Lockhart State Park

In the land of BBQ there is a state park. I knew very little about this park and the park seemed to be a park for golf. I do not golf. It also supposedly has some good fishing spots. I do not fish but want to learn and start fishing. I do hike and this park has some surprisingly nice hiking trails. I even had a tough time on Rattlesnake Run trail to finish off my hike of the park. Lockhart State Park is located in Lockhart, TX which is about thirty minutes south of Austin. I decided to do a combination of seven trails because none of them are particularly long. I luckily brought enough water due to the heat. The temperature rose very quick in the middle of the day. Another good thing was that the trails were shaded for the most part. I enjoyed my time at this park. I stayed longer than I thought was going to stay so I had to pass up on another park I was going to try to visit. This was a trend of that weekend. I was continually hiking longer in one place and missing out on the next place. This was also the weekend of getting lost and I did get lost at Lockhart State Park and ended up on the golf course. I was pleasantly surprised to find two waterfalls in the park and one was flowing to the point where the crossing point was flooded. DSC00666.JPGDSC00658.JPG DSC00653.JPGDSC00651.JPG20180330_144610.jpg20180330_151304.jpg

This was hike 23 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series and one of the biggest surprises of these hikes. I found many things on this hike that I did not expect. The trails had good elevation change. There are some CCC buildings and waterfalls. It was a good hiking experience.

Next up is a park I have been trying to get to in over a year.

Austin Rattler 10K+

I had heard many good things about Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville. TX. I was looking for a race to run there and found several. I decided on the Austin Rattler 10K. The ranch is located about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. It was amazingly beautiful. The drive out the was very picturesque with the bluebonnets and indian paintbrush flowers all over the place. The two days leading up to the race the mornings were very foggy but this morning the fog burned off early and it was a fantastic day. The race had people from all over the country. I talked to people from Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and of course Texas. They announced runners from Maine and California also. The race date was April 1st and this is mentioned due to my trend on getting lost.

I started out running strong and feeling good. I was staying behind a pack of five runners for a long time. I was trying to hang on the back of that pack but got dropped. The next thing I know I am running by myself for fifteen minutes. I check my phone and I have ran over the 10K distance by a half mile. I continue and start to see several runners flying through the trails. They were the 33K runners. I realized I was lost. I got directions and missed my turn again. I am now 8.5 miles into a 10K. I find some volunteers to get placed at spot on the course where I should not get lost. Yes I do mean placed. I had to get an ATV ride. I was going to finish and was not going to get a DNF in a 10K. I get dropped off where I made my second wrong turn and finally pass where I made my first wrong turn. At the finish, I realized I was less than a mile from the finish line when I made my first wrong turn. I ended up running 10.4 miles. It turned out to be my long run before my first 1/2 Marathon next week.20180401_075242.jpg20180401_075419.jpg20180401_075909.jpg20180401_075905.jpgbazu-15942367.jpgThe crazy look you get when you realize you ran an extra 4.2 miles and still did not come in last place.

I had a great time even though I was lost most of the time. I finished in a very unspectacular 2:30:35. Although the course was muddy in some sections, the time was not good. I guess I played an April Fool’s Day joke on myself.

My next blog will be about the 1/2 Marathon then back to the trails.

The Art of Getting Lost

I have a gift of getting lost in places where there is no reason of getting lost. I prepare and plan and read maps prior to any adventure. This weekend was the ultimate of being lost multiple times even though I played it about as safe as I could.

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My first safe play was passing on a hike in which I would not finish until sunset. It is not a problem but I would have to drive in the dark with no use of my phone to give me directions. I avoided the danger of getting lost on the roads.

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Now for getting lost. I go to Enchanted Rock SNA early to beat the Easter weekend rush. The problem is that I could not get a trail map. Being overconfident of my navigation abilities and memory, I try to hike my route using my mind. Bad idea, I got lost in ten minutes and ended up where it started. I am a smart guy so I decided to hike my route reverse because I would less likely get lost. My plan worked until the end of the hike. The trail disappeared and I was looking straight down a cliff with a bunch of boulders. I was lucky two nice guys lead me through the boulder field to the parking lot. I got lost and never left the trail. Plus I added an extra mile plus to my hike.

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The next day I took full opportunity to get lost. I should have known this one was coming. It was early morning in a thick fog. I decided in all my infinite wisdom to hike Bastrop State Park. The full write up will be later on Bastrop. I was going to the scenic overlook. The whole park was scenic. The fog was everywhere and I missed my turn and hiked the wrong trail. The trail lead to an overlook but not the one I was looking for on the map. I saw another trail that looked awesome and luckily that was the correct trail and I was lost no more. It added over two miles to a fantastic hike.

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Last day of my lesson of getting lost was epic. I was running a 10K trail race and flying through the course. I was wondering why I was running for about 12 minutes and did not see anyone. I then saw a few runners in the 33K and 66K race. Well crap, I was lost again and this time I paid to do it. I once again never left the trail but I made a huge wrong turn. Three miles later I “found” some volunteers. I ended up doing 10.4 miles for my 10K. Needless to say I came in last.

The funny thing is I had a blast being lost and meeting good people and seeing more than I bargained to see. If you want to get lost and have some fun, just follow me.

2018 hiking plans, maybe.

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I am at it again. I already have done six hikes. This year is the Explorer Series so I will be doing 52 different hikes. No repeating hikes during this challenge. I am also going to try not to repeat hikes from last year. Which means going to many different Texas state parks this year. I went to 26 different parks in the last challenge and already two more in this challenge. I looked at a Texas map and began to find some close day trip parks and then some distant vacation type parks. I also will go to a few parks from last challenge but hike different trails. I came up with three list of parks. I am hoping I can do what I have planned out but that rarely happens. So hear it goes.

New Parks for day trip: All of these parks are with a two and half hour drive except the first one.

Abilene SP, Eisenhower SP, Fort Richardson SP, Lake Arrowhead SP, Lake Tawakoni SP, Purtis Creek SP and Ray Roberts Lake SP.

New Vacation type trips: These parks are over three hour drive away and might need to make a weekend out of the trip.

Atlanta SP, Bastrop SP, Blanco SP, Bueschler SP, Copper Breaks SP, Government Canyon SNA, Guadalupe River SP, Lockhart SP, Longhorn Cavern SP, and Palmetto SP.

Repeat parks: These parks will fall under the previous two but I will do new trails.

Caprock Canyon SP, Cleburne SP, Colorado Bend SP, Dinosaur Valley SP, Enchanted Rock SNA, Garner SP, Hill County SNA, Inks Lake SP, Lost Maples SP, Palo Duro SP, and Pedernales Falls SP.

I also have plans to go to Texas’ suburb states of Oklahoma and Arkansas again. Plus  there are local hiking trails I would like to visit and I got a good list from 52 Hike Mike.

See you on the trails.

2017 My Top 10 Places Hiked

My last blog of the year is a review of the best places I have hiked this year. I was going to do a list of top ten hikes but I could not narrow it down to a good twenty. Plus the order would change as I was thinking about which hike should be placed on the list. I decided on places because it was easier but not easy. The top ten was not too difficult but the order was very hard. I did about 60 hikes this calendar year and they were spread out the entire twelve months. I had to compare the recent fresh in my mind place with a place that was hiked ten to eleven months ago. The ten places I have chosen, I have or will hike multiple times. Two places I have hiked but not blogged about yet. The ten places cover three states, a national park and a wildlife refuge.

10. Cedar Ridge Preserve-Minutes away from home and is one of the most scenic areas in Dallas County. hike2220171124_121348.jpg

9. Hot Springs National Park-This quaint cozy park has some great views. 20171112_103833.jpg20171112_103709.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park-The Texas hill country is all over this list.20170406_131314.jpg20170122_130731.jpg

7. Pinnacle Mountain State Park-The second Arkansas park and a summit hike.20171111_141701.jpg20171111_082716.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA-The park is more than The Rock. Hidden gems everywhere.20170406_092524.jpg20170122_102656.jpg

5. Lost Maples SNA-A nature made amphitheater with great trees, waterfalls and views.20170711_182026.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge-This place has everything. Summits and waterfalls.20171208_162255.jpg20171001_111717.jpg

3. Caprock Canyon State Park-Home of the official bison herd of Texas. Plus canyon views.20171220_124508.jpg20171220_122602.jpg

2. Colorado Bend State Park-Gorman Falls is amazing but that is just the start.20170405_143431.jpg20170405_134311.jpg

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park-The second largest canyon in the USA.20171220_082257.jpg20171219_144321.jpg

These top ten places that I have hiked in 2017 maed this a memorable and fantastic year. Next year I hope to have a totally different list of places.

2017 Top Ten Hikes

This list will consist of only hikes I have done this year. I will also bore followers with an all time list at the end of the year because I have one more trip planned this year. Next year I will be doing less hiking and more trail running trying to move up to the 20K and 25K distances at some time next year. This year was my most active year hiking ever. I have hiked over twenty state parks and a handful of other parks. I really want to finish the 52 Hike Challenge within the year and I am on pace to finish early. I have completed 48 hikes this year and I have two months to get four more hikes done. The majority of my hikes have been in Texas but I did get into Oklahoma for a weekend of hiking. I had adventures in the high hills of central Texas. I was blessed to see all different parts of Texas from the piney woods to the hill country and also the west Texas desert and the great plains. I had a difficult time narrowing it down to ten hikes and it might change depending on the day but here it goes:

10. Tyler State Park, Whispering Pines Trail-This really short trail was visually electric.20170222_102938_001.jpg

9. Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Penitentiary Hollow-Not really a trail but it a rock climbers paradise with bouldering and lake views mixed in.20170304_135240.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park, Pedernales Falls Trail System-it is as long as you want it be but you must go down to the falls for a spectacular view of the water.20170122_133632.jpg

7. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Kite Trail-bouldering over mini waterfalls, what more can I say.20170930_173833.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA, Summit Trail-I felt very accomplished summiting The Rock.20170406_095152.jpg

5. Inks Lake State Park, Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail/Valley Spring Creek Trail-This combination of trails is the hidden gem of Texas.20170405_183904.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Little Baldy Mountain Trail-Another summit but this one combined hiking and rock climbing.20170930_183728.jpg

3. Lost Maples SNA, East-West Trail/East Trail-one of the toughest uphill hikes I had before #2 on this list but worth every step.20170711_180348.jpg

2. Hill Country SNA, Merrick Mile Trail/West Peak Overlook Trail-this was a great hike with better views. I later found out of a similar hike with even better views, need to see to believe. 20170712_092155.jpg

  1. Colorado Bend State Park, Gorman Falls Trail-I was just so amazed at these falls.20170405_143220.jpg So there is the 2017 top ten as of today. I could have easily expanded to a top twenty. I have enjoyed my hikes this year so far and am looking forward to my next set of hikes and hopefully they can crack this list.

The blog will be about trail running. The trail runs and hikes have gone hand in hand on many occasions. I like going to trail races just to hike the park at times.

McKinney Falls State Park

Tucked away in the southeast corner of Austin, TX, there is a state park that has a bit of hill country mixed with a bit of east Texas. Mckinney Falls has both the unique hill country rock formations and the long relatively flat winding trails of east Texas. As the name suggest is also has some great waterfalls. McKinney Falls State Park has a little something for everybody. If you want to see waterfalls but do not want to hike far, this is the park. If you want to be adventurous and jump off rocks into water, this is the park. If you want to hike relatively flat trails for miles and miles, this is the park. I say relatively flat because you will not be hiking up the side of hills at a very steep incline. You will have some elevation change that will gradually wear on your legs depending how far you hike. The best and worst thing about getting to the falls is that they are very close to the trailhead. The lower falls are so close you can hear them from the parking lot and it is about fifty yards from the trailhead if that far. Plus the lower falls are north of the upper falls. Geographically backwards.

My son and I came here on our way back from the Natural Bridge Caverns in which we ran a 5K that started in the belly of the caverns. I never heard of the park until I saw it on TV about hidden swim spots. The hike was to the Lower Falls and then on to the Homestead Trail.20170205_122610.jpg20170205_132139.jpg20170205_122820.jpg

 

We then did the Picnic Trail and the Rock Shelter Trail. The Rock Shelter Trail had some steep inclines and we ventured a little off trail get to some other sights and had a good adventure on these two short trails.20170205_134121.jpg20170205_134505.jpg20170205_134510.jpg20170205_134555.jpg

We finished this trip with another short hike on the Onion Creek Trail to the Upper Falls. This was quite a surprise. The hike was on dark limestone that looked other worldly. We got by the falls and the water was clear and you could hear the falls in the background. The falls were awesome. We had rain the night before and some of the creek crossings were treacherous but it helped the falls. Both sets of falls are not very high but both are steep and among rock structures that people like to jump off. I really enjoyed the Upper Falls and the surrounding area.20170205_140713.jpg20170205_140539.jpg20170205_140910.jpg20170205_141025.jpg20170205_141154.jpg20170205_141712.jpg20170205_142306.jpg20170205_142626.jpg20170205_142649.jpg

I need to get back to McKinney Falls State Park to finish up some hiking and get better pictures of the scenery.

I think the next couple of blog post brings me back to the Dallas metroplex before heading down to the southern hill country to more places I have never heard but wish I knew about when I was living in San Antonio.