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.
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Inga’s Trail – Austin, TX
Ian, Biff, Finn
pleasant, low 70s
about 2 miles
I took the dogs out solo on Saturday to Bull Creek after Finn’s last vet appointment. He now has all his shots and is 100% ready to take on the world.
There was actually a lot more water than I expected. It was hard to take many photos because I had my hands full with both pups. It was a pretty morning though.
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Greenbelt – 360 Trail Head
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
HUMID, warm, upper 70s
While it was nice to get out on the Greenbelt for the first time in a while, the humidity was just horrendous, especially for November. It felt like walking with a wet paper towel over your face, while at the same time having to fend off mosquitos. Not the most enjoyable feeling, but the dogs enjoyed it.
This section of the trail is very pretty, even if there was zero water. It skirts along some rocky cliffs for much of the way. We’ve done this trail a million times, so here’s photos.
Sunday, October 29, 2017
Mount Lakeway Trail – Lakeway, TX
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Sunny, warm, mid 80s
We added a new member to our family in the past few weeks and today was his first hike. Finnigan is a Hurricane Harvey rescue that we got from the PAWS shelter in Kyle, near Courtney’s office. He is a hound mix and is almost 6 months old, so still very much a puppy. His full name is Finnigan Tom Petty. He was given the Tom Petty moniker at the shelter, as they got him right around the time Tom Petty died, and we decided to keep it as his middle name.
He is a great hiker and does very well on leash. This was the first of many hikes and he will most certainly be a good backpacker too.
I also started to use Google Photos as my main photo repository, which should make it way easier to edit and upload photos. It’s time to up the blog game, so over the next few weeks I’m hoping to make this whole place more navigable and prettier to look at.
Mount Lakeway is a trail I found on Alltrails.com and it turned out to be a nice little trail. It starts out on a trail system called Canyonlands Trails in a newer subdivision out in Lakeway.
The trails starts out meandering along a canyon rim and then down into the canyon, where the temperature drop was noticeable and well received.
We almost ran directly into a deer down in the canyon as we were starting to climb back up the other side. The dogs were curious, but didn’t bark and the deer just stared at us for a few moments before picking its way down a side trail.
After coming out of the canyon, the climb begins in earnest up to the “summit” of Mount Lakeway, which is really just a big hill, but hey, that’s the best we have in Central Texas!
The trail switchbacks a million times once you get closer to the top, so it adds quite a bit of distance. There is also a path that just follows the power line ROW, which we used some of to get back down instead of switchbacking. We reached the top and took a snack and water break for everyone while we enjoyed the views.
We headed back down the way we came and got back to the car with some tired pups. Finn did great on his first hike.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Lost Maples State Natural Area
Warm, sunny, upper 80s
Ian, Court, Biff
We planned this trip as an overnight, but due to some unfavorable circumstances, we ended up bailing. This is the second time in a row I’ve bailed on an overnight at Lost Maples and I’m kinda kicking myself for it now, but at at the time, it seemed like the right choice.
We stopped at the cafe in Medina again on the way out and grabbed a chicken sandwich to fuel up before the hike. That place is great.
When we got to the park, the ranger asked where we were planning to camp and when I said Site C, she did not respond favorably. Apparently a whole pack of Boy Scouts had gotten there the night before and had taken most of the spots. We were still going to try though.
We took the same path we took the first time we backpacked out here, almost two years ago. Maple Trail then continuing on past Monkey Rock and The Grotto, then the BIG climb up to the top of the plateau, then the big descent down to the pond and Site C.
We also saw a Biff doppelgänger on the descent.
When we got down to the pond it was indeed packed with people and screaming children. There was another couple nearby that had set up and were trying to relax in their hammock and ignore the madness happening around them, but I don’t think they were doing too well. We could have hiked on and camped at another site a couple of miles away, but I really wanted to be near water and it became apparent the kids weren’t going to stop behaving like kids, so I made the call to bail.
Looking back on it, we probably should have stuck it out, but at the time I was just so annoyed. We headed back out the flat middle trail and hit the car and headed home. The hike itself was still good and it’s always good to get out and enjoy the woods.
I also wrote this whole entry on the mobile app and have no idea how it’s going to come out. Here’s hoping.
Wednesday and Thursday, August 9-10, 2017
Ucluelet and Tofino, British Columbia
We made the long drive from Jasper down to Vancouver through the thick smoke of myriad forest fires. We spent a quick night in Vancouver at a B&B and then took the ferry over to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and drove for 4 hours over to Ucluelet.
On the way out of Jasper we made a quick stop at the Mt Robson visitor center and then some random (and beautiful) falls and a fruit stand when we got closer to Vancouver.
Once on Vancouver Island, we stopped at Cathedral Grove to walk through the Douglas Firs that are hundreds of years old. They aren’t as big as sequoias, but still impressive.
After a winding three hour drive, we arrived at Ucluelet and our lodge, right on the foggy beach.
We drove up to Tofino, a more touristy surf town about 30 miles away, and had dinner and booked a whale watching tour. Both towns are awesome. We came in an interesting time of year where the warm air off the island meets the cold Pacific air, causing fog almost all of the time, except for the afternoons. The locals call it “Fogust” instead of August.
The next morning, I woke up early and went for a hike along part of the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet. There had been wolf sightings along the trail in the past year, so there were signs warning about hiking with dogs. That was an interesting way to start the hike. Hike was about 3.7 miles.
It was nice hiking along the rocky shores and cliffs in the early morning chill and fog. I saw a bald eagle as well, but barely got a photo before he dove out of view.
When I got back to the cabin, we ate breakfast and headed to the Ucluelet Aquarium, which was really cool. It is just a small, one-room building on the water, but is very informative and gets all of its animals and water from the surrounding bay. It is a “catch-and-release” aquarium and species are released back to the water each fall. Highly recommended if you’re ever in the area. Here’s their website: https://uclueletaquarium.org/
We went on our whale watching tour that afternoon, but only saw a couple of Gray Whales from a long distance. They were in shallow water, so we never really saw their tails. I got a good shot of a sea otter though, which are my favorite anyway.
To end the trip, we drove down for a quick evening in Victoria (we will be going back there for sure) and then across the strait to Seattle and home.
This entire trip could certainly be labeled once in a lifetime, but we definitely want to come back to several different spots and spend more time. Thanks to Doc and Suz for enjoying it with us and thanks to Canada for just being all around awesome.