Barton Creek Greenbelt

This, unbeknownst to me, is a very popular spot in Austin. The trail is a 15 mile out and back depending on where you start. It could also be a 15 mile loop. I did an out and back section between the Mopac Hwy Trailhead and the Hill of Life Trailhead. The hike was a total of 6.6 miles of overlooks, hills, waterfalls, rock climbing and people lots of people. I got there in the middle of the day and middle of the week hoping people would still be at work. Apparently, people do not work in Austin. I had never seen so many cars at a trailhead before. I walked about a third of a mile before even getting to the trail. The trail itself was very nice. Well groomed with little to no trash. The biggest issue was trying to get pictures without random people in the background. There were two main waterfalls in the section I hiked but they were filled with people so I did not get pictures. I chose the section because of the waterfalls and they were very nice but way too many people. The other section leading to Zilker Park had more of the rock climbing cliffs. I did see some people rock climbing on this section. The highlight of the hike was the climb up the Hill of Life. It was a leg busting experience. It was a long steadily climbing hill that was not too steep but long. 20180522_154659.jpg20180522_154704.jpg20180522_161103.jpg20180522_164827.jpg20180522_173629.jpgDSC01054.JPG

I really like this trail. I will try to get back here and do the Zilker Park section and this section again when there are less people. This was hike 31 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next a park with not many people but a lot of dogs.

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.

Blanco State Park

I was looking at a map of my trip from one state park to another and Blanco State Park pops up as a park I could visit. The park was not out of the way but off the beaten path just a bit. It is located in Blanco, TX which is about an hour north of San Antonio. I was lucky enough to get to drive on HWY 290, 281 and FM 32. I mention these roads because these have some of the most scenic spring time views Texas has to offer. The blooming flowers on 290, the ranch land and small towns on 281 and the canyon views on FM 32. In addition to the three scenic roads previously mentioned, I also drove through Luckenbach and Farm Rd 1623 follows the Blanco River all the way to the park. It was a nice view of the river for miles before going to the park of its namesake.

The park itself is one of the smaller state parks. The trails were well marked and easy to find and follow. They were both out and back trails that stayed along the river. The park seemed like a city park that was converted into a state park by adding cabins. This is a CCC park so the buildings were a pleasure to look at with the rock designs. The park main attraction was a man made damn that doubled as a cool waterfall. I did not get any good pictures because there were always too many people in that area. The hike was easy with few elevation changes. 20180330_115406.jpg20180330_115812.jpgDSC00609.JPGDSC00626.JPGDSC00641.JPGDSC00630.JPGDSC00618.JPG

The whole park experience was a good time. The drive to and from the park and the park itself made the visit worth the travel. This was also hike 22 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up is the BBQ capitol of Texas where I order pizza.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.