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The momentary respites from the bitter cold are enough to get me stirred up for a hike. Although a few folks are wanting to get a weekend camping trip together for February, it's still a bit too cold for my Texas bones to pull a over-nighter. Here's just a sampling of my tried and true fixes:

Local Hikes
Wild Basin Preserve
Although I have taught quite a few insect classes and led countless hikes at this preserve, I never get tired of walking the trails. Bee Creek snakes through this lovely and sometimes rugged terrain.

Bright Leaf State Natural Area
Another preserve nestled in town between Mopac and 360, but not accessible to the public on a regular basis. My docent status allows me the freedom to visit the trails whenever the urge overtakes me!

St. Edward's Park on Spicewood Springs Road
Lots of memories there- aquatic insect sampling with Riley, walks by myself for downtime between work shifts at Dan McKlusky's, playing in the creek with Eli at two years of age, hiding out under some foliage with Sydney at 3 years of age, during a pouring rain!

McKinney Falls State Park
Miss my Tuesday morning stream surveys with the fifth graders from Earth Camp- one of the many perks of working for the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department.

ALL-TIME Texas Camping Favorites

Colorado Bend State Park (approx. 1 ½ hrs travel)

Highlight: Gorman Falls, beautiful maidenhair fern cascading from the travertine deposits. The guided falls and cave tours are weather permitting because the rock trail is extremely slippery when wet. PRIMITIVE camping on the Colorado River. It was cold and misty when I went there with HCO in November 2003, but a nice roaring fire made for an intimate gathering! We spent the evening huddled around the campfire, swapping jokes and favorite movie quotes.

Big Bend National Park (approx 8 hrs)

What's so special about this place? I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Fredrick Gelbach, author of "Messages from the Wild" who describes this area as “a carpet of interacting plants and animals deftly woven on a geologic loom." I brought him in as a speaker for a Capital Area Master Naturalists monthly meeting before I ever visited Big Bend. One of the most beautiful views I've ever seen is that of the the sun setting through the Window of the Chisos Basin.

Devil's River near Del Rio, Texas (approx 8 hrs travel)

Chihuahuan desert meets with the Edwards Plateau never stayed in the TPWD primitive campground, but I've had the privilege of staying and conducting fieldwork at the Nature Conservancy's Dolan Falls Preserve and it was a life-altering experience.

If I had my wish, my ashes would be scattered over Dolan Falls. So many wonderful memories there, of the connections made and lessons learned from my mentor, Riley.

Some Rileyisms:
How can you tell it's a Texas stream? Cuz it's got a boot in it!"
"What are flies good for? Making more flies."
"You can never step into the same stream twice."

Wish List
Lost Maples State Natural Area



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC)
For those of us near cowhaus, walking along Bull Creek is quite nice. This is the creek that runs along Spicewood Springs, and runs under 360. I'll typically park by where Spicewood goes under 360. You can walk quite a ways if you don't mind getting your feet wet.

BTW, for long posts like this you might consider an lj-cut. :)
Jan. 31st, 2005 05:17 pm (UTC)
BTW- St. Edward's Park on Spicewood Springs Road is on the upper Bull Creek Greenbelt. I was fortunate to spend countless hours up and down that 11 mile long stream and its tributaries while working on the Jollyville Plateau Water Quality and Salamander Assessment looking for these little guys, the Jollyville salamander. I know where some of the most pristine springs exist in Austin, right under our noses! In fact, there are two small preserves with flowing springs- Spicewood Springs and
Barrow Preserves- located in the neighborhood near our favorite Mangia's. Maybe when you'll healed up I'll show you!
Jan. 31st, 2005 07:05 pm (UTC)
I went on a great hike with HCO last saturday in the Barton Creek greenbelt. Darrell C led it, he said it was the first thing he'd led since three years ago! It was a great hike, we crossed the creek twice in knee-deep water and only got lost once.

If you ever feel like hiking around anywhere with somebody, let me know. :)
Jan. 31st, 2005 07:26 pm (UTC)
So Commander is stepping up finally? All event leaders were recently contacted to assess whether they wanted to continue as event leaders, and if so we are to meet certain requiremnents. Not at all unreasonable- many (including me!) haven't led many events for awhile. I need to make a decision by next Monday myself.....

We will definitely have to hit the trails. Just waiting for the trails to dry up a little before I head out. The trails at McKinney Falls State Park handle the rain a bit better, so that might be a good option.
Feb. 1st, 2005 01:09 pm (UTC)
The water was chilly, too. I was glad we were almost done after the second crossing. My feet "cold hurt" just a little.
Feb. 1st, 2005 09:59 am (UTC)
Ah, just what I needed to be reminded of to get me out of the mean gray doldrums. I love hiking and camping so much. Big Bend is my special favorite since I was born in Alpine. : )
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )