Palo Duro Canyon State Park Day 1

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the Panhandle Region of Texas. It is about thirty minutes south of Amarillo. The Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States and is a gorgeous sight to see. I loved this place the minute I stepped out of the car. I have never seen anything like this in my life. I love that it has been a year of going to Texas state parks and I can still say I am seeing things that I have never seen previously. We have wanted to go here before as a family but the cabins have always been booked. I finally got a cabin at the park and I could not pass it up. I booked it and off I went. It had been raining most of the drive to the park but I was lucky that most of the rain was out of the park the day before I got there and it did not rain the day I was there. I was hoping for clear skies and cool weather. I was blessed with both on the two days I was hiking. It was a six hour drive with one stop and some of the drive was boring but other parts were scenic. I like going through the small towns I have heard about through high school sports. I hear about a six man football  powerhouse or a 1A basketball team that is undefeated and then I drive through that city, for me it is pretty cool. OK back to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, I did the CCC Trail on this day. The trail goes around the rim of the north end of the canyon and down to the amphitheater and back. I wanted to get started early but I was delayed getting to my cabin and plus the electricity was out at the cabin. I had a portable charger and a flashlight so that would not be a problem but I was not prepared for temperatures in the teens. I knew the cabin had a heater but with no electricity it was going to be cold. Eventually the power was fixed and I did not freeze. The hike was awesome and seeing all the colors of the canyon was mind blowing.  I was so amazed at the layers of rock and how brilliant the colors projected. 20171219_161533.jpg20171219_144219.jpg20171219_172527.jpg20171219_170708.jpg20171219_170359.jpg20171219_162912.jpg20171219_152414.jpg

Once I saw these pictures I knew I needed a better camera than my phone camera. I have a great camera on my phone but I am not good at taking pictures so I need a better point and shoot camera.

This also hike 4 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. The first three hikes were in my previous blogs on my second trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

My next blog is day two at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

2017 My Top 10 Places Hiked

My last blog of the year is a review of the best places I have hiked this year. I was going to do a list of top ten hikes but I could not narrow it down to a good twenty. Plus the order would change as I was thinking about which hike should be placed on the list. I decided on places because it was easier but not easy. The top ten was not too difficult but the order was very hard. I did about 60 hikes this calendar year and they were spread out the entire twelve months. I had to compare the recent fresh in my mind place with a place that was hiked ten to eleven months ago. The ten places I have chosen, I have or will hike multiple times. Two places I have hiked but not blogged about yet. The ten places cover three states, a national park and a wildlife refuge.

10. Cedar Ridge Preserve-Minutes away from home and is one of the most scenic areas in Dallas County. hike2220171124_121348.jpg

9. Hot Springs National Park-This quaint cozy park has some great views. 20171112_103833.jpg20171112_103709.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park-The Texas hill country is all over this list.20170406_131314.jpg20170122_130731.jpg

7. Pinnacle Mountain State Park-The second Arkansas park and a summit hike.20171111_141701.jpg20171111_082716.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA-The park is more than The Rock. Hidden gems everywhere.20170406_092524.jpg20170122_102656.jpg

5. Lost Maples SNA-A nature made amphitheater with great trees, waterfalls and views.20170711_182026.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge-This place has everything. Summits and waterfalls.20171208_162255.jpg20171001_111717.jpg

3. Caprock Canyon State Park-Home of the official bison herd of Texas. Plus canyon views.20171220_124508.jpg20171220_122602.jpg

2. Colorado Bend State Park-Gorman Falls is amazing but that is just the start.20170405_143431.jpg20170405_134311.jpg

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park-The second largest canyon in the USA.20171220_082257.jpg20171219_144321.jpg

These top ten places that I have hiked in 2017 maed this a memorable and fantastic year. Next year I hope to have a totally different list of places.

Post Oak Falls Wichita Mountains

My adventures to waterfalls this year have been hit or miss. I have had some surprises and some disappointments. I was really hoping that Post Oak Falls would be one of those falls that would leave me breathless. So far every hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has lived up to or exceeded my expectations. Post Oak Falls was a mix of surprise and disappointment. The waterfall was dry when I got to Post Oak Falls so that was the disappointment. The surprise was what the waterfall could have been if it was flowing. There was some water frozen on the cliff where the waterfall would have been. The waterfall was somewhat hidden in a narrow cove almost like it was on a side trail. It was a very cool place to find a waterfall. I hike to the waterfall and back was a moderate hike. It had some elevation change, challenging footing and bushwacking. The hike also had nice views of the mountains, Post Oak Creek and Treasure Lake.20171209_102141.jpg20171209_103634.jpg20171209_103638.jpg20171209_103507.jpg20171209_105210.jpg20171209_105738.jpg

Hopefully the next time I am here, it would have rained several inches so I can get a good view of Post Oak Falls flowing. I believe this can be one of the more impressive waterfalls.

Next up is a best of 2017 blog. I was going to do a top 10 hike list but there are too many to chose from. I am going to do a 2017 top 10 places I have hiked this year list.

Elk Mountain Wichita Mountains

This was definitely one of my favorites hikes of the year. I had a second chance to hike Elk Mountain and I made the most of it. The summit of Elk Mountain was spectacular. It was a freezing morning when I started hiking but warmed up near the top. It was great to have the summit to myself.  The chance to take in my surroundings in peace was awesome. The views from the top were incredible. It was cold and windy but that did not bother me at all, just being at the summit was enjoyable. After several minutes of picture taking and wandering around the summit I headed back down to the trail head. The biggest problem is that the trail is not marked so I got lost on the way down several times. I was blessed to find a hiking buddy with a GPS app that was working on the way down but we still got off trail twice. The trip down was an extra three quarters of a mile of pleasant views. This is a good starter summit hike for hikers. It is definitely not easy but not too hard. You will have to do some bouldering but nothing too difficult. It was a nice hike on a cold clear day.20171209_082322.jpg20171209_083039.jpg20171209_085244.jpg20171209_085830.jpg20171209_085622.jpg20171209_090924.jpg20171209_090817.jpg

I absolutely loved this hike and will definitely do it again. The entire wildlife refuge is beautiful and the summit of Elk Mountain gives a great view of some of it.

The next blog is my last hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and a waterfall hike.

Forty Foot Hole Wichita Mountains

I decided on December 1st 2017 to do another 52 Hike Challenge. I completed my first challenge this year in 46 weeks. The challenge I just finished was the Adventure Challenge. The hikes had to include things like waterfalls, sunset/sunrise, group, reflective, bucket list amd others. This challenge will entail 52 different hikes. I did repeat a few hikes last time but this time no repeating. I am also going to try to finish some trails I did not finish last year.

The Forty Foot Hole is located in the Wichita Mountains in Lawton, OK. This is my second visit and I got to finish this trail from the opposite direction. This side of the trail did not have all the waterfalls but had one nice one. The Forty Foot Hole was amazing. I hiked the rim and then hiked along the river. I could not believe how picturesque this place looked at dusk. I wish I had more time here but I was looking for another trailhead in which I did not find until it was dark. I will be back here to do some more hiking.20171208_162030.jpg20171208_160150.jpg20171208_164933.jpg20171208_162255.jpg20171208_173832.jpg20171208_173613.jpg

This was another fun trip. I did not see a buffalo this time but I did see the biggest elk I have ever seen. This place is great and well worth a return trip to finish off some other hikes I want to complete.

My next hike continues in the Wichita Mountains but this time it is a summit hike.

Race the Base 4M

The last trail race of the year was at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The morning of the race was freezing, really. The temperature was thirty degrees. The race only had one distance option so I was hoping not to come in last. I think there were more road runners on the course than trail runners. The runners seemed more aggressive on the trail and tended not to move to the right when a faster runner was passing. Plus it was the middle of fall and leaves were all over the trail. Leaves on the trail do two things, first they are slick and secondly they hide roots and rocks. They made the race very difficult because the course had more roots and rocks than any other trail race I had run. With all that being said the race was enjoyable and extremely scenic. The mountain was a nice sight and the parks in Arkansas are always nice. My time of 53:45:06 was not too bad considering they threw in a super steep and long hill at the end. The course was odd in the way it was flat but with only steep inclines and declines. I came in the bottom half overall, gender and age group but was not last. IMG_0934.JPG20171111_082716.jpg20171111_082502.jpgIMG_0745.JPGIMG_0747.JPG

I did like the run but will not do it again next year. I did like the fact that I got to hike Pinnacle Mountain, Hot Springs NP and Lake Catherine SP. I also like the race shirt and finisher’s cup.

I will back to blogging about my hikes. I have done six hikes so far. I have the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I have a great problem because five of the six hikes were so amazing that I cannot believe that I can find better places to hike.

Chupacabra 5K

This was the final race of the Huaco Cuatro trail race series. I chose the 5K distance early so I stuck with it instead of moving up in distance to the 15K. Plus I was probably not ready for a 15K on this course. The course is similar to the 8K course I ran earlier this year. I would be not surprised by the difficult course this time. I have really become to like running not only in this series but in Waco also. This was the coldest race of the series. It was close to freezing in the morning and I was going to wear gloves but decided against it but I did wear several layers. I had a couple of runners recognize me from the first three races. We joked around me getting first place in the last race. I also talked to the president of the Waco Striders Running Club again. There was a mix up with the final series plaque and she straightened out. This race also had people from all over the country. There were runners from Washington state and Colorado. Of course, a bunch of runners from all across Texas. I ended up third at this race with a time of 45:05 minus 3 minutes because they start the time when the longer races start and do not restart the time when the last race starts. I was just barely out of the bottom quarter for all males. The race was overall very fast and I was pleased of my result. At the end of the race I had the realization that the 5K distance is getting too short. I came down the finishing stretch and was thinking this was over quick. I am getting use to running 10Ks and training runs of 4+ miles.

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The t-shirt design was cool.20171028_114811.jpg

The plaque for the four finisher medals was also nice. I also picked up a first and a third place medal in the series. I plan to do the series again but with increasing distances for each race. After the race, I had a long day with a brewery costume tour and a Halloween party to finish off the day.

My last trail race of the year is going to be out of state. I will also get some hiking in and finishing up the 52 Hike Challenge.