Bluff Creek Ranch

Bluff Creek Ranch is a private ranch located in Warda, TX which is about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. Even though the location would suggest the Texas hill country, the ranch had a real east Texas feel. There were not many hills but plenty of pine trees. The oil derrick would suggest a more north west Texas location but nope it is on the outskirts of the Texas hill country.  This is place where I became an ultra runner by completing my first 50K trail run. I did not expect this place to be this scenic. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the sunrise but I was too busing running. There are several ponds located throughout the ranch. There was not one big destination on the ranch but plenty of different things to see that caught my eye. The rolling hills and creeks mixed in with the pine trees and open fields made this a great hike.20181117_105055.jpg20181117_104021.jpg20181117_112933.jpg20181117_120020.jpg20181117_120927.jpg20181117_113113.jpg

It was a crazy day and I am glad I got to be able to hike a private ranch and also run a 50K. This is hike 42 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I will get back on track the next blog with my continuing adventures in Arkansas.

Wild Hare 50K

I have been training most of the year for this race. I wanted to finish this year as an ultra runner. The 50K distance is the shortest race to reach ultra runner status. I signed up for the race and knew I was going to finish. I was confident after my 1/2 marathon and 20K but lost all that confidence after the 25K. The 25K race made me change my race preparation for the 50K. I still do not do long runs over 12 miles but I started doing 8-10 mile training runs. I also did 4-6 mile runs back to back with a ten minute break in between runs. Lastly, I did more flatter course runs than hills. The 50K course was a relatively flat course.

The night before the run I had my normal pizza dinner. The only thing I regularly do before a run. I did not eat pizza the night before the 25K and I will not do that again. An hour after dinner everything went wrong. I had diarrhea all night and most of the morning. The first thing a had in the morning was pepto bismol. The start of the race my stomach was still churning but I was going to finish no matter what. I felt better after a port o potty break and the second loop went well. I was actually one hour faster at the half point than my disaster of a 25K. I finished in a time of 8:48:42 but my running time was 7:48ish. I spent about an hour of the race at the aid stations. I was going to do a full change but I only changed my shirts. I should have done the full change because I finished the last loop with painful chafing. I finished and I am now an ultra runner.Snapchat-125743004.jpgResized_20181117_144949_1228.jpgFB_IMG_1542586076132.jpgSnapchat-843970798.jpg20181118_195631.jpg

The running club I run with calls all of the ultra runners “badass”. I have been shying away from the name but I ready to embrace it. I would like to do some other long races in the 20-25K range more often but not a 50K or longer.

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.

Emma Long Metro Park

On the outskirts of northwest Austin, Emma Long Metro Park is a nice getaway from the city. I got there early and there was only one other person at the park. I liked the fact it was peaceful and secluded but still near the city. The main trail is 2.8 miles long but there are offshoot trails. I added about two extra miles of fun trails. The interesting thing about the main trail is that is does not run along side of the creek but crosses it several times. The trail is marked well but I still got lost twice. I blame it on the creek crossings. The trail has some elevation gains and a overlook but the creek was my favorite part. The water in most parts was crystal clear. I also like nearing waterfalls no matter how big or small. The park has several different terrains that kept the hike interesting. I was always hiking further on the offshoot trails to see what else was in the park. There was an interesting flat open area with some rock stacking. This is also a very dog friendly park. On my way out, there were more dogs than people on the trail. 20180523_083348.jpg20180523_084457.jpg20180523_094515.jpgDSC01067.JPGDSC01094.JPGDSC01099.JPG

This was a fun hike. It is another part of Austin that is very nice and scenic. This was also hike 32 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next was a flat and fastish 10K.

Barton Creek Greenbelt

This, unbeknownst to me, is a very popular spot in Austin. The trail is a 15 mile out and back depending on where you start. It could also be a 15 mile loop. I did an out and back section between the Mopac Hwy Trailhead and the Hill of Life Trailhead. The hike was a total of 6.6 miles of overlooks, hills, waterfalls, rock climbing and people lots of people. I got there in the middle of the day and middle of the week hoping people would still be at work. Apparently, people do not work in Austin. I had never seen so many cars at a trailhead before. I walked about a third of a mile before even getting to the trail. The trail itself was very nice. Well groomed with little to no trash. The biggest issue was trying to get pictures without random people in the background. There were two main waterfalls in the section I hiked but they were filled with people so I did not get pictures. I chose the section because of the waterfalls and they were very nice but way too many people. The other section leading to Zilker Park had more of the rock climbing cliffs. I did see some people rock climbing on this section. The highlight of the hike was the climb up the Hill of Life. It was a leg busting experience. It was a long steadily climbing hill that was not too steep but long. 20180522_154659.jpg20180522_154704.jpg20180522_161103.jpg20180522_164827.jpg20180522_173629.jpgDSC01054.JPG

I really like this trail. I will try to get back here and do the Zilker Park section and this section again when there are less people. This was hike 31 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next a park with not many people but a lot of dogs.

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.

Buescher State Park

Buescher State Park is located in Smithville, TX which is about forty minutes east of Austin. The park is a smallish park and besides camping, I do not know the park’s main attraction. The park has no distinct look. It could be in east Texas and not stand out. It could be in north Texas and fit in with the other parks. It even could be a central Texas park and not be out of place. I think that is why this park is kind of special. The trails did not hold up too well because of the rain. They still had spots of thick mud and standing water but other parts were bone dry. The park also is still displaying the damage of its own floods and fires. The park is restoring well just like Bastrop SP. Due to the size I got to hike the entire park during my time in the park. The fog had burned off and the sun was shining. The temperature rose very quick but it was still a nice day. The trails were easy with not too much elevation change. There were some good views and plenty of scenery. DSC00735.JPGDSC00739.JPGDSC00743.JPGDSC00752.JPGDSC00748.JPGDSC00742.JPG

I was surprised that I did not see any wildlife at the park. There were birds but that was it. A nice park for a quick day hike. This was hike 25 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up a park I had never heard of went to a park I could not miss out on.