maybe one short hike in there that I didn’t bother blogging, but finally here’s one I wanted to document.
We are trying to hit the state parks in Texas that we haven’t done already. South Llano River fits the bill. It is about a 3 hour drive from Austin, right near Junction, Texas on I-10. So kinda the middle of nowhere. I’m going to throw it in the Other Texas category. It’s more or less on the border of the hill country and the desert, so the plants and wildlife are interesting. Very spiky.
We headed out with the pups on Saturday morning and stopped in Fredericksburg on the way for lunch at a place called Woerner Warehouse. We got sandwiches to go and they were HUGE. Great call on that and we will be going back there next time we go to F’burg.
Headed on to Junction and drove by Texas Tech University at Junction (who knew?) before making our way to the park. There were only a few spots left, as the Cub Scouts had moved in the night before, like they always do. I guess it’s good that they are getting out in nature, but it does make it difficult for us adults who have to work on Fridays to get decent camping spots.
We did end up getting a semi-secluded site and each site has a covered table, which is unique to this park, in my experience anyway.
We set up camp quickly. We realized this is the first time since our trip to Sequoia back in September of 2016 that we have actually used our backpacking tent. We did bring the larger car camping tent in case Finn didn’t fit our sleeping arrangements, but it worked out fine.
After setting up camp we decided to head down to the river trail, but soon found out that the area by the river is closed after 3pm in March because it is a wild turkey roost area, so we headed back and spent the rest of the evening playing trivial pursuit and reading. The sunset was nice and the stars were out soon after. South Llano River State Park is a dark sky park so the stars were brilliant.
We woke up with the sun and Court made wonderful breakfast tacos with egg whites and veggie sausage. This was also the first time we used the skillet we bought way back when we first started purchasing gear. Lots of firsts this trip. After breakfast we packed everything up before hitting the trails.
The trails out here are pretty much all old jeep tracks, as this was a ranch back in the day. They are more for function and less for aesthetics, but they do the job. They are your typical Texas rocky trails that are ubiquitous throughout the hill country. We took the Fawn trail and then connected with the Golden-Cheeked Warbler trail to make a nice loop a little over 5 miles long.
When we finished the loop we went down to the River Trail that we had attempted to hike the day before. We did actually catch a glimpse of a wild turkey and the river and lake views were pretty as well.
After a total of around 7 miles the pups were pooped and we drove back home. On the way back they got some good naps.
Monday, January 15, 2018
Hike: Commons Ford Ranch
Weather: partly cloudy, pleasant, mid 60s
Hikers: Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Length: 2.1 miles
New trail today! We went out to Commons Ford Park, which apparently used to be a ranch, and did a short hike up to the waterfall. Today is MLK day and we both had the day off work, so we took the opportunity to get the first hike of the year in. The weather was amazing. It felt like spring, but there is a winter storm blowing in tonight, so even better that we got to enjoy the day.
This was a nice little trail along a creek that feeds into the Colorado River. The trail is your typical Texas Hill Country trail: rocky and surrounded by cedars. Just a half mile in or so, we came to the waterfall, which is the main highlight of this trail, but it wasn’t flowing very much. Still pretty though.
After passing the waterfall, we climbed up and along a ridge.
Someone had set up a lean-to just off the trail, but it didn’t look like it had been used in a while, if ever.
We came down off the ridge and found a restored prairie that led down to the river.
There was a boathouse and dock at the water’s edge which we scouted out and then headed back up the creek towards the car.
On the way we saw the foundation of an old house that I’d like to think was from the old ranch as well.
Court especially liked this trail and I hope to hike it again when the water is flowing better.
Saturday, December 30, 2017
Hike: Buescher State Park – near Smithville, TX
Weather: chilly, overcast, low 50s
Hikers: Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Length: 4.4 miles
We went out to my parent’s cabin near La Grange for New Year’s Eve, as usual, and decided to go hike in Buescher and see how the trails are recovering from the Hidden Pines Fire in October 2015. They aren’t completely open yet, but we were able to hike about three quarters of the main trail.
It was really fascinating to see the life cycle of the forest and how it is recovering. Little saplings were everywhere amongst the dead and burned trees. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.
Saturday and Sunday, November 25-26, 2017
Inks Lake State Park near Burnet, TX
Valley Spring Creek Trail and Devil’s Backbone Trail
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Since Finn had done a couple of regular hikes, it was time to get him out on his first overnight. We headed out on Thanksgiving weekend to one of our favorite state parks, Inks Lake.
We arrived around 2:30pm and set up camp, then drove down to the other side of the park to check out the sunset over Devil’s Waterhole.
I had the fire all set up and ready to light when we got back. Dinner was sausage wraps grilled over the fire and a bad attempt at homemade potato salad. The sausages were good at least. Harry Potter trivia was played (yes, nerds) while waiting on dinner and we sat around the fire for a bit before bed. Finn didn’t quite get the fire, I don’t think.
We headed to bed before hiker midnight (9pm) and planned to get up and hike early.
It didn’t get too cold overnight and the pups did well in the tent. We woke up a little after sunrise and made some awesome coffee (Jiva Cubes + Copper Cow Coffee Milk + Sugar Portables) along with my first ever Mountain House scrambled egg breakfast, which was pretty decent, for dehydrated eggs. I don’t think I could do it every day, but it certainly worked for a single overnight.
We hiked the northern part of the park around Devil’s Waterhole, which wasn’t a super long hike, a little over 3 miles, but enjoyable nonetheless. It started off scrambling up the gneiss and then wound around to a nice view of the lake.
The trail then descended into a forested hollow and met up with the park road at the end. I will say that the last quarter mile or so was full of stickers and was hell on the dog’s feet. We had to stop every 50 yards or so to pick them out of their paws. But they were troopers.
We retraced our steps, did the other half of the Valley Spring Creek loop, and headed back to town. As always, a wonderful time out at Inks.
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Lake Georgetown – Goodwater Trail – Cedar Breaks Trail Head, Georgetown, TX
Ian, Biff, Finn
This is one of my favorite hikes in Central Texas. We woke up early to hit the trail, as a cold front had come through overnight and the weather would be great for a hike.
The parking lot was actually pretty full, compared to other times I’ve been here, but the trail didn’t seem that crowded. I will say this trail is extremely rocky, which means the majority of the time you are looking at your feet instead of at the scenery, which is not ideal.
We went past the longhorns on the way in, but they were pretty far from the fence. This would change on the way back.
We went about 4 miles in and Biff looked up and gave me the impression that it was time to head back, so we stopped for a snack and water break and turned around. On the way back past the longhorns, there was an issue.
I didn’t turn my phone for the videos. Deal with it.
We continued back to the car and the total hike was almost 8 miles. The pups were tired, but I think they enjoyed it. Always nice to get out here to Lake Georgetown. Methinks an overnight might be in order here this winter.