Buescher State Park

Buescher State Park is located in Smithville, TX which is about forty minutes east of Austin. The park is a smallish park and besides camping, I do not know the park’s main attraction. The park has no distinct look. It could be in east Texas and not stand out. It could be in north Texas and fit in with the other parks. It even could be a central Texas park and not be out of place. I think that is why this park is kind of special. The trails did not hold up too well because of the rain. They still had spots of thick mud and standing water but other parts were bone dry. The park also is still displaying the damage of its own floods and fires. The park is restoring well just like Bastrop SP. Due to the size I got to hike the entire park during my time in the park. The fog had burned off and the sun was shining. The temperature rose very quick but it was still a nice day. The trails were easy with not too much elevation change. There were some good views and plenty of scenery. DSC00735.JPGDSC00739.JPGDSC00743.JPGDSC00752.JPGDSC00748.JPGDSC00742.JPG

I was surprised that I did not see any wildlife at the park. There were birds but that was it. A nice park for a quick day hike. This was hike 25 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up a park I had never heard of went to a park I could not miss out on.

Bastrop State Park

I have finally made it to Bastrop State Park. I have been to seven Austin area state parks but never had a chance to go to Bastrop State Park. The timing has not made it possible to visit this park. I found a trail race near the park and I was not going to miss my chance to hike Bastrop State Park. The park is located in Bastrop, Texas about thirty minutes east of Austin. The park in recent years has been devastated by floods and fires. The majority of the park was burned down and then a couple of years later flooded and left about half of the park under water. I am visiting the park three years after the last major natural disaster and the park is rebuilding itself. I was told it would take about 80 years for full restoration.

I arrived early in the morning and it was cool and very foggy. I did not think I would get good pictures in this type of fog but I was told to go through with the hike. The person described the park in this fog as “majestic” and “enchanting.” He was spot on. The park was beautiful in the fog. The views were incredible and even though you can still tell that the park had be through natural disasters it still was spectacular. The different tree colors, the red dirt, the elevation changes and the regrowth of smaller plants made this park a must see. The park for me lived up to all of me expectations and more. This park also had some interesting CCC features.20180331_090444.jpgDSC00668.JPGDSC00681.JPGDSC00703.JPGDSC00715.JPGDSC00729.JPG

This was hike 24 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It will definitely go down as one the best and most memorable hike. Of course, I got lost in the fog. It was a good built in excuse. I would have gotten lost on a bright and sunny day. I added an extra mile and a half to the hike and it was well worth it.

The next park was a quick ten minute drive down the road.

Lockhart State Park

In the land of BBQ there is a state park. I knew very little about this park and the park seemed to be a park for golf. I do not golf. It also supposedly has some good fishing spots. I do not fish but want to learn and start fishing. I do hike and this park has some surprisingly nice hiking trails. I even had a tough time on Rattlesnake Run trail to finish off my hike of the park. Lockhart State Park is located in Lockhart, TX which is about thirty minutes south of Austin. I decided to do a combination of seven trails because none of them are particularly long. I luckily brought enough water due to the heat. The temperature rose very quick in the middle of the day. Another good thing was that the trails were shaded for the most part. I enjoyed my time at this park. I stayed longer than I thought was going to stay so I had to pass up on another park I was going to try to visit. This was a trend of that weekend. I was continually hiking longer in one place and missing out on the next place. This was also the weekend of getting lost and I did get lost at Lockhart State Park and ended up on the golf course. I was pleasantly surprised to find two waterfalls in the park and one was flowing to the point where the crossing point was flooded. DSC00666.JPGDSC00658.JPG DSC00653.JPGDSC00651.JPG20180330_144610.jpg20180330_151304.jpg

This was hike 23 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series and one of the biggest surprises of these hikes. I found many things on this hike that I did not expect. The trails had good elevation change. There are some CCC buildings and waterfalls. It was a good hiking experience.

Next up is a park I have been trying to get to in over a year.

Austin Rattler 10K+

I had heard many good things about Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville. TX. I was looking for a race to run there and found several. I decided on the Austin Rattler 10K. The ranch is located about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. It was amazingly beautiful. The drive out the was very picturesque with the bluebonnets and indian paintbrush flowers all over the place. The two days leading up to the race the mornings were very foggy but this morning the fog burned off early and it was a fantastic day. The race had people from all over the country. I talked to people from Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and of course Texas. They announced runners from Maine and California also. The race date was April 1st and this is mentioned due to my trend on getting lost.

I started out running strong and feeling good. I was staying behind a pack of five runners for a long time. I was trying to hang on the back of that pack but got dropped. The next thing I know I am running by myself for fifteen minutes. I check my phone and I have ran over the 10K distance by a half mile. I continue and start to see several runners flying through the trails. They were the 33K runners. I realized I was lost. I got directions and missed my turn again. I am now 8.5 miles into a 10K. I find some volunteers to get placed at spot on the course where I should not get lost. Yes I do mean placed. I had to get an ATV ride. I was going to finish and was not going to get a DNF in a 10K. I get dropped off where I made my second wrong turn and finally pass where I made my first wrong turn. At the finish, I realized I was less than a mile from the finish line when I made my first wrong turn. I ended up running 10.4 miles. It turned out to be my long run before my first 1/2 Marathon next week.20180401_075242.jpg20180401_075419.jpg20180401_075909.jpg20180401_075905.jpgbazu-15942367.jpgThe crazy look you get when you realize you ran an extra 4.2 miles and still did not come in last place.

I had a great time even though I was lost most of the time. I finished in a very unspectacular 2:30:35. Although the course was muddy in some sections, the time was not good. I guess I played an April Fool’s Day joke on myself.

My next blog will be about the 1/2 Marathon then back to the trails.

The Art of Getting Lost

I have a gift of getting lost in places where there is no reason of getting lost. I prepare and plan and read maps prior to any adventure. This weekend was the ultimate of being lost multiple times even though I played it about as safe as I could.

20171001_1347581.jpg

My first safe play was passing on a hike in which I would not finish until sunset. It is not a problem but I would have to drive in the dark with no use of my phone to give me directions. I avoided the danger of getting lost on the roads.

DSC00275.JPG

Now for getting lost. I go to Enchanted Rock SNA early to beat the Easter weekend rush. The problem is that I could not get a trail map. Being overconfident of my navigation abilities and memory, I try to hike my route using my mind. Bad idea, I got lost in ten minutes and ended up where it started. I am a smart guy so I decided to hike my route reverse because I would less likely get lost. My plan worked until the end of the hike. The trail disappeared and I was looking straight down a cliff with a bunch of boulders. I was lucky two nice guys lead me through the boulder field to the parking lot. I got lost and never left the trail. Plus I added an extra mile plus to my hike.

DSC00515.JPG

The next day I took full opportunity to get lost. I should have known this one was coming. It was early morning in a thick fog. I decided in all my infinite wisdom to hike Bastrop State Park. The full write up will be later on Bastrop. I was going to the scenic overlook. The whole park was scenic. The fog was everywhere and I missed my turn and hiked the wrong trail. The trail lead to an overlook but not the one I was looking for on the map. I saw another trail that looked awesome and luckily that was the correct trail and I was lost no more. It added over two miles to a fantastic hike.

20171220_085511.jpg

Last day of my lesson of getting lost was epic. I was running a 10K trail race and flying through the course. I was wondering why I was running for about 12 minutes and did not see anyone. I then saw a few runners in the 33K and 66K race. Well crap, I was lost again and this time I paid to do it. I once again never left the trail but I made a huge wrong turn. Three miles later I “found” some volunteers. I ended up doing 10.4 miles for my 10K. Needless to say I came in last.

The funny thing is I had a blast being lost and meeting good people and seeing more than I bargained to see. If you want to get lost and have some fun, just follow me.

2018 hiking plans, maybe.

download_2_medium.png

I am at it again. I already have done six hikes. This year is the Explorer Series so I will be doing 52 different hikes. No repeating hikes during this challenge. I am also going to try not to repeat hikes from last year. Which means going to many different Texas state parks this year. I went to 26 different parks in the last challenge and already two more in this challenge. I looked at a Texas map and began to find some close day trip parks and then some distant vacation type parks. I also will go to a few parks from last challenge but hike different trails. I came up with three list of parks. I am hoping I can do what I have planned out but that rarely happens. So hear it goes.

New Parks for day trip: All of these parks are with a two and half hour drive except the first one.

Abilene SP, Eisenhower SP, Fort Richardson SP, Lake Arrowhead SP, Lake Tawakoni SP, Purtis Creek SP and Ray Roberts Lake SP.

New Vacation type trips: These parks are over three hour drive away and might need to make a weekend out of the trip.

Atlanta SP, Bastrop SP, Blanco SP, Bueschler SP, Copper Breaks SP, Government Canyon SNA, Guadalupe River SP, Lockhart SP, Longhorn Cavern SP, and Palmetto SP.

Repeat parks: These parks will fall under the previous two but I will do new trails.

Caprock Canyon SP, Cleburne SP, Colorado Bend SP, Dinosaur Valley SP, Enchanted Rock SNA, Garner SP, Hill County SNA, Inks Lake SP, Lost Maples SP, Palo Duro SP, and Pedernales Falls SP.

I also have plans to go to Texas’ suburb states of Oklahoma and Arkansas again. Plus  there are local hiking trails I would like to visit and I got a good list from 52 Hike Mike.

See you on the trails.

2017 My Top 10 Places Hiked

My last blog of the year is a review of the best places I have hiked this year. I was going to do a list of top ten hikes but I could not narrow it down to a good twenty. Plus the order would change as I was thinking about which hike should be placed on the list. I decided on places because it was easier but not easy. The top ten was not too difficult but the order was very hard. I did about 60 hikes this calendar year and they were spread out the entire twelve months. I had to compare the recent fresh in my mind place with a place that was hiked ten to eleven months ago. The ten places I have chosen, I have or will hike multiple times. Two places I have hiked but not blogged about yet. The ten places cover three states, a national park and a wildlife refuge.

10. Cedar Ridge Preserve-Minutes away from home and is one of the most scenic areas in Dallas County. hike2220171124_121348.jpg

9. Hot Springs National Park-This quaint cozy park has some great views. 20171112_103833.jpg20171112_103709.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park-The Texas hill country is all over this list.20170406_131314.jpg20170122_130731.jpg

7. Pinnacle Mountain State Park-The second Arkansas park and a summit hike.20171111_141701.jpg20171111_082716.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA-The park is more than The Rock. Hidden gems everywhere.20170406_092524.jpg20170122_102656.jpg

5. Lost Maples SNA-A nature made amphitheater with great trees, waterfalls and views.20170711_182026.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge-This place has everything. Summits and waterfalls.20171208_162255.jpg20171001_111717.jpg

3. Caprock Canyon State Park-Home of the official bison herd of Texas. Plus canyon views.20171220_124508.jpg20171220_122602.jpg

2. Colorado Bend State Park-Gorman Falls is amazing but that is just the start.20170405_143431.jpg20170405_134311.jpg

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park-The second largest canyon in the USA.20171220_082257.jpg20171219_144321.jpg

These top ten places that I have hiked in 2017 maed this a memorable and fantastic year. Next year I hope to have a totally different list of places.