Meridian State Park

The next hike was at Meridian State Park. I am getting to these parks as part of the 52 Hike Challenge so there are a bunch of parks I would not consider visiting or even heard of before I started the challenge.  I also choose some guided hikes because I did not know much about the parks or the park system. These little known parks are very nice but do not get publicized because they do have the huge destination within the park. This park, by the way, is located in Meridian, TX which is about an hour and forty minutes southwest of the DFW metroplex. I have never heard of this park but it was in close driving distance, had a guided tour and it had a place called Bee Ledge. It is a naturally occurring rock formation lookout shaped like a  sideways halfpipe. I have seen others since this hike but this was my first time seeing something like this rock. I also realized this was a Civilian Conservation Corps park, which is another new thing I learned on this hike. It was a guided hike so I was given a lot of information on the hike. I am not going to go into the history of the CCC but they built stone structures at these CCC parks and the structures lasted for a very long time and have a distinct look.20170128_093332.jpg

This is one of the CCC buildings we saw and the next is a CCC bridge.20170128_100857(0).jpg

The use of the rocks is a recurring feature of CCC parks. I came for the Bee Ledge but seeing the CCC structures were a nice surprise. Also Lake Meridian was a nice picturesque lake.20170128_111637.jpg

The hike was not flat either it had some very steep inclines and rugged terrain that made the hike more challenging.20170128_110038.jpg20170128_110325.jpg

Then you throw in a river crossing or two and you have a complete hike. We also saw wildlife and a tree cut down by a beaver.20170128_105220.jpg20170128_105439.jpg

Now what I came for was not disappointing. The Bee Ledge was an awesome sight and thrown into the mix of sights to see was a tree growing horizontally out of these limestone rock ledges.20170128_102903.jpg20170128_103329.jpg20170128_103344.jpg20170128_104051.jpg

We stayed on the Bosque Hiking Trail for the entire trek but there was another unmarked trail near the dam. The ranger said that they are going to have that trail completed at sometime and it leads to dinosaur tracks and other wildlife viewings.20170128_114851.jpg20170128_114856.jpg

I really enjoyed this hike and will definitely be back when the last trail section is open for hiking. It was a good experience being on a guided hike again. I am finding that the Texas state parks have many guided hikes at the beginning of the year and into spring which is nice but as I hike more the self guided hikes are a bit more fun.

 

Cedar Ridge Preserve Snow Hike

In January of 2017. We got a treat of snow. We do not get much snow in the DFW metroplex so I decided to take advantage of the snow. I got my hiking stuff together and went to the Cedar Ridge Preserve for a good ol’ snow hike. I was expecting a lot of people to be there but much to my surprise there was only one other car and as I was hiking I saw no one.

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I did see that some people were here with the writing in the snow.20170106_165302.jpg

I had gloves on with a sweatshirt and a hat. I was out there hiking and I got warm and even started to sweat from being over bundled up. The trails really stuck out among the the trees as whites squiggly lines.hike20

The weird thing was that the trails were not slick and very hikeable. When it rains a ton at times you cannot hike on the steep part of the trails but the trails held up well. hike22

The trails were in good enough shape to get to the lowest part of the preserve by the pond and small waterfall.20170106_163513Hike25.jpg

I had a great time on these trails and hopefully I will get a chance to have another snow hike on these trails with a whole bunch more snow.20170106_16131220170106_165407

If you go to the Youtube page you can see the snow hike as well as other state park hikes. Big Guy Hiking and Trail Running

 

 

Dinosaur Valley State Park

I heard about this park for awhile before I hiked it. Since the time I have started hiking “seriously”, I have hiked this park twice and ran two 5Ks in this park. The park is beautiful and the trails really help the hiker see all the park has to offer. Some people complain that there is a water crossing to get to the best parts of the park and when it rains it might be unpassable. I think they are just complainers. The most famous part of the park in the the very clear and visible dinosaur tracks in the river. I came for the 45 foot waterfall but later to find out it is rarely flowing. Just once in the past 5 years and that was the flood year of 2015. If you hike to the top of the park you can see the plains, the river and the forest all in the park. The trail map is useful to find the overlook and other park scenery. As I have found out some trail maps are better than others but this is a good one. It is a moderate to challenging hike but worth the effort. There also a pond at the top of the park in which not many people know about but I was lucky to be on a ranger lead hike. This was one of my first hikes so my pictures were still a work in progress and they get better as I start to hike other parks. 20161231_103440.jpgDinosaur track.20161231_110753Overlook from one of the highest points of the park.20161231_113923The hidden pond at the top of the park20161231_122841The river crossing to get to the good trails.20161231_121250On the ledge of the trail leading to the high point.DVSP SelfieMy hiking buddy and myself selfie.

This was a fun hike and looking forward to sharing more Texas State Parks. Next up the rare Texas snow hike.

Hiking the Basic Approach

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.

Part 3 State 3 Colorado Dreaming

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. 0729131022a.jpg0729131049a.jpg

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.0730131110.jpg0730131054a.jpg

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. 0802130936a.jpg0802131039.jpg0802131250.jpg

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.

Part 2 State 2 An Arkansas Story

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.0719131056.jpg0719131139.jpg

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.IMG_4479.JPG0720131152.jpgIMG_4482.JPG

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.

Hiking becomes a Hobby: Part 1 State 1 Oklahoma

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.

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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. 0624131436.jpg0624131426.jpg

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.0625131051.jpg

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Part 2 State2 will take me Arkansas and a near death experience twice.