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Austin TX and environs...
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Austin TX and environs... on 06/15/2013 19:28:23 MDT Print View

Okie dokie...I am taking the plunge, giving my notice at the end of this week, hiking the JMT in August, then moving to Austin! Ill be staying with my brother, sister-in-law and amazing little niece to save money, see her terrible 2s, and prepare for the PCT in 2014.

I am of the understanding that no one in Texas ever hikes or backpacks. I'd love to be wrong, and if you live near there I'd love to meet up, buy you a beer or six and maybe go on a trip...

Since I know no one other than my brother and his family, I'd be oh so happy to meet some fellow BPLers there.


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Austin TX and environs... on 06/15/2013 19:33:35 MDT Print View

Well you will have Gossamer Gear in the neighborhood.

Bon Voyage!

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
Not TX but close on 06/15/2013 19:35:00 MDT Print View


OK is close and a couple of us are always looking for hiking partners in the area.
Just FYI a couple of us are hiking the Oauchita Trail in November
It's OK-AR premier trail 230 ish miles. Please feel free to contact me if interested. We plan 12 days starting Nov 9th.

Hope your move goes great.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Austin TX and environs... on 06/15/2013 19:56:56 MDT Print View


Edited by jshann on 06/16/2013 08:06:25 MDT.

Rick M
(rmjapan) - F

Locale: London, UK
Re: Re: Austin TX and environs... on 06/15/2013 21:18:11 MDT Print View


Edited by rmjapan on 06/19/2015 14:33:01 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Austin TX and environs... on 06/15/2013 21:43:13 MDT Print View

I was joined last year on a trip to the Pecos by Ian Schumann who is a BPL member and full fledged Austinite. Great gent. Knowledgeable backpacker and UL gear aficionado.

He's not very active here on the forum, but drops in occasionally. One thing to note, he travels to NM to get his multiday backpacking fix- something to consider.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/15/2013 23:13:52 MDT Print View

Wait--aren't you still being sick? Please delay any "quit work" decisions until you are healthy, happy, and in a clear state of mind. Or else Doug might sic his pooch on you. And I'll send my rabid bunnies to Chi-town to hunt you down. Think clearly here, girl. Austin in the summer? What ya thinking? Spend some time there, enjoy their AC, then bolt up to Portland to set up the next chapter. My mileage may vary...

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/15/2013 23:18:48 MDT Print View

Me and Garys mileage is the same. I started to post earlier but it just ended up being a "I hate Texas" post so I refrained.

...But here I go again...

Yeah, don't mess w/ Texas. as in- don't go there


Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Keep Austin Weird on 06/16/2013 00:34:39 MDT Print View

Jennifer, hiking and backpacking opportunities within a reasonable driving distance Austin are indeed limited. Will you return there after the JMT? Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountain NP in West Texas are fun in the late fall and winter, but long drives from civilization.

Austin is a great town with great music and all the attractions of the university town that it is. And the friendliest people i've ever encountered. When I moved to Dallas 27 years ago I was made welcome from the day I arrived - the only place where I've seen no distinction between natives and newcomers. Must be something good about a place who's motto is Keep Austin Weird. And a hockey team named the Ice Bats.

I'll go through my contacts and PM you with some prospects.

Glad to read that the journey has begun.


Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 06:37:49 MDT Print View

I know, I know. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of Texas. But here is my plan:

Last day of work: July 26.
July 27-Aug 20: hike JMT, visit a bit with my uncle in San Francisco.
August 20-aug 2?: pack up what I haven't sold, move most of it to storage
Drive me, the pooch, and the kitty (who doesn't backpack, by the way), to my brother's house in Austin.

I am going to be doing contract/travel PT stuff in Austin until April, trying some desert hikes; a very good friend lives on a Hopi reservation in NE AZ so we'll meet up for some desert trips. long as I can save enough's PCT 2014!! I plan to just stay in the PNW when I'm done.

The Austin thing is because I finally have a niece, my brother is very homesick and would love for me to spend some time with them, and he has a guest house where I can live rent free for several months. Of course, he seems to think I am saving to move to Portland...he conveniently forgot the PCT bit. His response? "You can't do that. You'll be a bum!"

Yep, I say. Exactly.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 07:43:50 MDT Print View

OK, Jen, you're good. I like your plan after all. I'll take my rabid bunnies off red alert now.

Nah, cats don't do well on the trail. Both times I took cats car camping, they bolted as soon as I opened the door and I didn't see them for 24+ hours.

I wish you the best with your upcoming adventure. You'll miss Uno's pizza though...

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 08:32:59 MDT Print View

Anyone want to buy an uber cheap condo in one of Chicago's coolest neighborhoods??

Or maybe just some bookshelves?

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 09:02:09 MDT Print View

Of course, he seems to think I am saving to move to Portland...he conveniently forgot the PCT bit. His response? "You can't do that. You'll be a bum!"

Well he just assumes you are driving/flying to Portland. No need to tell him you are walking there from San Diego. As per hikes, there's big bend and the guads when they cool down towards fall/winter. Spring sees 70 mph winds east of El Paso. If you are up for NE AZ, why not Grand Canyon or saguaro?

Edited by hknewman on 06/16/2013 09:05:40 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 09:34:11 MDT Print View

Well he just assumes you are driving/flying to Portland. No need to tell him you are walking there from San Diego.

Excellent reframing, sir! A++ would laugh again.

Jen, there's rivers down there (or so I've been told). Maybe make a friend that has a canoe (or just sell that cuben duomid to me for cheap and get a packraft. ;)

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 13:33:24 MDT Print View

Ok. That was awesome. I will use it.....,

I run and I bike, and both of those are quite popular in Austin. My brother also lives next to a few rather nice running and biking trails, including one that would be on my dog-walk-route.

Ill be meeting up with my AZ friend for some backpacking, but I certainly won't be getting the 10-12 night/month fix I get here :(
I guess I'll just have to set up that sweet cuben duomid in his backyard and just sleep there a few nights a week. Cook on my CC on the back deck...

And I will probably be selling a whole bunch of down stuff this winter....doubt ill need it this year!!

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 20:47:15 MDT Print View

Re winter backpacking in/around Austin -- I recall setting up our now-ancient NF mountain tent in snow on a golf course greenway near downtown Austin one winter.

As noted by others, lack of public land around Austin is a big drawback.

A few places can be found, though, short of driving all the way to Big Bend NP (which nevertheless is definitely well worth the drive).

One getaway spot near Austin is Enchanted Rock State Park with short hikes, some walk-in primitive camping, and a big "enchanted" rock to "climb" --

Lots of pics of Enchanted Rock State Park --

Pedernales State Park is another place near Austin with short hikes and walk-in primitive camping, plus a river (no license required to fish in Texas state parks, not even for non-residents) ---

Padre Island Nat'l Seashore is nice, too. Strong winds when we camped there; sites fronting the Gulf especially good for tent-testing (broken pole) --

Check out Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, about half hour SE of Austin.

That's for eating (BYOB), not camping (but there's a campground with primitive sites along Onion Creek, right across the road from the Salt Lick - how convenient is that!).

Edited by JRScruggs on 06/16/2013 20:58:46 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/16/2013 22:11:26 MDT Print View

Thinking out of the box in Austin could spring about some fresh "microadventures", a term Alistair Humphreys coined for his adventures that are: "close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective".

Here's a quote from his website that I enjoy.

"You do not need to fly to the other side of the planet to do an expedition.
You do not need to be an elite athlete, expertly trained, or rich to have an adventure.

Adventure is only a state of mind.
Adventure is stretching yourself; mentally, physically or culturally. It is about doing what you do not normally do, pushing yourself hard and doing it to the best of your ability.

And if that is true then adventure is all around us, at all times. Even during hard financial times such as these. Times, I believe, when getting out into the wild are more enjoyable, invigorating and important than ever."

Get to the core of what draws you outside and you'll probably find it in and around Austin.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/17/2013 00:22:14 MDT Print View

Enchanted rock


Colorado bend


Big bend


You can google them. The basin at big bend is actually ok in the summer. It is in the mountains so you usually avoid the 80 degree nights.

All the state parks in and around central texas and the hill country are smaller. I can do them with a day each, but if you are looking for some bag nites they can work fine. Just not so great from may-August. But November - April are fine. You can enjoy mainly empty parks in the winter which is nice.

Don't let all the bashing of Texas get you down. The hill country is gorgeous, lots of biking, and Austin will probably suit you. It's liberal, young, and vibrant. Great music scene. Also the airport is close and easy if you need to escape.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/17/2013 02:40:50 MDT Print View

Yep, Hill Country around Austin is great! Especially bluebonnets in the Spring.

Austin, too, even though it has libs running out its ying yang ;>)

Might want to check out --

Luckenbach and its picker's circle -

Kayak outing to see Congress Avenue Bridge Bats at sunset -

Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas -

ACL Live (Buddy Guy on 8/31! Joe Bonamassa on 11/30!) -

ACL Music Festival in October -

Old Settler's Music Festival @ Driftwood in April -

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/17/2013 22:30:13 MDT Print View

Oh. And if you like BBQ, you can do better than the Salt Lick. Just saying...

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Re: Re: Re: Wait a minute, Jen... on 06/17/2013 23:05:39 MDT Print View

I agree . . . and home-cooking on the grill beats it all --

Grilled Lobster

Ian Schumann

Locale: Central TX
Austin etc on 06/18/2013 08:12:16 MDT Print View

Agreed heartily with Michael L's list of places and seasons. Of particular note, Enchanted Rock becomes a truly enchanted wonderland after a good storm. I've made it a point in the last few years to get out there if I ever see big weather coming to the region over the weekend. The whole granite scene comes alive with flowing water through every ravine and fissure in the monolith -- it's a sight to behold.

Basically if you want to get away for a quick night or two, you're limited to backpacking in the small-ish state parks and natural areas that are within 1-3 hours drive from Austin. Most good things are west of Austin, since going east quickly takes you into a rather boring and long coastal plain(ish) that stretches on down to the gulf of mexico. East-southeast, I guess you'd say.

Of those little state parks within weekend-shot of Austin, my favorites are consistently Lost Maples, Enchanted Rock, and Hill Country State Natural Area. Generally, unfortunately, you'll be required to bring your own water on whatever trip you take through those areas. But hey, it's just a night or two, and you can't hike more than 5-10 miles through those places.

Further afield of Austin, there are good opportunities in: Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains, and Snake River. The lattermost, I've never visited, but I've at least heard promising things about it. Big Bend is, I might hazard, the best backpacking in the state, and it will take you at least 2-3 trips to really exhaust the main route possibilities there, which is great. If you're hardy and don't mind carrying a lot of water, you could probably spend a couple of years hiking through the less-traveled desert routes out there.

Finally, as Eugene said earlier -- when I want to do some real backpacking, I get on over to the lower rockies in NM. The drive is somewhere between 10 and 14 hours, depending on where exactly you're headed. Getting up the interstate to Colorado doesn't take much longer than that, once you're already in NM. The possibilities in those state, of course, are endless. My favorite areas in NM are Pecos and Wheeler Peak, which can both easily be reached in the timeframe given above.


And THEN finally, within Austin, there are numerous DIAD activities that will keep you exploring for years. There are caves to crawl through; there's the waterfront with kayaking, canoing, and stand-up paddleboarding; there's running along about a dozen different trails, from easy crushed granite along the waterfront to the backwoods of Bull Creek; and if you want to challenge yourself with some day-hike training, you can yo-yo the entire Barton Creek Greenbelt for a total distance of 14 miles. Then, after those things ... there are a thousand other things. Rock climbing at about 10 different crags in the Austin area, or three different indoor gyms. A vibrant biking scene with numerous weekly social rides or more serious training groups. The list goes on and on.

Not to mention, Austin is probably overall one of the most hip cities in the whole country. This is somewhat of a recent phenomenon, as the city that I grew up in (in the 80s and 90s) was somewhat undiscovered and still a *little bit* quiet. But now it's roaring and growing and fuming with new fancy restaurants, thousands of live music performances every month, events downtown and in the public spaces every weekend, huge festivals that draw giant crowds from around the country, and just lots of really cool people doing experimental, innovative, progressive things. All while staying relatively chill, un-starched, and playful. It's really a neat town.

The only downside to all this, is it's becoming rather expensive to live anywhere near the center of town. And Austin natives like myself are becoming somewhat of a rarity.


Hope this is helpful :-)

mark henley
(flash582) - F
Oh no you don't! on 06/18/2013 09:02:45 MDT Print View

Don't misguide this lady into thinking there is no backpacking in Texas! 20 miles north of Austin is the good water trail, a 26 mile loop around Lake Georgetown, one of my favorite venues. Back country hiking at its finest, courtesy of the Army corp of engineers. There's a smaller trail in Roundrock, a 8 mile trail at nails creek, Hill Counrty state natural area, and less than 4 hours away you have the 120 mile long Lone Star Trail as well as the Davy Crocket national forest.

Then check out, the new thirty mile trail in the Austin area.

There are other little gems as well ....


PS .... You are only about 12 hours away from the southern terminus of the AT as well

Edited by flash582 on 06/18/2013 09:05:33 MDT.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Oh no you don't! on 06/20/2013 09:40:19 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone! This is very helpful!
I have spent a great deal of time in Austin over the past decade, and my brother and I have taken the dogs on lots of cool "green belts" and state parks...including enchanted rock. Some nice little gems around there. I guess I pretty much assumed that with the lack of public lands in the state the wouldn't be much for backcountry overnighters....

Now on to my original point as well...I don't know anyone there except my brother, sister in law and niece. Soooo....if anyone is up for joining me on a trip I'd be game :)

It would be nice to meet some backpacking/gear nerd peeps......