Guadalupe River State Park 4/29/18

 

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.

Discovery Center

Happy Biff

River View

 

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.

Finn begging for sandwich
Rejected (they both got some though)
Lunch View

 

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.

Mossy trees

Grelle Recreation Area 4/8/18

 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

 

Grelle Recreation Area 

Cloudy, 50s-60s, giving way to sun and 70s

Ian, Court, Biff, Finn

3.8 miles

 

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.

Finn and cairns
Climbing up in the cold

First trail marker

Lake is a little low
Blue skies starting to break through

Spring in Texas
Donquita

South Llano River State Park – 3/24/18-3/25/18

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.

Claret Cup cactus

 

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.

Covered table pavilion

 

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.

Jet trails
My reading material

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.

Windmill from the old ranch days

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.

South Llano River

 

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.

Commons Ford Ranch 1/15/18

 

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.

Climbing up to the 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.

Buescher State Park 12/30/17

 

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.

Melted trail marker

Inks Lake Overnight 11/25/17-11/26/17

 

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.

Court preparing dinner with the pups waiting for her to drop anything edible
dinner

We headed to bed before hiker midnight (9pm) and planned to get up and hike early.

last of the fire before I put it out

 

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.

same pic, sans people

 

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.

Lake Georgetown – Goodwater Trail – Cedar Breaks TH 11/19/17

 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

 

Lake Georgetown – Goodwater Trail – Cedar Breaks Trail Head, Georgetown, TX

cool, 50s-60s

Ian, Biff, Finn

7.92 miles

 

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.

Pre-hike stretch
Trail Head

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.

Finn doesn’t stay still for photos

We went past the longhorns on the way in, but they were pretty far from the fence.  This would change on the way back.

Remains of an old building where the longhorns graze
Spring that feeds the falls

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.

Crockett Garden Falls

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.

Inga’s Trail 11/18/17

 

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.

Fall trying to peek through

Greenbelt – 360 Trail Head 11/4/17

 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

 

Greenbelt – 360 Trail Head

Ian, Court, Biff, Finn

HUMID, warm, upper 70s

1.9 miles

 

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.

Some fall color coming through

Mount Lakeway and Finn’s First Hike – Lakeway, TX 10/29/17

Sunday, October 29, 2017

 

Mount Lakeway Trail – Lakeway, TX

Ian, Court, Biff, Finn

Sunny, warm, mid 80s

5.4 miles

 

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.

Court and Finn

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.

Biff

Heading into the canyon

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!

Starting to climb up

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.

Hill Country views
Pups at the top
Lake Travis in the distance. Ignore the power lines.

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.

End of trail

Lost Maples State Natural Area – 9/23/17

 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

 

Lost Maples State Natural Area

Warm, sunny, upper 80s

Ian, Court, Biff

4.92 miles

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.

 

Ucluelet and Tofino, BC, Canada 8/9/17 – 8/10/17

 

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.

Biggest tree in the grove

 

After a winding three hour drive, we arrived at Ucluelet and our lodge, right on the foggy beach.

Deck view

 

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.

Sea planes that Doc loved
Fog in the distance

 

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.

Trail Head
Map

 

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.

Bald Eagle is there, you just have to squint

Lots of these guys

Tree growing out of another tree

 

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.

Whale watching in the fog
Sea otter!
Steller sea lions

 

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.

Morning at the hotel in Victoria

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.