2014-07-22 - Austin Texas Walnut Creek Trail Segment

~7 miles @ ~11.3 min/mi

Bright star Aldebaran twinkles close by an old crescent moon, low in the east at 0515. It's the last day of my visit to Texas. Thanks to Pam LeBlanc, "Austin American-Statesman" newspaper fitness columnist, I've got a mission. LeBlanc's essay yesterday was about the Southern Walnut Creek Trail, a bikepath that goes within a few miles of my Mom's home. Unaware, I ran past it on Saturday. Now's a chance to explore a segment.

First, though, jog to LBJ High School track for a brisk lap (1:50) to enhance the trackfile, swinging wide around puddles in Lane 1 and backtracking when done to wet the sweaty head with spray from infield water sprinklers. A cigarette lighter flickers a block away as the only other pedestrian in the neighborhood lights up. At the Loyola Ln onramp, join the trail.

The bikeway is a pale ribbon lit by skyglow, meandering parallel to the stream, dashed line barely visible down the center. Brushy weeds encroach from the sides. Occasional spiderwebs span the path and prove that I'm the first to pass through this morning. A gravel lane to one side leads to a sign. Read it by cellphone screen gleam: "Welcome to Burr Field". Big locked gates seem rather unwelcoming. After a golf course take the bridge over Walnut Creek and then turn onto a proper side trail to US-183 at a big YMCA near 51st Street.

Across the highway the real adventure begins: follow a dirt-and-gravel rutted track through Little Walnut Creek Park. Shoes gain a couple of pounds of mud in a boggy valley. Eventually the truck road climbs up to a water treatment facility, where fortunately a chain holding the barbed-wire-topped gate is loose enough to let a skinny person squeeze past. Final miles are fast, though soggy-shirt friction makes for blood on the chest and a wince in the shower afterwards. Route information is recorded by Runkeeper and Garmin.

^z - 2014-08-08