Emma Long Metro Park

On the outskirts of northwest Austin, Emma Long Metro Park is a nice getaway from the city. I got there early and there was only one other person at the park. I liked the fact it was peaceful and secluded but still near the city. The main trail is 2.8 miles long but there are offshoot trails. I added about two extra miles of fun trails. The interesting thing about the main trail is that is does not run along side of the creek but crosses it several times. The trail is marked well but I still got lost twice. I blame it on the creek crossings. The trail has some elevation gains and a overlook but the creek was my favorite part. The water in most parts was crystal clear. I also like nearing waterfalls no matter how big or small. The park has several different terrains that kept the hike interesting. I was always hiking further on the offshoot trails to see what else was in the park. There was an interesting flat open area with some rock stacking. This is also a very dog friendly park. On my way out, there were more dogs than people on the trail. 20180523_083348.jpg20180523_084457.jpg20180523_094515.jpgDSC01067.JPGDSC01094.JPGDSC01099.JPG

This was a fun hike. It is another part of Austin that is very nice and scenic. This was also hike 32 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next was a flat and fastish 10K.

Copper Breaks State Park

Copper Breaks State Park is located in Quanah, TX which is about four hours north west of Dallas. This park was mind blowing. It is not as grand as Palo Duro or Caprock Canyon State Parks but they all three have similar features. The red rock with white stripes and the steep sheer cliffs is something that they all have as geological features. But Copper Breaks has some quirky looking features the other two do not have in them. The Permian Sea Tide Ripples were a nice surprise and the ripples in some of the elevation change areas were also a different aspect of the park. I am a fan of the natural balancing rocks and the park had many to see. The park trails also overlook Lake Copper Breaks and the Pease River. I only hiked the two most challenging trails but I ended up hiking double the mileage it showed on the map. I did not get off trail and never felt lost but my get lost factor is always high. This park also has part of the official Texas Longhorn herd and is an International Dark Sky Park. I am planning on making a trip out here for an overnight visit or a stargazing tour. The day I was here it was overcast and I saw no longhorns. DSC00810.JPG20180420_173918.jpgDSC00815.JPGDSC00827.JPGDSC00830.JPGDSC00845.JPGDSC00872.JPGDSC00862.JPG

I hope these pictures can depict how incredible this park looks. I look at the pictures I take and they still do not relay the imagery I see in person. This was hike 26 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I am at the halfway point in the challenge and what a great hike to get to this point.

Next blog is a hike but also a trail run. It might also be a trail run that turned into a speed hike. I might just call it a trail runhike with tons of pictures. Whatever it was it was very fun.

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.

Enchanted Rock SNA Part 3

As you may have guessed, I really like this park. Of the four main parks in this region, this is the one I have visited the most. The park is located 15 minutes north of Fredericksburg, TX. The main attraction is Enchanted Rock itself but I hiked to the top of The Rock last visit. I wanted to get to the east side of the park and also go to the lake and pond.

I got to the park before the headquarters open so I did not get a chance to pick up a park map. I had gone through my route several times prior to arrival so I was somewhat confident that I would not need a map. I was wrong and I immediately got lost trying to get from the Summit trail to the Echo Canyon trail. I decided to hike it the opposite direction of my original plan because it seemed less likely that I would get lost. The hike was great and I got to see everything I wanted plus some unexpected great views. I added some additional miles to my hike and of course got lost again. I was blessed to have some people going the same direction as me to help me find my way back to the parking lot. 20180330_074410.jpg20180330_094106.jpgDSC00568.JPGDSC00598.JPG20180330_085925.jpgDSC00580.JPG

I had another great time at Enchanted Rock SNA. I have now seen every part of the park I have wanted to see. The only part of the park I have not hiked is the far eastern part of the park. This was also Hike 21 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This was the first place in this series that I have hiked previously. I have not hiked this part of the park so it was a new experience for me.

I done a couple of trail runs and a few hikes since this hike. I do not know what I will blog next but it will be something outdoorsy.