Hot Springs National Park located in Hot Springs, AR. I have heard good and bad about this park. I saw both while at the park. It was weird going to a national park in the downtown of a midsize city. I did not like the heavy city traffic and their was no easy way to get to the visitor center. The parking situation was interesting at best. The best entrance I found was at the Gulpha Gorge campground. It was also where I parked because of a road closure and I did not want to park in the city. The trails were great and clearly marked. As previously stated, it would be hard to get lost on these Arkansas trails. They are more clearly marked than the state park trails. The signs on the trails give you distance and direction. This was also a special hike since it was my 52nd hike of the 52 Hike Challenge. It might not have been a summit or a waterfall hike but it some majestic views.
The majority of my hike was on Goat Rock Trail and Hot Springs Mountain Trail. The trails have a good bit of elevation change and good views. As it has been noted in my previous blogs about this trip, the trees that make the hike great also create obstructed views.
I am going to have to reblog this hike as a picture only hike soon. I am having technical difficulties. Nevermind I got it down.
I am going back to trail running for the next blog.
I returned to Lake Catherine State Park to hike to the highest point of this park. Once again the trails were well maintained and clearly marked. Also the trees were great to see but blocked most of the good views. I really liked this hike because it was a simple summit. I did not want to be challenged to much after all the hiking and trail running I had done the previous two days.
Horseshoe Mountain Trail was the last trail at the state park I would hike. I am glad I got the chance to hike this trail. It had some amazing views and was quiet and peaceful. There was nothing special on the trail but it was a summit type trail since it climbed to the highest point in the park. It was steep most of the way with a little flat section before the final incline.
I was a little disappointed of no waterfall but I did enjoy my time at this park. Maybe next time the waterfall will be flowing and Dam Mountain Trail will be open.
Next trail is in a national park with one spectacular view and a challenge completed.
I really need a good camera. I had another day of not great sun light. I digress, this is almost a part two of my first trip to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I wanted to hike/climb to the summit at that time. I did not get a chance because of the crazy heat. The state park is located on the west side of Little Rock, AR. The mountain has four trails that go around and up and down the mountain. The rest of the park also has about four trails in which I had already hiked on my first trip. The summit trail is what I wanted to do and finally completed. I bonus on this trip is that I got to do a trail race on one of the trails around the base of the mountain. I will blog on that race later.
I had two options on trails to the summit. I took the relatively less difficult summit trail but they both looked equally strenuous.
I quickly found out that hiking in Arkansas is easy to follow but heed the warnings. I hiked the entire weekend without trail maps. I have a tendency to get lost but the trails are clearly marked and they have signs at every split in the trail.
As a bonus, they have trail markers that tell you where you are on the trail. It was nice to have the peace of mind not ever being lost. I was making decisions on what path to take depending on what I wanted to see.
The hike itself was very strenuous and I had a great time getting to the summit. The only thing I did not like was that the trail was very crowded. This was the first time I had hiked on a trail that was this crowded. I usually see around ten people or less per hike. I saw around 100 people on this hike. It was hard to get pictures with all those people. I could not get a good one without people in the shot. I got to the summit and had such a feeling of accomplishment. I just wanted to yell but I would have scared the other twenty plus people already on the summit. I just soaked in the view took many pictures and headed back down the trail.
The pictures from the summit were nice but seeing it live was much better. I also got a little surprise on my way down the trail with a wish stump.
The hike was awesome and I need to get back to Arkansas and hike to some more summits.
The next blog is back at Lake Catherine SP for another summit.
I decided to step up my mileage by doing a 5 miler. I found a very cool challenge put on by the Waco Striders Running Club called the Huaco Cuatro. The first of this four leg challenge was at Cameron Park in Waco, TX. I did not look at a course map nor did I see the terrain of the course. I have driven through Waco many many times and the entire city looked flat. I will get to that surprise in a bit. I got up early to make the hour and a half drive to the race. The weather for the race was great. It was a bit humid but not bad for spring time in Texas. I did not have a problem finding the park but I could not find the start. I was doing race day packet pick up so I was planning on getting there forty five minutes early so I have time to get my bib and get ready to run. I was at the park but I could not find where I was suppose to go. I was asking people where this part of the park was and they did not know. While I was driving around lost for thirty minutes, I realized this park is very hilly. I could tell that the hills were steep but it was hard to tell how steep the hills were from driving. I was really about to give up until I took one more drive up a long hill and just kept going like I was leaving the park. All of a sudden another parking lot was on the horizon and that was where I needed to be. I got there after packet pick was over but they let me get it anyway. The race started five minutes late and I was ready two minutes late. The group of runners were friendly and so were the race presenters. I liked the atmosphere of the race and I am glad I found the start. I was still a little nervous about the distance. I have never done a run this long. I did not even do training runs this long at this time. The race did not go well for me. The run was actually 5.7 miles of the toughest hills I have ever run. The distance combined with the crazy steep and long hills were leg killing. I have never experienced hills like these. The race director must like putting runners through pain. If the hills were not enough the last mile was mostly straight up another agonizing hill to the finish. I was just happy to survive. I was also questioning doing the next three races. The post race refreshments consist of the normal bananas and water which are a must for me plus some awesome breakfast burritos. This still has been the toughest race of the year for me. I have done longer races but nothing like these hills.
I have run much more since this torture race and recently did a 7.5 training run in the same time I finished this race.
After a sanity check, I prepared for my third race in three weeks with a trip to the Houston area again.