Atlanta Area: Emerald Green Urban Wilderness

I am pleased to report the American Wilderness is alive and well in Atlanta, Georgia.

I took my second trip of the year out to this area and spent a lot of time hiking in neighborhood parks close to the North Druid Hills area.  Next time I go, and if you go, I recommend checking out the Hahn Woods area.  I didn’t get a chance to actually go into it, but I drove past it and it looks like it has all the elements of a Muir-like retreat.

Where I did go:

DeepDene Park

Upper Bridge
Creek Crossing near the Lower Bridge
This tree seemed huge to me

Fernbank Museum Hiking Trail

Mari and her oldest son

Lullwater Park

Trail to the Cache I was seeking

I took most of the pictures on my trip during a behind-the-scenes zoo tour my friend arranged for us.  It might be beyond the scope of this blog, so I am deciding what to do with them.  More information later as I find the time…

Buescher State Park: Lost Pines

On Saturday, we drove up to Buescher State Park to hang out with our friends.

Okay, so we got a “smilie” for it, too, since it was a geocaching event.  An event, for those of you who don’t geocache, is a gathering of other geocachers.  Usually our events in the Houston area are hosted in restaurants, but some are at parks.  Some of them revolve around a common interest or activity.  We passed up a dog park event and a canoeing event this weekend to come to this.  This one was a camping event, and it is the eighth camping event our group (usually Diane, gsguru, specifically), has hosted in the past couple of years.

Anyways, after much back and forth, we decided not to camp, but to hang out for the day, go for a nice hike with some of the group, and participate in the potluck dinner.

We stopped on the way to grab the cache at the location I talked about in the previous entry.  Then, we stopped again for lunch at Hruska’s.  If you are ever on 71, you have to stop there!  Delicious treats abound.  Apparently, they have been using the same polish recipe for their kolaches since 1962.  They have 16 different varieties.  The hamburgers are also outstanding, and so are their specialty fruits and nuts.

The wildflowers along the drive were putting on quite a show.  Not many bluebonnets, but at least a dozen other varieties.  Finally, we got to the park and checked in with our friends.  For a while, dogs outnumbered people at our campsite (eight furry folk in attendance!)  After some time, we left the older boy with Diane and set off on a four mile hike with our dogs and two other ladies:  “Gigi and JoJo”, from Austin, and Arlene, of “davarle”, from the northwest side of Houston.

The hike we were doing was primarily motivated by the desire to find a series of Harry Potter themed caches in the back of the park, but in the end, it was really the therapy of the woods and letting the dogs have a fun romp that was our reward.  Here are pictures from along the way:

The Finding of the Pond


One Giant Leap for Dog-Kind

Follow the Leader

Gigi and JoJo


Arlene laughs


The trail continues


Along the way
Happy Breeze


Me and my shadow, Raine

This hike really carved this park into our hearts.  The terrain was awesome and the woods calming and beautiful.  We want to come back when the ravines we saw have water flowing through them.  We want to come back and rent one of the nice little mini-cabins (#3 specifically) and stay the weekend.  It was less than two hours from our house, and even better than Lake Texoma SP.  Come see for yourself!

Columbus, TX: Texas History and Paddling Trail

This is the view looking out of the entrance to a Texas Parks and Wildlife Canoe Launch area in Columbus, Texas.

During the struggle for Texas Independence, it is said that the army of Santa Anna camped on one side of the Colorado River here, while Sam Houston’s army camped on the other.  They crossed paths nearby in a place now called Beason’s Crossing, and later met up at San Jacinto to end the battle to the benefit of Texans.

The Columbus Paddling Trail starts here, and weaves for 6.5 miles around a bend in the river, ending at Beason’s Park (where the above Crossing was, but which is now a shady place to have a picnic and recreate).  You can rent yaks and canoes from Howell Canoe Livery, located across the Colorado from this TPWD canoe launch, which you will find along 71 Business in Columbus, just across the North Bridge.

Here is more information about the paddling trail:

We had, of course, stopped here for a geocache find.  But now that we know what is here, we might bring the canoe out, or rent some yaks, or hide some caches along this route.  The bonus for us, besides learning some about Texas history and paddling trails, was seeing sensational wildflowers here.

Here are some photos Jason took:

White Prickly Poppy : Argemone albiflora


Violet Wood-Sorrel? Oxalis violacea

Firewheels, or "Indian Bonnets. Gaillardia pulchella

The North Bridge

George Bush Park Hikes Series #1

I’ve started to realize that George Bush Park is underappreciated.

We go there a lot, but it rarely gets my blog love.  Sometimes it is hard to drum up excitement about going there.   Some of this is due to its proximity – it’s so close that it feels like going to our backyard, and how exciting to talk about is that (unless you have a really cool backyard)?  Some of it also is about the terrain.  It is kind of a prickly sort of place, with the potential for lots of thorns and pointy branches and pokey things.

But we forget, until we get there, that it is actually a beautiful place.  Often when we are hiking in the park, I hear a refrain from this song in my head, an Antje Duvekot song called “The Bridge” (although I see online the same lyrics for a song by Shaye called “Beauty”, unsure about the true songwriting credit), that goes

You will find beauty in the toughest of places/and I will be thinking of you out there

This day we went was unseasonably warm, and towards the end in the bright sunlight, Rascal and I were having a hard time.  We both have our reasons why.  We still have to get our track log off the GPS to find out how far we went, but I think it was around four miles.  We found a cache, but we also found lots of places caches weren’t, and maybe could be, if we can get some of our own put together to hide.  But mostly, this day was for the dogs.  Here are some photos of the day:

Finding unHouston


Rascal Finding Beauty

This hike: Parked at the new “Freedom Park” area, in the back right hand corner.  Walked along the pipeline until reaching a collection of downed trees.  Found a path to the right, followed this down to where it opened up to the bayou, turned left at the bayou and walked along it for some time, then turned around and came back out the way we came.