January 01, 2022
Upper Falls pool at McKinney Falls State Park

As the second year of the pandemic sputtered to a sour end, with covid rates skyrocketing yet again, I turned to nature for a spirit-soothing New Year’s Eve hike with my family. Around noon we arrived at McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin, glad for our online reservations, as the parking lot was full and rangers were turning people away at the gate. Probably 15 years had passed since my last visit to McKinney Falls, and I was surprised all over again by the beauty of the swimming holes ringed by rock-slab necklaces and waterfalls sluicing channels through ancient-seabed limestone.

We explored the Upper Falls first, where we found people sitting quietly atop a rocky ledge surrounding a large swimming hole.

Fishermen were casting lines from the top, as well as along the pool’s edge below.

It’s been a few weeks since it last rained, but stranded pools of water remain in flood-carved potholes. Twisting channels carved through the rock spill water from Onion Creek into the deep, boulder-clogged water.

The geography reminded us of Pedernales State Park, which has been one of our favorite hiking destinations over the years.

Twistleaf yuccas and grasses have seeded themselves into cracks in the limestone, making green-and-tan ribbons along the rock bed.

While my family practiced their rock-skipping skills, I admired the thick, knotted roots of bald cypress anchoring these majestic trees to a flood-prone creekbank.

Other trees provided balance-beam exercises.

Looking down placid Onion Creek, you might never guess what a raging torrent this place can turn into after a few inches of rain. But stranded debris high in the trees and the deep-carved cliffs along the creek tell the tale.

Lower Falls at McKinney Falls

At the Lower Falls, just a short drive or easy hike away, two or three flumes were spilling over the limestone slab that overhangs a wide swimming hole. And seeing as it was 80 F — on the last day of December! — a few brave souls were swimming. We’ve had a very warm December, in fact, but Austin is finally expecting to get its first freeze of the season tonight, as temps plummet from 80 to 29 F overnight.

But yesterday’s humid, warm weather made swimming seem like a good idea. Maybe.

McKinney Falls is a lovely place to hike around or just sit and soak up the natural beauty.

And look — here’s a sign of a beautiful spring to come: thousands of Texas bluebonnet seedlings! Happy New Year, friends!

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Need design help with your yard? Hire me as your personal garden coach! Maybe you need replacement plant ideas after the big freeze. Or maybe your landscaping has grown tired, and you want fresh curb appeal. Or perhaps you’re ready to get rid of some lawn and create a pollinator garden, bird habitat, or hangout space for you and your friends. I’m here to help! Contact me to let me know what’s going on, and let’s figure it out together. My range is Austin and suburbs within a 25-min. drive of NW Austin, but I’m flexible and can travel farther with a surcharge, so let me know where you are. Weekday morning appts. only.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring garden designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. Check out the 2021-22 schedule. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

The post New Year’s Eve hike at McKinney Falls appeared first on Digging.

At McKinney Falls, swimming holes are ringed by rock-slab necklaces and waterfalls sluicing channels through ancient-seabed limestone. … Read More
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January 01, 2022

Upper Falls pool at McKinney Falls State Park

As the second year of the pandemic sputtered to a sour end, with covid rates skyrocketing yet again, I turned to nature for a spirit-soothing New Year’s Eve hike with my family. Around noon we arrived at McKinney Falls State Park in southeast Austin, glad for our online reservations, as the parking lot was full and rangers were turning people away at the gate. Probably 15 years had passed since my last visit to McKinney Falls, and I was surprised all over again by the beauty of the swimming holes ringed by rock-slab necklaces and waterfalls sluicing channels through ancient-seabed limestone.

We explored the Upper Falls first, where we found people sitting quietly atop a rocky ledge surrounding a large swimming hole.

Fishermen were casting lines from the top, as well as along the pool’s edge below.

It’s been a few weeks since it last rained, but stranded pools of water remain in flood-carved potholes. Twisting channels carved through the rock spill water from Onion Creek into the deep, boulder-clogged water.

The geography reminded us of Pedernales State Park, which has been one of our favorite hiking destinations over the years.

Twistleaf yuccas and grasses have seeded themselves into cracks in the limestone, making green-and-tan ribbons along the rock bed.

While my family practiced their rock-skipping skills, I admired the thick, knotted roots of bald cypress anchoring these majestic trees to a flood-prone creekbank.

Other trees provided balance-beam exercises.

Looking down placid Onion Creek, you might never guess what a raging torrent this place can turn into after a few inches of rain. But stranded debris high in the trees and the deep-carved cliffs along the creek tell the tale.

Lower Falls at McKinney Falls

At the Lower Falls, just a short drive or easy hike away, two or three flumes were spilling over the limestone slab that overhangs a wide swimming hole. And seeing as it was 80 F — on the last day of December! — a few brave souls were swimming. We’ve had a very warm December, in fact, but Austin is finally expecting to get its first freeze of the season tonight, as temps plummet from 80 to 29 F overnight.

But yesterday’s humid, warm weather made swimming seem like a good idea. Maybe.

McKinney Falls is a lovely place to hike around or just sit and soak up the natural beauty.

And look — here’s a sign of a beautiful spring to come: thousands of Texas bluebonnet seedlings! Happy New Year, friends!

I welcome your comments. Please scroll to the end of this post to leave one. If you’re reading in an email, click here to visit Digging and find the comment box at the end of each post. And hey, did someone forward this email to you, and you want to subscribe? Click here to get Digging delivered directly to your inbox!

_______________________

Digging Deeper: News and Upcoming Events

Need design help with your yard? Hire me as your personal garden coach! Maybe you need replacement plant ideas after the big freeze. Or maybe your landscaping has grown tired, and you want fresh curb appeal. Or perhaps you’re ready to get rid of some lawn and create a pollinator garden, bird habitat, or hangout space for you and your friends. I’m here to help! Contact me to let me know what’s going on, and let’s figure it out together. My range is Austin and suburbs within a 25-min. drive of NW Austin, but I’m flexible and can travel farther with a surcharge, so let me know where you are. Weekday morning appts. only.

Join the mailing list for Garden Spark! Hungry to learn about garden design from the experts? I’m hosting a series of talks by inspiring garden designers, landscape architects, and authors a few times a year in Austin. Check out the 2021-22 schedule. These are limited-attendance events that sell out quickly, so join the Garden Spark email list to be notified in advance. Simply click this link and ask to be added.

All material (C) 2022 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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