When Mark and I took our little hike through the canyon in Bandelier last July, I was reminded of how wilderness thoroughly refreshes and refuels me. How easy it is to neglect that part of myself that craves occasional solitude with nature. After that trip to Colorado where we enjoyed so many beautiful hikes, I made a mental promise to schedule one day a month on which I would get away for at least a couple of hours and honor that facet of my being that thrives on the peace of the outdoors. August and September kind of slipped by, but it’s hellahot here then, so I gave myself a pass.
One of the many perks of living in Austin is the abundance of opportunity to enjoy nature trails and beautiful scenery without even leaving the city limits. On Monday morning I drove to McKinney Falls State Park, which is an hour from my house but still in the city of Austin. I was hoping to spy some signs that fall might be sneaking in, but I guess October 24 was still too early for fall color. Oh wait- there was this:
I chose the Homestead Trail because it was the longest park trail, but still only three miles. The only challenging part of this trail is getting across the falls to access the trailhead!
I was able to hop across the rocks with only a modicum of moisture entering my shoes and socks, but next time I would bring water sandals.
This trail goes right by these sad ruins of a home built in the 1850’s by Thomas McKinney.
The scenery along the trail was a bit disappointing. It was mostly brush and an unattractive invasive stalky plant. The lackluster vegetation was made up for, though, by a proliferation of butterflies that pleased me very much. Most of the butterflies were small and pale, with just a lower band of coral on their wings, but when they flew around the trail they seemed to sparkle with pale pink hues. It occurred to me that perhaps we all cast our best light when we are moving through this world rather than sitting still in it.
There were a few flashier butterflies, like these two striped beauties.
I checked out the camp sites, which were large, private, and very nice. The real draw of this park ,though, are the falls and the swimming holes that lure humans and their dogs during the long hot months.
I was back home by 2:00, but felt as though I had been worlds away.
Perhaps next month’s outing will reward me with a few signs of autumn. Central Texas doesn’t do fall well, but we love it anyway.
Happy trails, mes amis!