My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Spring Comes to Reimer Ranch

Last Monday, I was ready to leave my daughter's house with plans to visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on the way home. But I found it was closed on Mondays. My alternate plan was to go to Reimer Ranch, a huge county park, along the Pedernales River.

I arrived, just as the morning fog was lifting to an almost empty park. The park doesn't charge fees to old guys, so they gave me a map and a list of birds seen at the park and waved me on my way.  It is several miles from the entrance to any of the parking places. Since my last visit, when the park was very new,  beautiful rock buildings have gone up and a lot of the paths are accessible. I came to a place with signs to a rock climbing area.  It also now has beautiful bathrooms and drinking water.

I parked and  took the easy trail to the canyon and then walked along it.  The recent rains had started to recharge the aquifers as well as had just run into the low places so there was a little water in the bottom of the gulley.  As I walked along it, I was amazed at the difference between the plants in it and the plants on the surface.  The top is full of cactus and stunted live oak as well as grasses, while the canyon was a place of ferns, sycomore and cypress trees.  It even had a resident canyon wren that repeatedly sang it's wonderful descending song.

View down the canyon

The old and new leaves and berries of a sycamore growing in the canyon floor

Huge cypress, grow from to floor to out of the canyon - these were blooming and leafing out

I followed the trail along the canyon until it ended on an overlook over the Pedernales River.  I climbed over a waist-high stone wall to follow an accessible trail back to the car. This area was more meadow, cactus, wildflowers and small trees and held lots of mocking birds and titmice, as well as a few lingering white-crowned sparrows.

I loved the backlit cacti all covered with spider webs and condensation

Baby blue eyes were blooming in small groups and large masses

I got back in my car to go to my original destination, a trail that runs along the Pedernales River.  But I found the road branched and the right went to an overlook to the right and my remembered river trail to the left. I took the right road to a parking lot and then found a path down to the river.  There were lots of titmice and wrens foraging. The trees were covered in ball moss, a favorite nesting site of northern Parulas, although none had arrived to sing their little zeeee -up sewing machine call.

View across the river 

A patch of ball moss in bloom

Black and turkey vultures started flying off the cliffs while I enjoyed the view

The Pedernales River
 I climbed back to the car and drove to the other access point to the river. This has a covered picnic area and more restrooms, all made of the native limestone. I had to share this parking lot with three other cars, but only saw two other couples on that trail.

Several species of butterflies were very active.  

Within just over a mile, my path came to a side creek coming down through a canyon, I think the first one I visited. It turned to go up the hill, so I did too and was soon in a lovely, shady forested area, which I really appreciated, since the temperatures were reaching the high 70's. I first turned left when I reached a fork in the trail, since it seemed to parallel the river and thus would be expected to take me back to the car.  But I soon came up to a group of guys that were rock climbing.  My trail disappeared about that time and the guys said that I couldn't get through by walking. So I turned around and took the right trail which soon wound upward along the creek.  This was a lovely moist area and wildflowers and ferns were everywhere.

Honeybees were industriously harvesting pollen and nectar from spiderworts

Baby ferns were sprouting and unrolling

View along the trailside

The further I went, the rockier it got, until I got to what looked like a cave that had fallen down.  It even appeared to have remnants of stalactites and stalagmites. Water was dripping all along the front of this area and a strong stream of water was keeping all the moss  and ferns on an old stalagmite well-watered.

This old stalagmite was about as big as me in both height and
width and was getting a good shower

Ants were working furiously to get fresh leaves into their burrows

This trail too, finally went over rocks I wasn't willing to climb, covered as I was with my iPad, camera, and binoculars, so I turned around and retraced my steps to the car.  It was definitely a great day. 

Looking downstream at the Pedernales