Wildfire burning near Chisos Basin at Big Bend National Park

Flowers bloom along the South Rim at Big Bend National Park in this file photo by Reine Wonite for National Park Service.


Portions of Big Bend National Park remain closed today as fire crews work to put out a wildfire that burned more than 1,000 acres on Monday.

The Chisos Basin, including the Chisos Mountains Lodge and restaurant, the High Chisos Trail Complex, the Outer Mountain Loop (including the Dodson, Juniper Canyon and Blue Creek campsites), and the Glen Springs, Pine Canyon and Juniper Canyon roads and campsites are closed, according to the Big Bend National Park website.

Officials say a lightning strike near the Chisos Mountain area started the Crown Mountain fire on Sunday. The fire grew from about 650 acres Sunday to more than 1,000 acres on Monday. Three fire crews and a helicopter were working to extinguish the blaze, according to a telephone hotline at the park. The fire was considered 60 percent contained Monday evening.

The Odessa-American reported that the Chisos Basin Campground was evacuated so it could be used to stage fire crews and equipment. The lodge and restaurant were closed as a precaution, it reported.

Camping is available at Cottonwood and Rio Grande Village campgrounds and in the backcountry, and the Panther Junction Visitor Center is open as usual. Accommodations are also available in Terlingua, Alpine and Marathon.

A recorded message of current updates on closures is available by calling 432-477-2576. Check here for updates.

Hear Fit City talk about her Year of Adventure Wednesday at Whole Earth

A 15-day backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail inspired Pam LeBlanc’s Year of Adventure. Photo by Chris LeBlanc


A couple of weeks without soap, hot food or a flushing toilet on the John Muir Trail Last year changed my life.

LeBlanc will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the south location of Whole Earth Provisions. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

It nearly broke me, and I nearly quit more than once, but in the long run that 15-day backpacking trip sparked what’s become my Year of Adventure. I’m going to talk about how it happened and how it’s inspired me to try solo camping during a slide show and presentation Wednesday night at the south location of Whole Earth Provisions.

Come hear me speak at 7 p.m. at the Westgate Shopping Center location of the store, 4477 South Lamar Boulevard.

Got questions? Call me at 512-445-3994 or Whole Earth Provisions at 512-899-0992.

For more information go here.

Free yoga and beer at Hyatt Regency Austin

Pints & Poses will take place May 8 at the Hyatt Regency Austin. Participants get a free yoga class and a free beer. Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Austin


It’s time for the monthly free yoga and beer session over at the Hyatt Regency Austin.

The May “Pints & Poses” class starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the hotel, located next to Lady Bird Lake at 208 Barton Springs Road.

Ferny Barcelo, assisted by Zuzu Perkal, will lead the free flow yoga class, which will include live, meditative music from Trey Tarwater, a local yoga DJ. The class takes place in the Texas Ballroom on the hotel’s second floor. Guests are encouraged to bring their own mats.

Participants get a coupon for a free draft beer at the hotel’s Marker 10 bar. They also get free validated parking when they park in the hotel’s garage.

For more information, call (512) 477-1234, or go here. http://www.austin.hyatt.com

Want free breakfast? Ride your bike to work May 19!

Cyclists gather for free breakfast outside Whole Foods on Bike to Work Day in this file photo. Kelly West/American-Statesman


Bike to Work Day ranks high on my list of best days of the year.

Stations all over the city handing out free breakfast items and coffee to people who pedal to work? Not much better than that.

This year’s event is set for May 19, and more than 40 official locations will participate, along with a smattering of rogue stations that tend to pop up around town.

Bike Austin organizes the event as a way to thank regular commuters – but also as a way to get new bicyclists on the road. Cyclists who ride to work that day might find that it’s not as daunting as they thought, and continue to do it. And because more cyclists on the road means more motorists expect to see them there, it makes things safer for everyone.

“When someone’s new at doing something, if we can get them out of that comfort zone for one day to experience it in a fun environment … that and free food all over the city for one day might entice them to try it to get them over that fear that they can’t do this,” says Mercedes Feris, executive director of Bike Austin, a non-profit organization that works to promote cycling.

Last year, about 2,500 cyclists checked in at Bike to Work Day stations around the city, but Feris estimates than another 1,000 or so rode. That’s more cyclists than commute on a typical day here, but with more cycling infrastructure going in (a bike and pedestrian bridge over Barton Creek and a bypass

underneath 24th Street at Lamar Boulevard, for example), Feris expects those higher numbers to become the norm.

But back to that free breakfast …

More than 40 locations, including Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 South Lamar Boulevard; Hops and Grain Brewing, 507 Calles Street; Livestrong, 2201 East Sixth Street; and a roadside stand at Shoal Creek Boulevard near Treadwell Street, will offer up free food and coffee from 7-9 a.m. City Hall, 301 West Second Street, will host the biggest station, with booths from local bike businesses, breakfast tacos from Taco Deli, High Brew Coffee and Organic Lone Star from Texas Coffee Traders. To see a full list of locations, go here. http://biketoworkaustin.org/fuelingstations/

Cyclists can pick up a passport and collect stamps from each fueling station they visit, which will enter them into a raffle for door prize drawings at an after-party that starts at 5 p.m. at the Google Fiber Space, 201 Colorado Street.

This year organizers are asking cyclists to sign a pledge form before Bike to Work Day. That will allow officials to gather more data about where commuters are riding. Everyone who fills out the pledge form will be entered into a drawing to win a bicycle. Find the form here. http://biketoworkaustin.org/pledge-to-ride/

Don’t have a bike? Austin B-Cycle will provide free 24-hour memberships on Bike to Work Day. (Use code 519 at any B-Cycle kiosk.)

For more information go here.

Lifeguards, instructors needed at YMCA

Kate Winge leads an aqua yoga class at TownLake YMCA

Looking for a part-time job?

The Townlake YMCA needs lifeguards and swim instructors, ages 16 and up. Pay ranges from $9 to $12 an hour, based on experience and background, and includes a full membership to all Austin YMCA branches.

Aquatics director Andrea Fisher will provide certification training and ongoing education.

The Townlake YMCA is hiring lifeguards. Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman

It’s more about sitting on a lifeguard stand, she says. The YMCA, one of the largest non-profit organizations in the nation, provides a positive and rewarding work environment.

And no worries about skin damage or long days in the heat here – the pool is indoors.

Eight lifeguards and five instructors are needed at the downtown location, 1100 West Cesar Chavez Street.

For more information contact Andrea Fisher at andrea.fisher@austinymca.org.

New trail bypass of 24th Street opens on Shoal Creek


The long-awaited Shoal Creek hike and bike trail bypass of 24th Street has finally opened.

I glided along the smooth new trail, which parallels Lamar Boulevard, on my way to work this morning. It’s been a long time coming.

The trail is part of the $9.5-million Shoal Creek Restoration project between 15th and 28th streets, which includes about 3,000 linear feet of stream bank stabilization, relocation of waste water lines from the creek channel into the Lamar Boulevard right of way, and park trail improvements.

The project began in April 2014. It’s a collaborative between the Watershed Protection Department, Parks and Recreation Department, Austin Water Utility and Public Works Neighborhood Connectivity Division. (Read more here.)

Crews will continue to work on invasive plant species removal and landscaping.