Monday, May 27th, 2019
Pedernales Falls State Park – Trammel Crossing Trail
Partly cloudy, warm, upper 80s
I finally got out to Pedernales when the river was low enough to cross over to the other side for the 5 mile loop known as Trammel Crossing. I had tried this a couple of times over the years, but never had been able to safely cross. The water this time was about knee high and was still pretty strong. I didn’t have my trekking poles, which would have been helpful, so just took it slow and steady with small steps. This will be good training for fording creeks on the PCT as well, so I’ll probably come back here later this year or early next year.
The trail on the other side was mostly double track with the wild flowers still going strong.
Also saw a military helicopter flying overhead. Fitting since it was Memorial Day.
I got to the scenic overlook, but it wasn’t all that great, and two girls were there bogarting the viewpoint anyway, so I took a quick look and turned around to head back.
I crossed back over the river and sat down on the other side to wring out my socks. My shoes dry fairly quickly, but wringing out the socks makes a huge difference after fording a river.
Pretty nice trail overall. Will be back later with trekking poles to aid in crossing the river.
Sunday, May 19th, 2019
Reimer’s Ranch – Mountain Bike Trail – partial
HUMID, hot, upper 80s
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Only about a mile
This will be a fairly short entry, but had to get it in. We headed out to Reimer’s Ranch for a hike and to test out some new clothing that I am planning on using for the PCT, specifically the Southern California section in the desert. We decided to try out the mountain bike trails, which we had not done out here yet.
The wildflowers are still out in force and the trail was nice to start out. This ended up being the most humid day of the year so far and it was scorching, with heat index in the upper 90s at least. It was already uncomfortable and we had to make sure the dogs stayed hydrated too. It’s officially time to start sunrise hiking in Texas. Basically if you don’t hit the trail by 7 or 8 am in the summer it gets way too hot, especially if you have dogs.
The big surprise of this hike came only a half mile in on the trail. I was in the lead with Court and Finn following behind. Biff was in the lead and pretty much stumbled right onto a rattlesnake. He did NOT rattle, which was annoying, but luckily also didn’t bite. I saw him at the last second coiled almost in the middle of the trail, right before Biff was about to step on him, and I was able to yank back on the leash and get Biff out of harm’s way.
This is the first rattler we’ve seen in Central Texas in dozens of hikes. We saw a couple when we lived up in Dallas where the snakes seem much more numerous. After this encounter we just felt the trail had some bad juju and decided to end the day early. We tried to take the dogs down to the river to cool off, but that was way too muddy and so we just packed up into the cool AC of Donquita and headed back to town.
Not every hike is perfect or super enjoyable and sometimes you just have to know when to bail. Got the adrenaline pumping and glad the pups weren’t hurt.
Sunday, May 5th, 2019
St. Edward’s Park – various trails
warm, partly sunny, humid
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Another trip out to St. Edward’s Park, one of Austin’s hidden gems. It was Finn’s 2nd birthday and he’d never been here. Water was flowing really well due to all the rain we’ve had this spring. Mosquitos are getting nuts, but hopefully it keeps the heat down this summer a bit.
Muddy trails, but pretty and always a good hike. We found Courtney’s favorite spot with the waterfall, which she refers to as her own little Terabithia.
Saturday, April 27th, 2019
Canyon Lake, TX – Madrone Trail
warm, sunny, mid 80s
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Hey, we found a new trail! New to us anyway. We drove out to Canyon Lake, near New Braunfels, and did most of this loop with the pups on one of the rare sunny weekends we’ve had lately.
The trail basically meanders around one of the bigger peninsulas on the lake. Trail signage is spotty at best, so the Alltrails app came in handy, along with my ever present Gaia GPS.
The trail was single track most of the way and the terrain varied from dense woods to more scrubby, open grassland near the water.
Court mentioned that I stopped reporting the wildlife we see on hikes, so I’ll take this chance to say we saw a lot of lizards, which Finn was absolutely fascinated by. Also, at one point several vultures that were circling low enough that their shadows would project through the trees and onto the forest floor as we walked, which was a strange phenomenon.
The wildflowers put on a great show and the pups had a blast exploring and getting in the water.
We would have done the entire 7 mile loop, but the day got warmer and the dogs aren’t used to the heat yet, so we decided to cut it a little short to not push them too hard.
After the hike we got some pizza and beer at a great spot near Wimberley. The next day we would come back out to the same area to a couple of wineries and then hit up The Salt Lick for bbq. We may not have mountains and glaciers in Texas, but we make up for it in other ways.
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Barton Creek Greenbelt – Full Length
Perfect weather – sunny and 70s
Ian, Court, Brian, Biff, and Finn
I have never done the full Greenbelt end to end so we decided to tackle it with my buddy Brian this weekend. The Greenbelt is overly crowded these days, so we tried to avoid the most traveled paths as often as possible.
I also hiked with my full pack (Osprey Exos 58) that I will be using for my thru hike of the PCT next year. I don’t think I’ve officially announced that on the blog, but here we go! Planned start date is March 9, 2020, subject to permitting of course. I packed everything I will be taking on the trail, minus a few odds and ends, and ended up with a pack weight of just over 21 pounds. This includes 2L of water and food for roughly 2-3 days. Pretty happy with that, but will refine my pack and gear more over the next year.
We met at Brian’s house off South Lamar and his wife dropped us off at the trail at the absolute western end (yes Mom, WEST) that I didn’t even know existed. I had always thought it started at the Hill of Life, but you can KINDA start a little further at Lost Creek Blvd. It’s a little bush-whacky to start, but we made it through.
The water was flowing great and the trees are green. Perfect spring weather in Texas. We passed Sculpture Falls, Twin Falls, the Mopac bridge, then the 360 bridge.
We crossed over the creek several times, most of which Biff had to be carried over, which was sometimes tricky whilst carrying a full pack. Finn was not a huge fan either, but the water felt good and our shoes dried fairly quickly.
We got down past Gus Fruh and took a side trail out that led up to Barton Hills Elementary so we could make the walk back to Brian’s house. We skipped about the last mile of the trail, but the road walk made up for it.
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Pedernales Falls SP – Jones Spring
Chilly, overcast, 40s-60s
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
We got out to Pedernales Falls and did some of the trails in the southern part of the park that are much less traveled than the trails up by the Falls. The winter weather (Texas winter, not actual winter) refuses to release us from its grip so we started the morning in our puffy jackets for the first hour or so before we worked up enough heat to shed the layers later in the hike.
We combined parts of the Madrone, Juniper Ridge, East Boundary, and Wolf Mountain trails to make a loop on the southeast corner of the park before coming back down the Windmill Road to get back to the car.
About halfway through we got to Jones Spring and the remains of an old homestead. This was a great place to stop for lunch.
After the spring we took the Wolf Mountain trail for a bit as it wound around through the woods and eventually took the Windmill Road for a straight shot back to the car.
Strangely, there were very few wildflowers in the park, even though we are in the midst of the season right now. There was a large field of bluebonnets at the entrance to the park and some very nice people took some pics of us and the pups.
March 10, 2019
Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Overcast and cool
One of our favorite hikes near Austin is at McKinney Roughs Nature Preserve. It is run by the LCRA and has gotten a lot more maintenance lately because they opened a zip line course that brings in more money, so that’s fun. We haven’t done the zip line yet, but I’m sure we will at some point.
Spring in Texas is starting to come out after a long and wet winter. It is still chilly in the mornings (mid 40s or so), but getting up into the 70s regularly during the days now. 100s are just around the corner I’m sure.
We took the main path down to the river and then followed the river north towards the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort before winding through some thicker woods. The greens are coming out nicely.
Biff has started eating grass on hikes a lot. He doesn’t act any different or like he’s feeling bad, he just likes grass now. Thinks he’s a cow I guess.
Went out with Greg to the Riverplace Nature Trail the week before they started charging $10/head/pet to hike there. I do understand the need to limit crowds, as it has gotten extremely popular, but $10/dog? That seems a bit overboard.
Anyway, we did the full trail, out and back, including the Little Fern side trail. Water was flowing pretty well. Lots of people. Very pretty. Tired at the end.
Greg and I are going to hike Half Dome in Yosemite in the fall, so it’s time to get in shape. This trail will probably be one of several that I use to train for that endeavor.
Hike: Rim Trail, Lakeway, TX
Weather: cool, sunny, mid 60s
Hikers: Ian, Court, Biff, Finn
Length: 3.14 miles
This was a nice short hike back out in Lakeway starting from the Mt. Lakeway trail head. Our goal was to take the trail all the way to the lake, but they are doing construction and the trail seems to have been cut off, unfortunately. We circled back and did a quick loop around the pond which is more full than we’ve ever seen, due to some consistent rain this winter.
It was still a nice day and the pups were happy to get out in the early spring weather. We still have a few random days of cold and cloudy, but spring is just around the corner. I’m planning to hike a lot this year in anticipation for a pretty big idea that I will share down the road.
Sunday, January 20, 2019
Hike: Balcones Canyonlands NWR – Doeskin Ranch
Weather: cool, clear, mid 50s
Hikers: Ian and Greg
Length: 3.7 miles
This is one of my favorite hikes, though I don’t do it that often because there are no dogs allowed due to it being a National Wildlife Refuge.
Greg had never been and I figured it would be a good hike to start off the new year and a good MLK Day hike. We got out to the trail head around 11am and there were actually several other cars in the lot, which was a bit surprising. We didn’t see too many people on trail though, as I think there were some families with kids and they probably didn’t do the full length of the trail.
The day was pretty and quiet and we saw several small birds flitting around along with some vultures riding the updrafts. Greg brought his fancy-pants camera and got some shots of the waterfall near the end of the hike. I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.