Pace Bend State Park, Lake Travis
The first few days after Psych Fest I hung around the Austin area mostly reading but as the following weekend approached I headed west to Texas Hill Country, starting with the Lake Travis area. One of the most famous reservoirs created by damming the Colorado River, the long shoreline is full of houses, hotels, and parks that take advantage of the views of blue waters and rocky cliffs. I arrived at Pace Bend State Park just as the sky was clouding over and by the time I had found a secluded spot to set up camp dark clouds had swept in and the air had thickened with humidity. Thunder had been audible in the distance for a while, but deciding it was moving around rather than towards me I grabbed my trail map and headed to the North trailhead to start on the first of a few different loops on the numbered trail system.
The interior bluff ecosystem of Pace Bend was predictably brushy with expanses of dry meadows and not scenic in most parts, but there were some nice stretches, some cacti, and also some very pretty flowers I forgot to ask a park ranger to identify for me. Because Pace Bend is adjacent to the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge there were plenty of birds to be seen and heard as well, which presumably included the protected golden-cheek warbler and the black-capped vireo (pretty sure I actually saw the latter). Not a hiking destination by any means, the trails were nonetheless perfect for an easy afternoon walk and were able to be combined to create a suitable distance.
After arriving back at the trailhead I headed to the Mesquite Cove area and walked along the shore, watching as the clouds approached and the wind started gusting. Luckily the weather blew over within a few hours and by early evening the sun had appeared on the horizon which was all the encouragement I needed to go swim.
Finally, after drying off in the sun I headed back to camp to make dinner and watched the beautiful sun setting over the cliffs.