Day Trip to Balcones NWR

Well, I gotta tell you…it’s certainly windy in the hill country in central Texas; it’s been blowing in the 20-30 mph range pretty much since we arrived. We’re dealing with it though…got up this morning and Connie did some work while Neil made a couple of reservations for Oregon then about noon we headed off to the Balcones NWR for a couple of hikes. The big attraction here is the Golden Cheeked Warbler which only nests in the area after wintering in Mexico somewhere. We didn’t see one. One of the other hikers at the main visitor center told us there was a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake right off the short trail around the center…we looked for him to get a picture but he musta slithered off because we never saw him. Connie was paranoid about rattlesnakes the rest of our two hikes though.

Wildlife was pretty scarce today…it was raining off and on and windy and pretty overcast and misty. We did spot some Barn Swallows nesting on the visitor center building; here is one of them building the nest.

BalconesNWRBarnSwallow

Continuing around the trail at the visitor center we saw some nice barrel shaped cactus and then some prickly pear cactus.

BalconesNWRCactus1

BalconesNWRPricklyPearCactus

Then we headed back up the road about 5 miles to the site of our main hike today; we went on the Warbler Vista Trail which combines the Cactus Rocks Trail and the Vista Knoll Trails; we also took a short side trip onto the Ridgeline Trail to see if it gave us any decent views…it didn’t and it was so misty and hazy that any wide views would have been lousy photos anyway. We did snap a nice picture of the trail itself (this is on the Cactus Rocks Trail which had some interpretive nature signs).

BalconesNWRWarblerVistaTrail

We spotted an Indian Paintbrush on top of a large piece of limestone so Neil grabbed a shot of it.

BalconesNWRIndianPaintbrush

Then we spotted what all of us have seen on many hikes through out our lives and this was the portion of the tour where we learned something. We’ve always thought that that green stuff  growing underfoot was grass…but all these years we’ve been wrong. It’s actually known as Cedar Sedge and we grabbed a shot of it as well.

BalconesNWRCedarSedge

Still looks like grass to me…but Cedar Sedge it henceforth shall be. Continuing on around the remainder of the trail we got back to the road and hiked back up it about 3/4 of a mile to the parking lot…spotting some nice orange and white wildflowers on the side on the way.

BalconesNWROrangeFlower

BalconesNWRWhiteWildflower

Once we got back to the car we drove out to the Sunset Deck which (supposedly) has great views of the hill country. Unfortunately it wasn’t sunset and there was that whole rain/mist/fog thing going on anyway so the view was pretty much meh. We are going back to Balcones NWR later in the week to visit another couple of bird spots anyway so we will see if we can pop by and get some photos at the Sunset Deck assuming the weather is decent.

After that we headed home…stopped at Sears to buy a new torque wrench for torquing the bolts on the rig wheels. The first one we bought from Amazon for 45 bucks failed the third time Neil used it…goes to show one should always buy Craftsman tools from Sears since they have a lifetime warranty. They didn’t have one in stock so we’ll just order one and have it delivered most likely to Kerrville two stops from now. After the failure to buy a torque wrench we went to Z’Tejas for dinner which is a southwestern grill. Connie had a Ranchero Steak which is flank steak with cheese and cilantro pesto then rolled up. It was pretty good. Neil had Chorizo Sausage stuffed Shrimp…they were so-so at best. We also had some beer and really good cornbread which we brought home for breakfast tomorrow as we were pretty full after chips and salsa (unlimited chips and 3 salsas for $2.50 at Happy Hour price) and our entree.

Then it was home for shower and the recliners.

Cyas.

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About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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