Lost Maples State Natural Area

Maria, Kelly and Suzanne on Saturday's hike on the West Trail.
Maria, Kelly and Suzanne on Saturday’s hike on the West Trail.

Destination: Lost Maples State Natural Area

Date: May 14th and 15th, 2016 (Finally, we’re back after a long time without a weekend hiking trip)

Travel Time from Austin: 2.45 hours

Participants: Kelly, Judy, Maria, Suzanne (Bettina was in Hawaii)

Saturday Hike:  We backpacked from the parking area at the West trailhead to G primitive camping area. About a 3 mile hike with steep climbs to the camping area.

Sunday Hike: We packed up Sunday morning, hiked from our campsite with plans to drop off our backpacks and hike the East Trail. Rain clouds gathered while we tossed our gear in the trunk and we decided to head back to Austin instead.

Bird of the Trip: Black Capped Vireo also the Common Raven

Campsite: G primitive camping area

Camp Food: Incredible Curry by Kelly. A tip on beer and backpacking: wrap each chilled beer in newspaper and then pack them in an insulated lunch bag. They stayed cold for over six hours!

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Maria, Kelly and Suzanne spotting a Black Capped Vireo while hiking on the West Trail Saturday afternoon.

I’ve highlighted our hike on the map below. Here’s a link to a PDF of the map from the park’s web site.

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South Llano River State Park

 

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We saw a snake just below us in the river so we moved (quickly) to where the other swimmers were before getting in.

Destination: South Llano River State Park

Date: May 31 & June 1, 2014

HikeCampHikers: Suzanne, Bettina, Kelly, Judy

Travel Time from Austin: 3 hours

Park Notes: Wow! Birds! We saw all types never seen before (by me), even Suzanne (our bird expert) was excited and impressed with the number and varieties of birds. This park will be a favorite destination especially in summer since it has the river which we hopped in after our hikes on Saturday evening and again on Sunday morning. Maybe we’ll even bring our bathing suits next time. And the primitive camping spot, with a mile and a half hike in, was remote and we had it all to ourselves.

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We forgot our swimsuits but were not deterred.

Campsite: Primitive Campsite

Bird(s) of the Trip: Painted Bunting – incredible color! Other sightings included the Summer TanagerVermilion FlycatcherHouse Finch and Indigo Bunting

Equipment Highlights: Since we swam in our undies Bettina and Kelly had a contest to see who’s pair of fancy new hiking panties dry fastest. Kelly has a pair of Smartwool brand Women’s PhD Seamless Boy Short and Bettina’s are REI brand Seamless Briefs.  Both pairs dried by the time we got back to camp, everybody was a winner. Kelly also has a new sleeping bag, the Sierra Designs brand Backcountry bed. She was very happy about it. It looks so comfy I am thinking of getting one too.

Camp Food: Thanks to Suzanne we all tried the Epic Bison Bar. It was actually very tasty. We will be packing some of these protein-packed bars on our Rae Lakes Loop epic Backpacking Trip this July. Don’t get the wrong idea, we had our usual spread of great food in addition to the bars. Bettina cooked penne pasta at home and packed it along with pesto, just picked tomatoes, avocados and parmigiano-reggiano, delicious! We (me) hauled an ice chest the 1.5 miles to the campsite and we had cold wine and beer with dinner. Worth it! Oh and I can’t forget to mention a stop at a Valero gas station in Johnson City  the “Dixie Quick Stop” with the most amazing selection of mexican pastries! YES! Get a Churro and bring me one please.

Saturday Hike: We parked in designated spot for primitive camp sites behind the park headquarters. We hiked in and set up our tents and started hiking from our camp on the Golden-cheeked Warbler Trail to the Fawn Trail through the camping area to the Tube Takeout spot at the river. We took a swim and hiked back to our campsite. 6 miles

Sunday Hike: We packed up and hiked back to the car, unloaded gear and hiked to the day use trail past the log barn (#4 on the map) and to the river for a swim, then back to the car. 3 miles

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Hiking through a beautiful pecan grove on Sunday’s hike.

Here is a link to the park’s trail map. Below is a detail of the map with our hikes highlighted:

 

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Photos:

See all the photos from the South Llano River State Park here.

McKinney Roughs Nature Park

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Giant Pecan Tree on the day hike at McKinney Roughs Nature Park. Suzanne, Judy, Bettina, Kelly. Photo by Maria.

Destination: McKinney Roughs Nature Park

Date: December 8th

Travel Time from Austin: 30 minutes

Participants: Bettina, Kelly, Judy, Maria, Suzanne

Bird of the Trip: Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! Because it’s such a great name. And we saw lots of them!

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Enjoying Lebkuchen cookies by Bettina. Pictured: Suzanne, Kelly, Bettina, Maria, photo by Judy.
Camp Food: Bettina made German cookies called Lebkuchen (german for delicious I’m guessing) here is the recipe:
8 eggs
1/2 pound sugar
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 tsp. Ginger
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Allspice
(if you want to – add fresh grated ginger)
1 pound  ground almonds
1/4 pound currants
1/4 pound sultana raisins (yellow raisins)
Mix first six ingredients, slowly add ground nuts, currants and sultanas. Greased aluminum foil on cookie sheet, put mixture on it and bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
When cooled down, put icing on it (powdered sugar and lemon juice) and cut in squares.

Hike: This month we had so much going on for the holidays and snow (yikes!) was expected for the weekend we were planning to go camping that we just decided to go for a day hike. McKinney Roughs is a great destination for a day hike being only 30 minutes away from Austin and having around 18  miles of hiking trails. It’s a day use park and the main entrance is closed on Sunday (the day of our hike) but you can drive to the Highway 71 trail head, east of the Main entrance and start at the Whitetail trail. We hiked for about 5 hours with a break for lunch at the Giant Pecan Tree. I’ve highlighted our hike on the map below. Here’s a link to a PDF of the map.

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Photos:

See more photos from the McKinney Roughs Nature Park here.