Friday, October 23, 2009

Austin Greenbelt

The weather here has been perfect lately. Today's forecast was a high of 72, sunny, no humidity. Last weekend was the same and I was itching to do something outside but I didn't know what to do or who to call. I went on a couple bike rides and resolved to plan something for this weekend to take advantage of the pristine Texas skies. I did some research and discovered the Greenbelt, 8 miles of hiking trails within Austin. Among Austin's multiple nicknames is "A City Within a Park" and today gave me some insight why.

I asked a girlfriend if she would join me for the hike. She's been in Austin for about four years and has been very encouraging of my will to discover this city; she also has a "down for anything" attitude that makes her a great companion for a new venture. Last weekend I thought about hiking the Greenbelt by myself but didn't think that was wise; a single girl on a hiking trail sounds like the premise for a horror movie. Thankfully and unsurprisingly, Laura was happy to check out the Greenbelt with me.

She picked me up at my apartment around 11:30 and we both confessed that we were slightly hungover. I was glad we were on the same page and we agreed this would be a leisurely hike and hopefully not too strenuous. The hike turned out to be precisely that.

The path paralleled a creek, which would intermittently break into a waterfall. The trail led us through wooded areas, and through meadows of stunning yellow wildflowers. When we were walking through one of the wildflower meadows, I suddenly smelled something rotten. We continued walking and then at the same time we both looked down and screamed; on the trail was the leg of a dead animal, with a hoof (see the picture above). We couldn't decide if it was a deer or a goat but we were sufficiently creeped out. After seeing the appendage, Laura and I were especially on edge. We would hear a lizard in the bushes or a bird in a tree and gasp. We decided this would be a good time to turn around.

Notably, I saw my first wild cacti (and of course subsequently pricked my finger). The trail was more of a walk than a hike but by the time we were done we had been in the Greenbelt for almost three hours and walked 7 or 8 miles. The perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon.

Reason #11 I love Austin: The Greenbelt.

Reason #12 I love Austin: On the way back to my apartment we drove past Zilker park and I saw a naked man riding his bike on one of the paths!

P.S. Happy Birthday, dad!

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