Q:  What dangers might I encounter on the trails?

A: McKinney Roughs has a lot of the normal hazards you would expect while letterboxing anywhere – poison ivy (especially in the wetter areas near the river), stinging nettles, thorny plants, and so on.  Some things that non-Texans might not expect are scorpions and venomous snakes.  These are rare, but nonetheless, it is always advisable to watch your step and refrain from sticking your hand in holes or under rocks without checking them out first.  Mosquitoes don’t seem to be much of problem, especially in the drier upland areas, but a little bug spray couldn’t hurt.  Austin is generally considered to be too dry for ticks, so Lyme disease is pretty unlikely, but a nightly tick check isn’t a bad idea, especially if you’ve gone off trail a lot during the day.  One thing northerners should be extra careful about is cactus.  Avoid brushing up or touching any cactus (even ones that look spineless can have tiny hair-like spines), and don’t assume a spine can’t puncture right through the sole of your shoe and get you.  Final thing to mention – fire ants!  You don’t want to tangle with those, so be careful where you stand and stay away from ant hills of any kind.  If you do get bitten by fire ants, numb the area with ice and be prepared for several days of intense itching.

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