Desktop Hiking

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/125 sec, ISO6400
“Desktop Hiking” Cedar Park, 2019

A few of my favorite hikers on YouTube:

Fun fun fun! 🥾

Hiking at Doeskin Ranch

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/8, 1/280 sec, ISO200
“Creek Trail” Doeskin Ranch, 2019

It was a beautiful sunny day, so I went out for a little bird-watching in nearby Liberty Hill and ultimately ended up at Doeskin Ranch, which is in the Balcones Canyonlands. There are several trails here, ranging from easy to moderate (although listed as Difficult on the map), and I figured I would take my time on the trails, stop a bunch and look for birds.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/16, 1/100 sec, ISO250
“Rimrock Trail” Doeskin Ranch, 2019

I started with the Rimrock Trail, then took the Shin Oak Trail, then hit the Creek Trail on the way back to the car. The Rimrock Trail was the most challenging because of the elevation gain and switchbacks, but it’s nothing to be overly worried about. Just take your time and soak in the views and you’ll be fine. I had some great weather with temperatures in the low 70s but it might be more challenging in the summer months. I didn’t bring water with me on the hike, but make sure to bring a bottle or Camelbak if you hike in the summer!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/300 sec, ISO200
“Trail Passage” Doeskin Ranch, 2019

The trails at Doeskin Ranch are really nice, winding their way through large trees, over large stones in the small creek, up to a nice plateau with some great view of the Texas Hill Country all along the way. A nice touch is the self-guided walking tour of Creek Trail where you can learn a bit of history about Doeskin Ranch and the surrounding area. It’s very cool!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2, 1/280 sec, ISO200
“Fall Colors” Doeskin Ranch, 2019

If you live in the Austin area, I definitely recommend coming out to Doeskin Ranch and checking it out. It’s free, kid-friendly, and very clean. Just make sure to bring water, because there’s none available at the ranch.

And I mentioned that I wanted to do some bird-watching. Well, I didn’t spot anything worth noting! Disappointing, but oh well. I just started birding so I can’t expect much. 😊

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/8, 1/950 sec, ISO200
“Looking Up” Doeskin Ranch, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/16, 1/1800 sec, ISO200
“Rocket Plane” Doeskin Ranch, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/2200 sec, ISO200
“Rimrock Trail” Doeskin Ranch, 2019

Buddy Trip to Big Bend National Park – Day 3

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/16, 30 sec, ISO800
“Santa Elena Canyon” Big Bend, 2019

Day 3 of our our camping trip to Big Bend National Park would be our final day here, but it would end with one of the must-see sights of the park. But first, we were treated to a wonderful sunrise:

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/16, 1/90 sec, ISO400
“Sunrise” Big Bend, 2019

What made it spectacular was that we were able to view it from the remote back-country campsite. I highly recommend staying at one of these campsites at least once while in Big Bend! It’s such a different experience from waking up in the middle of a crowded campground. Our campsite, Robbers Roost, is accessible if you have a high-clearance vehicle, but there are other back-country campsites that are accessible by regular passenger cars. Just check with the visitors center rangers, and you can choose the campsite based on their recommendations (and you are required to pay for the back-country permit).

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/16, 1/15 sec, ISO200
“Robbers Roost” Big Bend, 2019

Speaking of high-clearance vehicles, my buddy drove us in his Jeep Rubicon, so we had no worries about traveling to the back-country campsites or trail-heads. It was lots of fun, and the Jeep was certainly in its element!

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/6.4, 1/550 sec, ISO200
“On the Trail” Big Bend, 2019

Next on the agenda was our final trail, and one of the must-see highlights of the park: Santa Elena Canyon. But before I write about that, I have to add a bit of important info about Big Bend. The park occupies a huge amount of land in Texas, so getting from one part of the park to the other takes a significant amount of time. For instance, getting from the Panther Junction Visitors Center, which is kind of in the middle of the park, to Santa Elena Canyon takes over an hour according to Google Maps. And of course, you’ll find yourself wanting to pull over several times on the way to take photos of the incredible landscape! So, make sure you build the travel time into your schedule, especially if you don’t want to set up your campsite in the dark.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/5.6, 1/1900 sec, ISO200
“Mountain Range” Big Bend, 2019

Santa Elena Canyon is an amazing sight and very cool trail, but getting on the main trail can be a bit of a challenge, depending on the flow of Terlingua Creek. I’d say half of the people crossed the creek, which came up higher than knee-level this day, and half walked upstream a bit to find a dry crossing. We did the latter on the way in. This dry route involves a little bit of scrambling up the hill to get to the trail, but is not too difficult. If you want to do the creek crossing, wear some shorts or swimming trunks, and have shoes you don’t mind getting wet. A towel would be good to have as well.

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/16, 1/550 sec, ISO200
“Santa Elena Canyon” Big Bend, 2019

But the extra effort of getting across the river will be rewarded by a hike inside the majestic canyon, and some wonderful photos. It’s actually kind of difficult to capture the scale of the canyon because the walls go up so high, but it was fun to try. On this trip, I brought along my Moman tripod and ND-1000 filter so I could blur the water a bit. In the photo at the beginning of this post, I used and exposure of 30 seconds to blur the water. The ND filter and the WCL-X100 wide adapter for my Fujifilm X100T camera made for a nice combination. Still, I had to take four photos and stitch them together to create the final image since I couldn’t capture what I wanted in just a single frame.

That image was taken at a little outcropping not quite at the end of the trail. I think it’s a better view that the one at the end, but I did take a photo at the end. I think the hiker in the photo makes the image work… if she wasn’t there, I probably wouldn’t have posted the photo. But you can get a sense of scale when there’s a person in the image, so I like the photo:

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/10, 1/30 sec, ISO200
“Santa Elena Canyon” Big Bend, 2019

On the way back, my two buddies decided to cross the river. I didn’t want to risk dumping my camera in the water (and I didn’t want to get wet) so I took the dry route back. However, that worked out nicely because I was able to take a photo of them crossing:

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/10, 1/250 sec, ISO200
“River Crossing” Big Bend, 2019

After a little break and cleanup at the Jeep, it was time to head home. This trip to Big Bend National Park was pretty epic, with fun camping, lots of hiking, a visit to Mexico, and an endless supply of photo opportunities. And to spend time with friends is priceless. I’m looking forward to our next camping trip! 😊🏕️📷🌌🚙🌇

Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 19mm, f/2, 1/12 sec, ISO200
“Photo Op” Big Bend, 2019

Hiking Day

"Hill Country View" Leander, 2018
“Hill Country View” Leander, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Well, as I alluded to in yesterday’s post, I planned to hit the trails with my new Merrell Moab 2s today, and not only did I get to hike, but my son came along with me! It was a lot of fun, we enjoyed perfect weather, and the shoes worked well. I also got to try out a couple other new pieces of gear: trekking poles, a selfie stick, and the Victure 4K action camera.

First up, the BAFX trekking poles are my first pair of modern hiking poles. I previously used a wooden stick that I bought for a few dollars from Home Depot (like a big dowel rod), and it worked nicely, but was kind of heavy and took up a lot of space in the car. I did get to pretend I was Gandalf when trekking with it though…

But these new aluminum poles are a nice upgrade. Not only are they super-lightweight, but they collapse down to 25″ for storing. Using two poles instead of a single hiking stick is really great. Although the poles can help with bearing weight, I think that the main benefit is that they give you better positional awareness of your body. Now there are two additional points of reference to augment your inner ear and feet, and that makes a huge difference.

The selfie stick and action camera were a lot of fun to use, and I can see that it takes a bit of practice to get some decent footage. But I can also see that it just takes some experience in order to improve. I don’t think there are many technical aspects to master since the action cam is not so sophisticated, and the selfie stick is extremely basic as well. The video quality isn’t the greatest, but for $40 for the camera and $10 for the selfie stick, I cannot complain.

Anyways, here’s some footage from the hike:

… and the GPS track I recorded in Strava.

I hope you had a nice day!


New Hikers

"Merrell Moab 2" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/40 sec, ISO6400
“Merrell Moab 2” Cedar Park, 2018

Hey there! Today I bought a new pair of hiking shoes, the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilators. Last week I went hiking and wore my Keen boots, but they are a size too small so when going downhill, my toes would hit the front of the boots. That’s not good. The reason I got the Keens was because I found them at an REI garage sale for only ~$15. They were good replacements for another pair of Keens that I bought for even less! So I couldn’t pass them up. However, as I found out last week, the small size won’t work for hiking.

Old boots and new replacements

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After a bit of research, I decided to go back to hiking shoes rather than boots. I used to wear hiking shoes a long time ago and thought they were great. I also decided to forego the waterproof models and try a ventilated model, and the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilators fit the bill. These feel great because the toe-box is large and fits my foot nicely. I tried on different sizes, using a very thick sock, which is comparable to my Darned Tough socks, so I am confident that the size I chose will work out well. Tomorrow I’ll put them to the test on the trail, since the weather looks good for a hike. 🌞🌲

But if for some reason they don’t work out, I can always return them because REI has an amazing return policy.

I hope you had a great day!