The storms disintegrated as our RV cruised across central Texas toward Austin. When we arrived at McKinney Falls State Park for 2 nights in the verdant silence of the forest here, the weather had blossomed into a brilliant, temperate Spring day. Once I recovered from the shock of the total cost of staying here, I left Storm napping and went on an exploration hike. Camping here is not cheap. They charge $24 per night, plus $6 per person per day for park fees, plus $5 per night for a trailer if you haul your car on one – the grand total of $41 per night is a little steep for a State Park with no sewer hookup. The park is a little wear worn throughout and the main visitor center is closed, but its location on the southern outskirts of town is fabulous for easy access with a big rig and short rides to visit the sights around Austin.
I arrived at the Upper Falls just in time to see three people make a very ill-advised attempt to cross the river upstream of the falls. I joined a bevy of non lifeguards (although one park employee was holding a throwable flotation device just in case) who offered warnings from the banks as at first 2, then 3 intrepid waders traversed thigh deep water toward the far riverbank. Fearing that I would capture injury or death, I did not video the high dive predicted by and subsequently witnessed by the unheeded shoreline choir. I will tell you that once I was certain of their survival, I did chuckle at the spectacle of these three young people as they ultimately lost their footing on the slippery bottom performing an un-choreographed aqua ballet toward the chute.
The first one blasted unimpeded over the falls as the second one grasped a handful of thin air trying to catch her. The third one (a guy and a latecomer to the performance) managed to latch on to the ankle of the second girl and hold her inverted at the top of the falls just below the water as the water flumes fought to pull them both over. The current prevailed and one by one the last 2 slid into the turbulent pool beneath the falls. They went over fully clothed with knapsacks strapped on foregoing even the minimal wooden barrel safety apparel of historic waterfall daredevils. While the soggy entertainers appeared OK when they resurfaced, I bet there was a drowned cellphone or 2 in the bunch.
Here is my report from this park: