So every(one) that has been following this blog is probably waiting for good substantive information of places to hike. This will not be the blog post you are looking for. I am going to give some useful information about hiking tools and what my personal preferences are for hiking. We will start with the feet. I prefer Nike Elite socks, any color, they are sturdy buy light weight and very comfortable. Now for shoes I like Hi Tec Altitude Lite and previously I hiked in Hi Tec Altitude V and for the more snobbish hiker I also loved my Timberland Chocorua’s. As for pants I go with 5,11 Taclite Pro pants. The pants are light but tough and extremely comfortable. I never hike in shorts. I do not like the feeling of grass and stuff on my legs. A thermal pullover long sleeve shirt for cold weather hikes and any graphic tee for warmer weather hikes and I always have an undershirt. A boonie hat is also a must for head protection. I use to hike with a large fanny pack but now any light weight day backpack is good. Snacks are usually a personal preference but beef jerky and peanut butter crackers are my favorites. I have tips for hiking but most more than likely already know this stuff. If you are taking pictures with your camera have it on landscape, I actually picked my phone just because of the camera. If you are in Texas, checking out the state parks are a must hike. I always check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife website. I also like using the Kamp-Rite cot tent. I do not like being on the ground so this tent is off the ground and comfortable. The only problem is that it is bulky and heavy and not good if you are backcountry hiking. It is perfect for car camping or a campsite at a park drive up. Last but not least hiking poles, I use Alpine metal poles. They are light weight and durable and the cork grips are a bit better than the rubber grips. Other things I bring are a Bowie knife, lip balm, gun, flashlight, sun block, bug spray and pain relievers. If you lasted through this post the next will be the hikes and more interesting content. They will be the post you want to read and the pictures you want to see.
The trip was planned and I was ready for anything the Rocky Mountains had to offer. But we went to Alpine. Colorado(never heard of it), I had to rethink where to hike. The city was so small but it was awesome being out in the middle of nowhere. This trip was a mind opening experience. I had three hikes and two of them were absolutely great. The first hike was from one small town to another small town as I was getting use to the altitude. I learned from my previous experience of altitude sickness.
The second hike was in the Rio Grande National Forest. The different trees, mountain views, creek crossings and small waterfalls were nothing less than spectacular. My phone camera was awful but still it could not ruin what I saw in this hike. The trip out there was also something of a surprise. As we were driving into the middle of nowhere with no cell service on the brink of the backcountry, we are talking about a couple that was killed by a bear and no one found them for days. Really this was the only conversation in this situation with my back luck on hikes. This hike was truly magnificent experience though.
The third and final hike was the life changer. The hike on the continental divide trail in Pagosa Springs was the hike. 12500 feet above sea level was amazing. Seeing clouds at eye level and some below the mountain top, Seeing eagles soaring around you and below you. Looking down the mountain and seeing a majestic lake was just too beautiful to put in words. The hike up the mountain was very challenging but worth every step. Hiking over narrow ledges, rocky terrain and through forest like areas was just part of the experience. After this hike I wanted to hike everything everywhere. I still to this day look at clouds in a different way because of actually being that high up. I can truly say this was a life experience.
Hiking has officially become something I wanted to do all the time. I had one big problem, I was too out of shape to do any real hiking for a good length of time. In 2015 I started hiking my three local spots weekly but I still needed to do more to get my hiking to where I wanted to be. In 2016 I started running and exercising regularly. I ran 60 5ks in one year. I did most of my running on trails and became fascinated by trail running which lead back to hiking. I started the 52 Hike Challenge in November of 2016 and only got in around 11 hikes before I decided to cut it off and restart the 52 Hike Challenge on New Year’s Day. I now had places I wanted to hike and not many places I did not know about that had great hiking trails. I was watching places on TV, I was on the computer looking at day trip hiking destinations and now I was ready to attack the 52 Hike Challenge with knowledge and 50 pounds less that I was a year ago. As you will see, I go out crushing Texas state parks and my adventures begin.
After fun in Oklahoma, we had a trip to Arkansas. Hiking is beginning to become an adventure but I still did not know how to find trails and what places to search. I was better prepared to find places to hike and I found two close state parks to hike. My first brush with death was at Woolly Hollow State Park(never heard of it before). The trails were nice and clearly marked at the trailheads. I chose Huckleberry Trail which had great views of the lake and plenty of hills for a good workout. The death part of the hike came when I crossed paths with the biggest snake I have ever seen. I am guessing it was a water moccasin. As I slightly screamed(very manly though). I went in full sprint down the trail as the snake went into sprint mode across the trail. With that being said, it could have been death by snake or heart attack. The snake came out of nowhere and scared the heck out of me.
Even though most of my hiking experiences did not end up the way I wanted, I have thoroughly enjoyed hiking everywhere I went. The second hike I was really looking forward to doing. I did a bunch of research and of all the Colorado peak failures I was ready to peak my first mountain. I was feeling good and strong, my mind was telling me you can hike all day. I quickly found out that I did not do enough research and my mind lied to me. I go to Pinnacle Mountain State Park and I am ready to hike to the peak. If I did more research I would have noticed there more than one entrance to the park and some trails are no where near the namesake of the park. As I said before my mind lied. I went to the trailhead that I thought would be a quick hike and then head off to Pinnacle Mountain. I hiked the East Quarry Trail to Big Maumelle Overlook to the Rocky Valley trail. I turned a two mile round trip hike into a four plus mile hike that I almost did not survive. The temperature started a bit warm around 92 degrees which I was used to hiking in that heat. The problem arose when a freakish temperature increase hit the area and the temperature rose about 20 degrees in about 30 minutes and the next thing I knew it was 100 plus and I was over a mile away from the trailhead. I was running low on water and the water I did have was burning hot. The water was hard to drink. My clothes were drench but the good thing is that I was still sweating. It took me 45 minutes to do the last mile and half. I had no energy and my legs felt like jello and my clothes were weighing me down. I get to the car where I had two frozen waters that were now hotter than the water I was carrying. I was so exhausted that I forgot about Pinnacle Mountain. I was just happy I survived.
So I survived Arkansas and now it was back to Colorado for part 3. Can I do a hike and actually complete what I want from the hike? Find out in part 3.
In 2013, I now have been hiking Cedar Ridge Preserve regularly and Cedar Hill SP sparingly. I like this hiking thing but I just do not know where to start or where to go. I get on a map website and look around my area and find Windmill Hill Preserve. Hiking spot #3, that is close by so I check it out and it has some good elevation changes and some good views. It also has trail signs on the ground on a four inch by four inch stone. The trails are open in some parts and down right creepy in others but overall a good place in the daytime.
OK lets get to the Oklahoma part of this blog. Why might you ask I leave the comforts of a ten minute drive to go to Oklahoma to hike? One of the kids of course, my son was going on a recruiting trip to Oklahoma so I decided to hike some trails near the college. I had the opportunity to go to several trails and some fantastic views of Oklahoma’s natural beauty but of course I could only find two places and one did not even have a paved road. First I believe I went to the Echota Public Use Area(never heard of it), the one with a dirt road leading to the “public use area.” I glad I was in an SUV or this drive would have been impossible. While driving I swore I heard banjos in the background and when I got to the trailhead I found the guy that could have been playing the banjo. This guy was as friendly as you can get but was looking like the definition of backwoods. The trail was short and not marked well at all.
The second place was Greenleaf State Park(never heard of it). The drive to the park was very nice. Winding roads views of the mountains and small towns here and there. Their was also an Army Base out there in the middle of nowhere. This is the first park I have been to where you sign in and out at the trailhead so they know you made it out. The trail was very narrow but had plenty of streams crossing with small bridges to keep my attention, It was a nice place to hike and if you wanted to fish this was definitely the place.
Part 2 State2 will take me Arkansas and a near death experience twice.
We again in 2011 to back to Estes Park but this time I had plans to hike four local peaks. I had to get into better shape. So for a few months before we left on vacation I starting hiking two local hiking spots. First was a return to Ceder Ridge Preserve, the best hilly spot to hike in the DFW area. The hills are steep and pretty long.
The second place was Cedar Hill State Park. I love this park and when all trails are open the trail system is amazing. The park surrounds Joe Pool Lake and it has a pond hidden off on a side trail. At one time you could actually see both AT&T Stadium in Arlington and Texas Stadium in Irving, it would have been a nice picture.
So off we go to our second trip to Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park. The first day we did some mile high hiking in the Rocky Mountain NP and found some great spots but not the 9000-12000 elevation peaks I was planning on doing. The first peak which I cannot remember the name was 9300 feet and we got to the base and could not find the trailhead. The second was Twin Sisters East Peak at 11500 but that did not work out well either. Dade and I found the trailhead but hiked in the wrong direction. We got back on the correct trail and at 11000 and above treeline we both got altitude sickness and we went back down. The failure was amazing with views that literally made me breathless.
I also decided to schedule us for some non city adventure so this time was ATVing through the mountains. My worst idea ever because it turned into ATVing on the mountain. It was about as scary as anything I have ever done. It was not what I expected. After an ATV accident, my quest for the last two peaks was over. BTW, I was not the one in the accident.
I was still not as hooked on hiking as I am now but the spark was now a little flame. I was mad at the two hike attempt failures but intrigued at what I saw on the other hikes but I was still out of shape to do any major hikes to the best places in the park.
Stay tuned for my return to Colorado in 2013. You might even find out if this was the trip that made me an avid hiker. Plus I found another close by hiking spot to go along with the Cedar Ridge Preserve and Cedar Hill SP.
I started my hiking adventures in 2009 but did not get serious until 2014. The 6 years in between I have been on and off hiking trips. I 2016 I took my serious thoughts and put them into action. I digress, let us go back to pre 2009.
As a family we took vacations around the kids sporting activities which meant going to San Antonio, Austin or Houston, then we decided to take real vacations. We did South Padre Island prior to kids sports and then Galveston during kids sports. It was hot so we went to the beach places. In 2009 we decided to do something a little different, go to a cooler place. We choose to go to Estes Park, Colorado ( I never heard of it-recurring theme). I did some research and loved the fact that we would be by the Rocky Mountains.
The trip is where my spark for hiking started but it was not quite a fire. I got a taste of hiking to waterfalls and the views of the mountains were something I have never seen in my life.
I also wanted to do something we have never done before that seemed adventurous and that something city folk did not do too much of. I booked us a whitewater rafting trip.
I will move on to 2011 in the next post. Lastly this is also the first time I had seen “real” wildlife on a vacation.
I starting this blog to let those people who might get lost in all these web pages and stumble upon my humble blog. It will be filled with hiking stories of the places I have visited and dotted with a dry sense of humor. Follow me as I trek my way across Texas as well as previous adventures in Colorado, Oklahoma and Arkansas. I will also have pictures and possibly a video if possible.
I currently live in the DFW area. I have taught and coached in the Dallas ISD and now work in the Arlington ISD as an educational Diagnostician. I am often trail running, road running or hiking all around Texas and the surrounding states. Writing is not my specialty so do not expect Pulitzer Prize worthy information just some good fun blogging.