Barton Creek Greenbelt – Full Length 4/14/19

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Barton Creek Greenbelt – Full Length

Perfect weather – sunny and 70s

Ian, Court, Brian, Biff, and Finn

8.9 miles


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.

Brian rocking the sombrero
Biff eating grass, like he does
Obligatory trail derp
Mopac 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.

Sculpture Falls
Rope swing!

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.

Finn needed a post hike nap

Pedernales Falls SP – Jones Spring 3/31/19

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Pedernales Falls SP – Jones Spring

Chilly, overcast, 40s-60s

Ian, Court, Biff, Finn

6.5 miles

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.

Finn does not enjoy being a horse
Biff making sure I’m not getting left behind

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.

McKinney Roughs 3/10/19

March 10, 2019

Ian, Court, Biff, Finn

Overcast and cool

5.4 miles

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.

No pups in the bird blind!
Trying to catch up
River in sight

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.

Biff scavenging for grass
River is high
Super green
River view from higher up
End of trail. Biff is hiding in the back.

Riverplace Nature Trail 2/24/19

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.

Rim Trail, Lakeway, TX 2/17/19

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.

Biff scouting trail
Typical Texas trail scenery
A little bit of water flowing in the stream at the bottom of the canyon
Full pond
Court and Finn
Court and Biff

Balcones Canyonlands NWR – Doeskin Ranch 1/20/19

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.

water was flowing well
scrubby with blue sky
Texas Hill Country
Texas Hill Country
Cool algae
Greg setting up camera
Greg photo
Greg photo

Tyler State Park (belated) 7/14/18

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Hike: Tyler State Park – ‘A’ Loop Trail

Weather: warm, sunny, upper 80s?

Hikers: Ian, Biff, Finn

Length: 2.6 miles

I totally forgot to blog this when it happened back in July. I only remembered it because I was going back through all my 2018 photos, but hey, better late than never.

Court had a work function up in Tyler and I did a quick hike out at the state park. It was quite a nice hike through the piney woods of East Texas. We got out before it was too warm and the dogs had fun.

Here are the photos in no particular order.

Inks Lake Overnight 11/24/18-11/25/18

Saturday and Sunday, November 24-25, 2018

Inks Lake State Park

Ian, Court, Biff, Finn

As is becoming tradition, we headed out to one of our favorite state parks for Thanksgiving weekend.  This was originally slated to be a two night affair, but some exciting football scenarios played out and we wanted to make sure we were in a place to watch on Friday night.

Our regular site (#328) wasn’t available, so we took a chance on #304 which turned out to be awesome.  It’s a huge site with private lake access.  We could easily camp 3 separate tents here.

Bones for pups

After a couple of hours in town watching football, we went for a quick evening hike before starting up a fire and making dinner.

We woke up with the sun, packed up, and hit the trail for a longer hike to finish out the trip.


There was a fire out here this summer that consumed about 300 acres within the park and made for some really interesting burn zones on our hike.  There were huge swaths of burned cactus that looked like corpses on a battlefield.  Twas a bit eerie.

Water break for Biff and Finn
Burned cacti
Hike 1 – 2.1 Miles
Hike 2 – 3.2 Miles

Barton Creek Upper 11/3/18


Trying out the new WordPress editor on this one so gonna be just some pics and whatever else I end up messing with. 

Edit: Well the pics didn’t show up on the mobile version so I guess it’s back to the normal editor for now.


Hit up the Hill of Life after some heavy rains this fall in Austin.

Going down the Hill of Life with early morning sun

Fall colors starting to come through

Sculpture Falls

Sculpture Falls

Sculpture Falls




Palmaria Island – Portovenere, Italy 9/28/18


Friday, September 28, 2018

Palmaria Island – across from Portovenere

4 miles



This hike was not really planned.  The idea was to take the ferry across the bay to Palamaria Island and rent kayaks and explore the coast line.  We had heard there was a place on the island to do just that.  Instead we found a weird mix of dilapidated buildings, an odd beachfront “cafe” that looked like it might be haunted, wild goats, and questionably marked trails.  On top of this, Court was wearing shoes much more suited to kayaking than hiking, so needless to say she was not ready to hike what ended up being just over four miles.  She stuck it out though and the island gave us an interesting afternoon hike.

We started off on an old jeep trail that gradually climbed up and around the island, giving us some nice views looking back toward La Spezia and the mainland.


We climbed up into the woods for a bit and then back down to the shore, where we were greeted by the remains of an old military base of sorts.  Most of the buildings had fallen down and it had a very eerie vibe.


Remains of an old shower facility


After this is where the “cafe” was, though it looked deserted as well.  The pics of it on Google maps show it full of people and the food looks good, so maybe we were just here at a weird time of year or something.

We soaked our feet in the ocean for a bit and then headed back up hill where we were greeted by the islands wild goats that roam around and eat whatever they can.

Wild goats – hard to see, but they are there


We reached a few more military ruins at the top, enjoyed the views, and then cut back across the center of the island.


There was actually a large fort in the center that was completely overgrown and I believe dates back to WWI or WWII.

Overgrown fort


By this time our feet were hurting and we were a bit disappointed by the lack of kayaks we had anticipated, so we did our best to get back to the dock and catch the ferry back to Portovenere as soon as possible.  I think if our expectations had been different, this would have been a much more enjoyable hike, but it was an experience nonetheless.

Looking back towards Portovenere – disregard telephone pole