The wild side of Houston could certainly be found , Downtown, Midtown, Montrose, Washington Avenue and Rice Village to names few. No, the wild side I am referring to is on the north end of Lake Houston and specifically up the East Fork of the San Jacinto River including Peach Creek and Caney Creek. I had visited the area several years ago and have followed the news of it’s transformation, an ongoing transformation. More on the transformation later. My daughter Lisa is prepping for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer here in Houston April 20th and 21st. It is a challenging trek and she has 5+ weeks to get ready for it. She lives near our home in Kingwood. Kingwood is blessed with an amazing maze of trails through the greenbelt and woods surrounding the community. I suggested we try branching out and explore the Lake Houston Wilderness Park. http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/ourparks/lakehoustonpark.html
Our first visit was late Sunday afternoon the third of March. We chose the Ameritrail, a 10 mile loop if done in it’s entirety. Due to waning sunlight we wanted to get a few miles in and explore a little. We followed the blue dots on the trees delineating the Ameritrail for about 2.5 miles then spun around and returned. It was a well maintained trail pretty much following Peach Creek. Peach Creek finally joins up with Caney Creek and becomes Caney Creek until it joins up with the East Fork of the San Jacinto River. Sunday’s walk was brief but whetted the appetite to do the entire loop. I carried my big heavy camera and lens, Nikon D-200 and the 80-400mm Nikon lens, a very heavy load …. I promised to better equipped to carry my gear when we returned. The park is home to a handful of wintering Bald eagles and I was hoping to be lucky enough to capture a shot or two.
Yesterday, the 7th of March Lisa and I prepared to tackle the full loop. We gathered our gear, I took the big camera again but used my camera back pack. In the top pouch I included my Nikon J1 with telephoto zoom along with the standard lens. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to capture wildlife with the D-200 but I will share a shot that happened quite by chance. The only wildlife spotted on our previous jaunt was a single doe standing off in the shadows watching us. Our second trip was quite a bit more exciting.
Our first glimpse of the wild side was a single coyote the slowly meandered into the trail in front of us. Both cameras were safely tucked away in the back pack, darn! The coyote stopped in the trail, casually glanced our direction a went 0-60 in about 2.2 seconds. I decided that I needed to be better prepared so for the remainder of the hike I kept the J1 in hand with the telephoto in place. A bit later a very large shadow of a bird passed over us. I quickly looked up and there was a Bald eagle soaring by at a quick clip. The wing span is breathtaking – it appeared to be 6 or 7 feet across. The trees limited both picture taking and viewing but for that brief moment it was awesome!
We should have been more patient breaking for lunch….. a half mile or so along the path was a beautiful small lake ringed with Cypress trees.
While hiking I kept pointing out to Lisa many of the patches of torn up ground due to the rooting nature of the wild hogs. I also told her not to worry, they are seldom seen during daylight hours, preferring to rototill the soil in the dark of night. Not long after our stop at the lake I spotted another coyote lurking in the brush off to the left of the trail. He spotted us but slinked away, not like he was running away. It looked more like he was trying to hide in the dense brush. A moment later I saw a wild pig step out in the broad trail in front of us. I managed a picture or two but really wish the other camera had been in my hands. It turned out to be a sow and she was followed by 8 or so piglets. I missed the shot as they were strung out chasing momma across the trail but got a little piece of them in one photo. Lisa said they were so cute! Not sure I agree. I think the coyote had a pulled pork meal on his mind.
We finished the long walk tired, a little confused due to the lack of trail markings on the return loop and ready to sit for a bit. My app logged our trip at 11 miles. It was a good jaunt. I guessed correctly on the trail that diverges from a long section of two track back to the nature center. What I discovered when chatting with the young park ranger was that they are in the state of finishing a lot of work to finalize trails, facilities and markings. Campgrounds are not yet finished in some places and the archery range has been cleared but is planned for some time in the future.
We visited the Kingwood Farmer’s market on our return home but that will be another story…..
If you would like to help Lisa Decker and the Avon Breast Cancer Walk ….Follow the link….