Another Top Ten List:Most Difficult Races of 2018

I have been asked the same question over and over again lately. What has been your favorite race so far in 2018? I was thinking that this list is going to be the same as my most difficult races of the year. The list is the same except for one race. The most difficult race did not make my favorite race list. I decided to do the most difficult list and wait on my favorite list. So far this year I have done every race distance I have wanted to do except one. My 50K is this weekend and then I have a couple more races planned to end the year with 25 races. I have done a 5K, 5 miler/8K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K and a 1/2 Marathon all on trails. I have done races in freezing weather and snow. I have done races in unbearable heat and humidity and pouring rain. The views from some of these courses have been absolutely breathtaking. All the races and training has been leading up to this weekend’s 50K. The following 10 races as difficult as they were are going to make this weekend easier but not easy.

10. The Wild Canyon Ultra 10K in Caprock Canyon State Park-The rain made the course wet and slick. The course was hilly and rugged but manageable to run. The views were by far the most impressive.20181114_123511.jpg

9. Rugged and Raw 10K at the Cedar Ridge Preserve-The preserve is my training ground and I am there about 3 times a week. A race here is just different. The trails are difficult on a normal day but this was a particularly warm and humid day. 20181114_124531.jpg

8. Rough Creek 10K at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, TX-This race is well known for the Rusty Crown. It is a torcherous uphill that is a definite leg killer. If that is not bad enough a steep downhill that tends to sends running crashing to the ground. 20181114_125300.jpg

7. Down N Dirty 8K at Cameron Park-I ran this race last year not knowing how hilly the course was going to be. I was not surprised this year and it still kicked my butt. The last climb after the 5 mile mark is the one that gets me.20181114_130102.jpg

6. Cross Timbers 5 Miler off of Lake Texoma-The rain made this course a muddy mess. This is one of the more technical courses but with the pouring rain it was down right impossible to run. The views were nice when the sun finally came out but it was a beatdown of a race.20181114_131043.jpg

5. DanMan 1/2 Marathon in Oklahoma-I wanted to get this distance done this year and nothing was going to stop me. I ran in freezing temperatures, rain, snow and mud. I finished and was ten minutes ahead of my predicted time. The course was not too tough but the elements made it a doozy. I only got half of the elevation profile.20181114_131951.jpg

4. Ragnar Trail Relay in Comfort, TX-The three courses were difficult but once again rain was what made this a difficult race. The 7.5 and 3 mile courses were not too bad but the 5 mile course was treacherous. It was by far the most technical and I had to run it night with bad lighting. 20181114_132702.jpg

3. Chupacabra 15K at Cameron Park-This is another race at Cameron Park but the start/finish is at the bottom. The course is relentless. It is always going up or down or a switchback. There is not a straight or level part on the entire course. It slowly wears a runner down.20181114_133339.jpg

2. Mount Magazine in Arkansas-They lure you in with a free race then you realize it is a trap. The heat and humidity were way too high for that early in the morning. The course was probably the most beautiful and dangerous. The cliffs are unforgiving and the climbs last for miles.20181114_134207.jpg

  1. Pineywoods Ultra 25K at Tyler State Park-I did not think I was going to finish this race. Another rain soaked race with high humidity and muddy trails. The distance was the longest race to date but I fell apart well before the finish. My legs gave out and I finished, barely. The race was not that technical or difficult but it was just one of those races where nothing went right.20181114_135316.jpg

The biggest factor in making these races difficult besides the elevation changes was the the muddy courses and high humid temperatures. The good thing is that these races make me prepared for anything. I like the weather prediction for the 50K. It is supposed to be sunny and dry with a temperature range between 46 and 62.  Hopefully the 50K will not make this list but the list of one my favorite races of the year.

See ya on the trails.

Reflective Pictures

I should be ready to travel in two weeks. In the meantime here are some photos of all of my years of hiking.

IMG_0059.jpgHawaii

IMG_1364.JPGRocky Mountain National Park

IMG00363-20110624-2024.jpgColorado

2011-06-21_07-44-11_464.jpgRoosevelt National Forest

20170405_143341.jpgGorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park

20171219_144321.jpgPalo Duro Canyon

20171209_085645.jpgElk Mountain, Wichita  Mountains Wildlife Refuge

20171111_141337.jpgPinnacle Mountain, Arkansas

DSC00384.JPGLittle Niagara Falls, Chickasaw National Recreation Area

20180513_075431.jpgPetit Jean State Park, Arkansas

20161124_083530.jpgCedar Ridge Preserve, Dallas, Texas

Just a few pictures I have taken on my journeys. I am hoping to get thousands of more pictures of new and old places. I want to visit more states and parks. Plus discover more local hiking spots. The next blog should be one of those new places so hang on for another ride.

 

Best Hikes of 2018 So Far

My last blog and this blog have both been rehash blogs for a good reason. I had plans to visit several west Texas state parks this summer but I have sustained an injury that is aggravated when sitting for a long time. My travel has been limited to just about nowhere. Hopefully, I will be back at 100% by August. I have gotten in a bunch of hikes this year so I will list the best.

10. Quanah Hill-This is a cool little park located in Weatherford, TX. Nice trails with lots of elevation change and clean.DSC00261.JPG

9. Eagle Mountain Park-Located on the northwest side of Fort Worth. This park is just a nice nature park to hike.DSC00033.JPG

8. Eisenhower State Park-A surprisingly good trail system at a park located in Denison, TX. The beaches and cliffs were great.DSC00283.JPG

7. Mount Nebo SP-Located in Dardanelle, AR, this was a surprisingly neat park. The summit trail around the top is a must.20180511_181132.jpg

6. Chickasaw National Recreational Area-Located in Sulphur, OK, this park is all about waterfalls. I love me some waterfalls.DSC00384.JPG

5. Bastrop SP-Located in Bastrop, TX, this was a park I have wanted to go to for a longtime. Although it was foggy he park did not disappoint.DSC00668.JPG

4. Petit Jean SP-Located in Morrilton, AR, this was another must see park for me that lived up to all the hype.20180513_075502.jpg

3. Enchanted Rock SP-I returned to this park for the third time. I got to finish the park and it was as good as the first two trips.DSC00568.JPG

2. Caprock Canyon SP-My second visit to this park located in Quitaque, TX. Even fog could not ruin the colors of this beautiful canyon.20180421_090844.jpg

1. Mount Magazine SP-This state park has the highest point in Arkansas as its peak. Located in Paris, AR, it has some great cliff views.20180512_092318.jpg

This was a hard list to create and I think I left off a good hikes at Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin and Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. I have at least five never been before hikes planned in the fall so this list might change by the end of the year.

Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park has been a park I have wanted to visit for at least two years. The other Arkansas state parks I have visited have been convenience parks. I say that in hindsight because those other parks would have been destination parks if I knew more about them. Petit Jean is located north west of Little Rock but closer to Little Rock than both Mount Magazine and Nebo but farther than Pinnacle Mountain. The drive to Petit Jean was another scenic drive with beautiful views. I would be crazy not to mention how green everything is at this time of year. Petit Jean did not disappoint when it came to all the hype I gave it before I arrived. The waterfall was flowing and the view behind Mather Lodge was spectacular. The hike on Cedar Falls Trail was strenuous to say the least. The hike was worth it, though. The hike was different than the other mountain parks. The hike had a more woodland forest feel. The park was in bear country and it really looked like a place where plenty of bears would be found. Ironically, I also hike a trail called Bear Cave. I was continually going all around the trail trying to get good pictures and ended up getting an extra half mile of hiking. I was also lucky enough to get there very early and I was one of two people on the trail.

Cedar Falls Trail took me down into a valley and at the end of the trail was Cedar Falls. Cedar Falls is a 95 foot straight down waterfall. This is the highest waterfall I have seen on my travels. It had not rained in a long time but the waterfall was still flowing pretty good. I then decided after making a very steep uphill climb out of the valley to do one more short trail. Bear Cave Trail was close and short so I decided to give it a hike. It had some very nice rock formations and views at the end of the trail. It was a great morning of hiking.20180513_073922.jpg20180513_081331.jpg20180513_075758.jpg20180513_084431.jpg20180513_090230.jpgDSC00990.JPG

I will definitely be returning to Arkansas to see the other parts of the parks I missed and to go to some new parks I need to see. This was hike 30 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next hikes are back in Texas. Austin here I come.

Mount Magazine State Park

This is another run/hike situation. It was suppose to be a twelve mile trail run that turned into a run/hike due to all the pictures. I actually ran a decent time considering the conditions. The temperature was in the mid 80s which is not too bad but the humidity was at 70%. It was the humidity that was the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Did I mention that the run was on a mountain. The course had a two two and half mile uphill climbs. When you put the heat, humidity and hills together, you get a difficult trail race.

The park is located north west of Little Rock, AR in Paris, AR. The park is very spacious and also has the highest point in Arkansas. Of course I had to get to that point. I did but the sign was gone and there were several people looking at the ground. I had a race to run so after I realized the sign was not there I continued my run. The course had so many views. The course lead runners on narrow trails with a ledge on one side and the mountain wall on the other side. Eagles were soaring below the ledges and you would look down on treetops. Even though it was a humid and hazy morning, I could still see for miles from the ledges. I had an awesome time in the Arkansas mountains.20180512_073148.jpg20180512_091007.jpg20180512_091850.jpg20180512_092039.jpg20180512_092318.jpg20180512_095923.jpg

This was a challenging 12 miles but I would do it again. I more than likely will do it again next year. Plus there is another race in another state park in the area I want to run. This was hike 29 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next blog is the park I have been waiting two years to get to in Arkansas.

Mount Nebo State Park

This is my third trip back to Arkansas and it was awesome. My first stop was at Mount Nebo State Park. The park is located in Dardanelle, AR which is northwest of Little Rock. The first thing about this park that caught my attention was how steep the road is to get into the park. Hwy 155 is a notable road that is known in the area but not to me. It has several switchbacks but the steepness is what really stood out. I also did not have this park as a must visit park. I was in the area so I decided to check it out. I made the right decision.

I got a map and hiked the Rim Trail. The trail had plenty of great views. I also did a little venture on the Gum Springs Trail. The two of many highlights on the trail were Sunset Point and Lover’s Leap. The views from these overlooks were absolutely spectacular. The other overlooks were great but these two stuck out most for me. The hike was not difficult but scary at times. I was on a thin trail with a cliff on one side and a mountain wall on the other. Plus the thermals on the east side of the mountain were blowing. It was tough to keep balance and fight the wind. I got to see eagles use the thermals to dive and rise through the air. Watching the birds use the thermals was another highlight. 20180511_194340.jpg20180511_185024.jpg20180511_181132.jpgDSC00911.JPGDSC00951.JPGDSC00966.JPG

This was the beginning of an amazing three day trip in Arkansas. I was not too surprised of the beauty of the state parks. I liked seeing a different part of the state. This was also hike 28 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.  The start of these 52 hikes have been amazing so far.

Next up is another Arkansas mountain.

Lake Catherine State Park Part 2

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.20171112_122348.jpg20171112_122839.jpg20171112_123001.jpg20171112_123835.jpg20171112_131020.jpg

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.