In 2018, I completed a race at every possible distance from 5K to 50K. I also hiked some of the most scenic places I have ever seen. So what am going to do to top 2018? I dug deep into my imagination and found some crazy places. I am heading back down to the Texas Hill country to hike a park I have never been to yet. I am headed back to Arkansas to hike another mountain but this time from the more difficult side. I have a race in east Texas that took my legs last year. I signed up up for to prove to myself I can beat this course. I will once again will run the Huaco Cuatro Series in Waco, TX but this time I am going to try to get my times much lower. I am doing this all in the first two months of 2019. I want to get back to Oklahoma in March and also a second possible 50K in Kansas. I will get my mini travel camper in April so I can travel in style. My big hikes this year will be to hike to the highest points in Arkansas (I have already done it once), Oklahoma and Texas. My big run this year will be to buckle up with a 100K also in Kansas. I am looking forward to getting out and running and hiking all around America.
This year I hiked 50 new trails in 45 new places. I was doing the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series which is to hike 52 new places in 12 months. I did not get to 52 new trails but the 50 new trails were worth the travel. I found some local city parks and many state parks. I ventured into two other states besides Texas. I liked the hikes in Arkansas and Oklahoma and already have plans to return to both states. I also had some first in my trail running. I did my first 1/2 Marathon, 20K, 25K and 50K all on trails. 2018 was an awesome year to be outside.
Mount Magazine 20K
Wild Hare 50K
Mount Nebo, Arkansas
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma
2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.
My next hike in Devil’s Den State Park was on the trail of the same name. This trail was shorter but had plenty of scenic spots and parts of the parks history. The rock formations were amazing and the bat caves although they were closed due to disease, were also a nice sight. There was a frozen waterfall and a natural cove to walk under. The trail did not provide an overlook of the park but it was up close to all of the natural features that the trail passed.
This was hike 44 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I really enjoyed this semi frozen hike and learning about the history of the park.
The next blog is my final hike through this park. It was a nice trip and I want to return to this area of Arkansas again.
Devil’s Den State Park is located 30 minutes south of Fayetteville. AR. The park is located in the Ozark Mountains but right outside of the Ozark National Forest. I missed the leaves color change by two weeks and most of the leaves have already fallen off the trees. The area was still full of fall colors and leaves falling and branches too. The time of the trip coincided with a 30 degree average drop in temperature. The hike on the Yellow Rock Trail was in freezing temperatures. The temperature was about 29 degrees at the start and the temperature only rose about five degrees. The trails were marked great like all Arkansas SP trails. I took the three mile loop and turned it into a five mile lollipop. The yellow rock overlook was amazing. The views were spectacular but I could not get great pictures. I was the only one on the trails at the time but the sun was affecting my camera. The fog was cool to see but also affects my pictures. The fog was mostly created by the difference in the air temperature and water temperature. This is also a CCC park and the hike to the lookout had a nice CCC pavilion at the top. This trail also had some great rock formations lining the trail.
This was hike 43 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was the typical beautiful Arkansas hike that are nothing typical anywhere else.
I realized after writing this I missed hike 42 at Bluff Creek Ranch so I will go in reverse next blog.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
I should be ready to travel in two weeks. In the meantime here are some photos of all of my years of hiking.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Roosevelt National Forest
Gorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park
Palo Duro Canyon
Elk Mountain, Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Pinnacle Mountain, Arkansas
Little Niagara Falls, Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas
Cedar 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.
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.
9. Eagle Mountain Park-Located on the northwest side of Fort Worth. This park is just a nice nature park to hike.
8. Eisenhower State Park-A surprisingly good trail system at a park located in Denison, TX. The beaches and cliffs were great.
7. Mount Nebo SP-Located in Dardanelle, AR, this was a surprisingly neat park. The summit trail around the top is a must.
6. Chickasaw National Recreational Area-Located in Sulphur, OK, this park is all about waterfalls. I love me some waterfalls.
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.
4. Petit Jean SP-Located in Morrilton, AR, this was another must see park for me that lived up to all the hype.
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.
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.
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.
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.