New Year’s Day Outside Activities

Not quite a dive but more like a dip. More on that later. I convinced my kids that it would be fun to do a New Year’s Day hike and then jump into cold water. The weather the days before had been in the mid 60s and dry. The adventure looked like the timing would be perfect. Hiking in 60 degree weather with the sun shining and a great view of a three tier waterfall. After a short but hilly hike, a plunge into cold water but returning to warm air sounded awesome. The main problem was Texas weather. A cold front blew in the night before and instead of mid 60s we had low 30s. I do not mind hiking in cold weather. I have hike long distances in the teens and low 20s so the temperature did not concern me. The kids on the other hand preferred the warmth of their beds. I eventually got them up and out of the house. The good thing is we have had a bunch of rain lately and the waterfall at Cleburne State Park was flowing really strong. The creek crossing that was not overflowing two weeks ago was now overflowing. We had to get a baby across and make a jump onto slick rocks without falling. We all survived but others around us did not even try to cross with small children.20190101_110157.jpgWhere we made our jump20190101_110552.jpgThe waterfall20190101_110813.jpgCold but happy

Next up was a drive to Dinosaur Valley State Park for the Dino Dive. The water was cold but the air temperature was the worst part. We chickened out of a full submerging but did get our feet wet and that was it. We agreed to jump in next year no matter the temperature.20190101_122801.jpgThe plunge area which was very deep and a fast of current also.20190101_124933.jpgAll smiles before the dip20190101_131423.jpgStill smiling but they look so cold20190101_131548.jpgYes that is me in the cold water

It was a fun day overall. I had a great time with my kids and they a good time also. We are going to make this a tradition so we can get outside do fun stuff.

Next blogs will be some top 10 2018 moments.

Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run 5 Miler

I decided to do a short 5 miler to test out my legs in a trail race. This race takes place at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX.  I have ran here and hiked here many times over the past two years.  This race did not actually start in the park but outside a back gate I did not even knew was there. Even though it was an odd place to start, the race quickly hit a familiar hill that is on every race directors places to have us run.  It was good to get to this particular hill early because it is a leg killer. Since I was only doing a 5 miler, I only had one technical downhill and the rest of the race was fairly easy. I was really surprised at my time. I have been trying to get a sub one hour 5 miler on a technical course and have not come close. I did not break one hour but if I knew how close I was I might have run myself into ground to get the time.  The course was not marked the best but I love running here and I was not going to get lost. I actually won my age group for the first time ever.47214235_2039622916060971_520785078360473600_o.jpgIMG_6298.JPGIMG_6406.JPG

I am going to start training for another tough race next year. I am planning to run a 27K with two miles of elevation change. This is going to be much different than my 50K on a relatively flat course. The 50K had two thirds of a mile of elevation change. I will run hills most of the year to prepare. I am also going to do less races but longer distances with more hills.

Next are my final hikes of the year. East Texas here I come.

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park is located in Glen Rose, TX which is an hour south west of Dallas. I have been here five times before for hiking, camping and trail running. The park is so big that I have not hiked or been on the entire park’s trail system. I decided to hike the part of the park I have done a trail race on but never hiked in the area. The inclines were just as hard hiking as they were running. The park has many amazing views and some distinct rock formations. The park borders on the hill country part of Texas. It has many limestone ridges that rise over the Paluxy River. The elevation gains come early and often and are very steep. The dinosaur tracks are always nice to see but I am more interested in the other scenic views. I got to see some very cool rock formations that produce valleys in the middle of the park.20180818_154151.jpgDSC01232.JPG20180818_154158.jpgDSC01247.JPGDSC01241.JPGDSC01257.JPG

This was hike 37 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I really like this state park. This will definitely not be my last visit. I had a great 4 plus mile hike.

My next blog is back on trail running.

The Mammoth 10K

 

The Mammoth 5K was my first trail race last year. I had a great time camping and hiking  at Dinosaur Valley SP and running the race the next morning. I decided not to camp out this year and run the 10K. The course was tough. I knew from last year the course would be difficult but the 10K course was more than twice as hard. The course climbed the steep trail that leads to the summit of the park. I ran this trail at my last race here but that was part of a 5K and the rest of that race was downhill. This time after the hill the race was only a quarter the done. The course then went down and back up to the second highest point in the park. The course seemed longer than 10K but it had some very serene parts. The long scenic parts allowed me to get a steady pace for awhile. My time of 1:32:07 put me in the top half overall but only in the top two thirds of all males. IMG_21571.jpg22791979_723111514560647_1938614310425051603_o.jpgIMG_21591.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpgIMG_21601.jpg

I will be doing the 15K next year. I really like being at this park for both hiking and running. This was also my last trail 10K this year. I have two more trail runs left this year.

My next next race is the final race of the Huaco Cuatro.

Jurassic 5K Trail Run

This is my third Xterra trail race and my third third place finish. This is also my third trip to Dinosaur Valley SP. It is also my second of three night trail races sort of. I will get to that in a future blog. The pattern of three was interesting but just a sidebar. I had done a few road 10Ks prior to this run. The distance did not bother me but the course was brutal. This is my second race here and this course was more difficult and it took me five minutes longer than my first trail 5K at the park. This course lead the runners to the top of park and on the steepest trail in the park. The first mile was basically straight up hill with a few flat breaks. We were literally going uphill with hands on the ground. The rest of the course was downhill but very technical and very dark.  The single track downhill was also on the side of cliffs, so falling off of one of those kept my pace slower than normal. My time of 47:04 was not too bad considering the conditions. It was also a hot and humid Texas July night.20170708_194715(0).jpg20170708_195321.jpg20170708_195234.jpg20170708_213652.jpg19748616_1216874245085178_9067091331563840417_n.jpg

At this point, I did not realize I do not like running at night. I ran two more times at night and now I will not do it anymore. I say so but it might happen again in a special circumstance.

My next trail run is at my favorite place to trail run. Plus it is just five minutes from home.

Lost Maples SNA Part 2

This visit to Lost Maples SNA was not planned. I had the whole family with me and we were going to spend the day at Garner SP but when we got there it was full and would not reopen till later in the day. I had big plans for Garner SP that day but the derailment did not discourage me so we went to Lost Maples SNA. This time I drove on scenic highway 377. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour for a reason. The road has a real Colorado Rocky Mountain feel to it but with guard rails. Steep cliffs are on both sides of the road and the inclines and declines freak me out. I usual have my wife behind the wheel for drives like this but this was an unpleasant surprise for me. Now if you like some of the most special views of the Texas hill country this is the road for you. The views were amazing when I dared to take my eyes off the road. It was a truly incredible drive but I just rather have two feet on the ground.

The good and bad of having the entire family is that we hike at a much slower pace but with the slower pace I can take in what I possibly missed the first time. This was a shorter hike on the East-West Trail and it was flat trail hiking only. I did get to get a better view of the second set of twin waterfalls. 20170712_151218.jpg20170712_151652.jpg20170712_154619.jpg20170712_155505.jpg20170712_160924.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

I also like some of the signs in the state parks in which I find humorous. Some are suppose to funny like the bigfoot crossing sign in Dinosaur Valley SP. Some are informative like the alligator signs in Huntsville SP. The ones I like the most are the obvious ones like getting to close to the edge is dangerous and there is a cliff behind the sign or this where the trail ends sign and there is nothing behind the sign.20170712_160202.jpg20170712_145257.jpg

I was thankful for the warnings but got a laugh out of both the signs. I did do the steep and rugged mile and a half hike the first time. The sign is very accurate and it was a tough hike and then some.

The next blog will about a park back up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area sort of.

Cleburne State Park

This state park was a pleasant surprise. It is located in Cleburne, TX, which is between 30-45 minutes southwest of the DFW metroplex off of Hwy. 67. I have driven past this park several times going Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX which also off of Hwy. 67. The park is another CCC park and the rock bridge and damn are incredibly built. The park has many features but I was here for the man made waterfall. This park is another park I did not think about visiting and never heard of till I was passing the signs directing passersby to the park.  I am glad I stopped by the park because it was worth the trip. The entrance sign was CCC built and then you cross a CCC bridge both very nice.20170211_124131.jpg20170211_124919.jpg

We hiked the Spillway Trail to the gem of the park. A three tier CCC spillway that doubles as a magnificent waterfall after a good rain. We, Dade and I, went when we did not have rain in awhile but still the water was flowing. 20170211_133017.jpg20170211_135649.jpg20170211_135523.jpg

Now if the spillway was not cool enough the limestone walls and the CCC steps along side the spillway was a pleasure to hike and see.20170211_135541.jpg20170211_132538.jpg20170211_140411.jpg

Once you get up past the spillway and on top of the limestone wall you get a great view of both Cedar Lake and Camp Creek. The view is marvelous and you can see for miles on a clear day.20170211_134114.jpg20170211_133720.jpg

A bonus of this park is once you get a view from the top you can see other off shoot trails leading down to Camp Creek. A good reason to get down to Camp Creek is the view of all three tiers of the spillway. 20170211_135533.jpg20170211_134819.jpg

I like this park because it is a good exploring park. We did get lost right from the get go but we quickly got back on course. We hiked about a half mile off course but still had a good adventure seeing the lower side of Camp Creek, a large gully to cross and some more limestone formations. You can follow the creek to the spillway or the trail. The walk up and down the CCC steps and crossing over on the spillway was also possible due to the low water. The park is packed with trails in a small area and plenty of scenic features. Next up are some hill country parks, the popular parks of central Texas.