McKinney Falls State Park 6/29/13

June 29th, 2013

Hike:  McKinney Falls State Park, Austin, TX

Weather: sunny, hot, low-mid 90s

Hikers: Ian, Court, Greg, Biff, CV, Sam

We woke up early to beat the heat and got out to the park at 8am.  Met up with Greg and started at the Lower Falls and hiked the Homestead Trail.  I forgot the camera, so no pics.  Even with some decent rain lately, the water was very low.  Sam was a wild man and had to wear his doggy shoes to start the trail so he didn’t rip his paws up, which he did anyway.

After walking over the mostly dry falls, we went to the beginning of the Homestead Trail (2.8 miles).  The trail was pretty flat and wound through the woods until the last half mile or so where we slightly gained elevation and twice came out next to civilization (a Texas Parks and Wildlife building and an office park).  CV and Biff both did well, but we forgot their water bowl so Court had to use her hands for CV to drink.

We saw only a couple of spiny black caterpillars and a small rabbit on this short trip.  I’m sure the dogs kept most other wildlife away.  We got back to the falls and let the dogs cools off in the water for a bit before heading back to the car.  Would like to come back and spend longer and do a couple of other trails at some point.

Dinosaur Valley State Park 6/22/13

June 22nd, 2013

Hike: Dinosaur Valley State Park, Glen Rose, TX

Weather: Sunny, hot, slight breeze, mid-low 90s

Hikers: Ian and Court

We got up early Saturday morning in Dallas and drove the 1.5 hours to the park, arriving right at opening, 8am.  Aside from the overnight campers, we were the first ones on the trail.  First, we went to the main dinosaur track site.  I think we found one or two, but without a guide or park ranger it’s a bit difficult to tell.

dino track?
dino track?

After a quick look for dinosaur tracks, we headed over to the main trail head.  There are some advantages to being first on the trail: solitude, lower temperatures, quiet.  But there are some decided disadvantages as well.  On this trip: SPIDERS.  We quickly found that the local spider population had very effectively woven a tapestry of webs overnight, criss-crossing the trail at every possible place.  Aside from spiders being one of my least favorite creatures on earth, getting a face full of web every six feet is not a good feeling.  Each of us found walking sticks that were truly “spider sticks”, used to clear our path of the ever-present webs.  However, after about 45 minutes, we came upon wider paths and the spiders, who had slowed our progress significantly, became fewer and fewer.

Today, I had taken a backpack to get used to hiking with some weight, in preparation for future hikes and overnights.  However, all I had was my Dell computer backpack, not exactly meant for outdoor recreation.  I purposely overpacked, trying to get used to a decently heavy load.  I soon realized that the lack of a hip belt to take a lot of the load off my shoulders made for a pretty uncomfortable hike.  Nothing unbearable, but suffice it to say, I can’t wait to get a real hiking backpack.

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We first headed south along the White and Blue trails, battling the spiders and clearing the way for future hikers.  We circled back north, came down Denio Creek, and then, barring a slight loss of bearings that led to a backtracking of about .5 mile, headed northwest along the Blue trail along the Paluxy River. (see map)

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Crossing the Paluxy River
Crossing the Paluxy River
Looking upstream
Looking upstream
Ian with spider stick
Ian with spider stick.  Small waterfall in the background coming off the overhang.
Going up the rocky trail
Going up the rocky trail
Prickly Pear
Prickly Pear

This last loop on the Blue trail was the best part of the hike.  We stayed alongside the river on fairly level ground at first, shaded underneath the trees.  We came to a wooden bridge and turned north to loop back.  Here we gained quite a bit of elevation and were treated to a couple of nice overlooks of the park at the top.

Overlooking the park
Bridge on the Blue Trail
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Overlooking the park

Wildlife was pretty abundant.  A lot of lizards that were lightning quick once they’d spotted us and one small, black snake about 1.5″ in diameter that was equally as quick to vacate the path as the lizards.  We also saw a couple of Cardinals, but none of the Golden-Cheeked Warblers or Black-Capped Vireos that the park is known for.

Colorful lizard
Colorful lizard

All in all, we hiked about 5.5 miles in 4 hours.  We were done by noon, just as the heat of the day was starting to creep in.  My shoes and socks held up well, as well as my synthetic sleeveless tee.  Cotton has no place in the outdoors, however.  We are going to start slowly buying equipment for our more intense hikes and overnights in the coming years.

At the top!
At the top!
Map at the trail head
Map at the trail head

Ecola State Park 5/5/13

May 5th, 2013

Hike: Indian Beach at Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach, OR

Weather: Mid 80s, sunny, breezy, warm

Hikers: Ian, Court, Greg, Cat

Drove to Cannon Beach from Portland and arrived at noon.  The original intent was to hike the Clatsop Loop, but this trail was great.  It wound through the forest, out to overlooks, along the cliff faces, and finally down to Indian Beach, with many changes in elevation.  The views of the Pacific were amazing.  We could see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, aka “Terrible Tilly” in the distance, along with various other rock formations.  Total distance covered round trip was about 3.5 miles, but the terrain was somewhat challenging at points.

Greg (barefoot?) and Cat walking the trail
Greg (barefoot?) and Cat walking the trail

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Court at overlook
Court at overlook
Looking down on Indian Beach
Looking down on Indian Beach
This reminds me of The Goonies, which was filmed very near here
This reminds me of The Goonies, which was filmed very near here

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Overlooking the Pacific from the cliff face
Overlooking the Pacific from the cliff face
Deciding which way to go
Deciding which way to go
Terrible Tilly
Terrible Tilly

The beach was amazing, albeit somewhat crowded.  There was a freshwater stream about 15 feet wide that came down from the forest and cut across the beach straight into the ocean.  The sand was fine and gray.  Around the rocks were many tide pools fed by the very cold water of the Pacific. Our feet were numb after a few minutes wading.  In the tide pools were many creatures: purple and orange starfish as big as your hand, anemones (blue and green), urchins, mussels (Court was amazed at the size of some), and tons of barnacles, all clinging to the dark black rocks.  The beach was very wide, probably 200 yards from water to the forest cliffs.

Pictograph on the beach
Pictograph on the beach
Walking the beach
Walking the beach
Creek coming down from the forest to the ocean
Creek coming down from the forest to the ocean with Tilly in the background
Starfish
Starfish
Anemones
Anemones

We made our way back using a slight shortcut we found further down the beach.  The temperature change within the forest compared to the beach was awesome.  We didn’t encounter much wildlife, but I saw a small centipede of some kind and also got a great (and lucky) photo of a white butterfly in mid-flight.

Stairs in the forest
Stairs in the forest
Big tree!
Big tree!
Butterfly in flight
Butterfly in flight
Say Cheese
Say Cheese

Once back to the car, we headed into town for supplies and went further down Cannon Beach for a picnic and views of Haystack Rock and surrounding area.

Council Crest 5/4/13

May 4th, 2013

Hike: Marquam Trail to Council Crest, Portland, OR

Weather: Low 80s, sunny, breezy

Hikers: Ian, Court, Greg, Cat

This was Ian and Court’s second trip to Marquam, Greg and Cat’s first.  Trail wasn’t too crowded and a bit drier than the first time.  Breeze felt great under the shade of the trees.  We made the roughly 3.2 mile loop in about 2 hours.

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Court and a big tree
Court and a big tree

The summit was gorgeous.  There was a group of people wrapping a Maypole at the top.  We had clear views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams (St. Helens too, I think).  On the way back down we saw a black snake on the trail, but it got away before we could identify it.  Ian also broke in his new hiking shoes on this trail.

View of Mt. Hood from Council Crest Park
View of Mt. Hood from Council Crest Park
Greg checking out Mt. Adams
Greg checking out Mt. Adams
Radio tower and water towers at Council Crest Park
Radio tower and water towers at Council Crest Park
Plaque at Council Crest
Plaque at Council Crest
Maypole
Maypole
The descent back down Marquam Trail
The descent back down Marquam Trail

“At 1,071 ft above sea level, Council  Crest is the highest point in the Tualatin Mountains (West Hills) that run parallel to the Willamette River in Portland.” – Wikipedia

Enchanted Rock 2/23/13

February 23rd, 2013

Hike: Enchanted Rock, Fredericksburg, TX

Weather: clear blue skies, sunny, low-mid 70s

Hikers: Ian, Courtney

Got to the park around 10:15am.  Had to wait in line, as cars were backed up onto the main road to get in.  Made our own trail up to summit of Little Rock.  Steep ascent at the beginning.  Main rock too crowded.  Court saw a squirrel and we came across a lizard on the way down that blended in perfectly with the granite.  Court also got scratched by a cactus spine at some point.

“Enchanted Rock is an enormous pink granite pluton rock formation located in the Llano Uplift approximately 15 miles north of Fredericksburg.  The rock rises 425 feet above the surrounding terrain to an elevation of 1,825 feet above sea level.  It is the largest such granite formation in the US and was designated a Texas Historic Landmark in 1936.  The rock is roughly 1 billion years old, with evidence of human visitation going back at least 11,000 years.” – Wikipedia

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Vegetation on the rock includes lots of grasses, prickly pear cactus and other small shrubs.  Lots of lichens as well.  We could see for miles around from the top.  I forgot my hat, so the sun was a little harsh.  Overall, a pretty short hike, but good exercise and Courtney’s first time to the rock.

See map: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/park_maps/pwd_mp_p4507_119c.pdf

Blast Off

So I’ve decided to start a blog to get a digital record of our hiking adventures.  I’ve been keeping my hiking log on paper, but will now transcribe them here, along with pictures.  I’m not looking for followers necessarily, but really I just want a place to store our adventures.  Plus, my handwriting is getting continually worse as time progresses.

I’ll see how this goes and maybe eventually I’ll get deeper into it and post some videos, gear lists, and other stories from the trail.

 

Ian