Crab Eyes Wichita Mountains

I had to go back to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge to complete a hike I started a long time ago.  Crab Eyes is a rock formation located near Elk Mountain and on the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area.  I like the balancing rock formations almost as much as I like waterfalls.  This hike was not easy.  There were some steep inclines and the usual lack of trail markings.  I really like hiking here and will be back again to do a couple other hikes I have not gotten to do.

The hike takes you through a forest like area and several water crossings.  You will hike in an open area and see all the mountains surrounding the area. You will traverse down into a valley and then back up to Crab Eyes. The last climb is steep but absolutely worth the trip.  The views getting to the destination are also some of the better views you get in the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area.  The hike was a 4.5 mile out and back.  The weird thing at the beginning of the hike was a longhorn steer on the trail.  I decided to take a different way to the trailhead.  I thought it would be gone by the time I returned, nope it was still there.  I took my chances this time since it was more interested in grazing and further off the trail.  20190420_074345.jpgIt was big and angry looking.20190420_080928.jpgOpen area with a view20190420_082725.jpgWorking my way up20190420_083231.jpgHere I am near the top. Last pic on the trip up.  20190420_084004.jpgI thought this was just a cool pic to get on the way back20190420_085856.jpgOpen plain on the way back to the trailhead

I get back to trail running for the next month and a half.  I am going to try to fit in some hiking but I signed up for plenty of runs until June.

Great Plains State Park

Great Plains State Park is located in Mountain Park, OK., which is about about 45 minutes west northwest of Lawton.  The name of the city is an ideal name because it is surrounded by mountains.  It is between the Wichita Mountains and the Quartz Mountains.  The Great Plains State Park is miss named because it is nothing but hills and mountains.   This was also my headquarters to go between the two mountains ranges.  I unfortunately did not make to the Quartz Mountains.  The prior day I spent more time than I thought at the Wichita Mountains.  Plus this being the first trip with my camper I had some “forgot some stuff issues.”  I did get some hiking time in this state park.

The park had the usual lack of trail markings I come to expect while hiking in Oklahoma.  This time my hike to an unusual turn for the worse.  I headed to the trailhead which was marked by an orange bucket with a flag in it.  I had a map, it looked like somebody just drew it, and a compass so I felt comfortable.  I also started the hike with plenty of sunlight and the park was not that big.  At the first split in the trail I went in a direction that would take me back toward my campsite.  The trail had no markings but there were cairns on the side of the trail every few feet.  I quickly realized that this trail was not taking me up the mountain but around it.  I wanted to get some elevation change plus look down on the park and see other mountain ranges in the distance.  I back tracked to the split and headed the other direction.

This trail was a bit more defined but still no markings.  I started to see blue tape on trees by the trail.  I was guessing this was the trail marking.  I followed them up to the top of the mountain overlooking my campsite.  I got to see everything I wanted and had markings to follow to get back down.  I followed the blue markings and quickly realized this is not the way I got up here.  Then the markings went away, I tried to backtrack but I could not find the trail I was on originally.  The trail map was no help at all.  I went back to one of the higher ridge lines of the mountain and found the dam that was close to my campsite.  I decided to take a direct route to the dam.  I was on a trail most of the way down until the trail started to circle back up the mountain.  I stayed the steady course downward and I had to bushwhack a bit to get to another clearing.  As the sun was setting and trees were now blocking my view of anything, I thought of calling 911.  I gave myself fifteen more minutes of straight hiking to find something I recognized.  I continued in a straight line and I saw a campsite.  It was the one in which was camping at but I did not know at the time.  I finally get to the road and feel good.  I see my camper and now I know I am about a half mile from the trailhead.

I hike the shoreline trail back to my car and the trailhead.  I make it safely before the sun sets.  The funny thing is I was not prepared to camp in a camper but was prepared to get lost hiking.  20190419_184628.jpgTrail markings20190419_184452.jpgMore trail markings20190419_185554.jpgMaking my way up20190419_191548.jpgThe reason I hiked to the top20190419_191652.jpgThey were waiting for me.20190419_192233.jpgMy way back downhill.20190419_194843.jpgFinally the Shoreline trail.

I survived to hike another day.  Next up, I went back to the Wichita Mountains to finish a hike I started over a year ago.

 

The Narrows Wichita Mountains

This was my third trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton, OK.  I have been hiking two to three sections at a time.  I have heard about the Narrows from other hikers, so I decided to check it out.  The trailheads here are poorly marked and the trails are not marked, so finding the trail and going the right direction took some help.  Although the trail markings are nonexistent, the trails are a blast to hike.  After getting directions from a fellow hiker, I took a one and a half mile out and back turned it into a two mile adventure.  It had rain plenty the past few weeks and the river had a brisk flow.  The trail had several steep inclines and the elevation gains and loses were quick and long.  I did lose the trail once but I was down in a valley with only one way out so the only thing I needed to do is hike up.  It was fairly crowded for my taste but not overly crowded.  There are many overlooks on the trail and the temperature was perfect for the lizards that were out sunbathing. 20190419_160813.jpg20190419_161831.jpg20190419_162807.jpg20190419_155753.jpg20190419_154404.jpg20190420_165516.jpg

Next up was a hike gone almost terribly wrong that involved bushwhacking.

Post Oak Falls Wichita Mountains

My adventures to waterfalls this year have been hit or miss. I have had some surprises and some disappointments. I was really hoping that Post Oak Falls would be one of those falls that would leave me breathless. So far every hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has lived up to or exceeded my expectations. Post Oak Falls was a mix of surprise and disappointment. The waterfall was dry when I got to Post Oak Falls so that was the disappointment. The surprise was what the waterfall could have been if it was flowing. There was some water frozen on the cliff where the waterfall would have been. The waterfall was somewhat hidden in a narrow cove almost like it was on a side trail. It was a very cool place to find a waterfall. I hike to the waterfall and back was a moderate hike. It had some elevation change, challenging footing and bushwacking. The hike also had nice views of the mountains, Post Oak Creek and Treasure Lake.20171209_102141.jpg20171209_103634.jpg20171209_103638.jpg20171209_103507.jpg20171209_105210.jpg20171209_105738.jpg

Hopefully the next time I am here, it would have rained several inches so I can get a good view of Post Oak Falls flowing. I believe this can be one of the more impressive waterfalls.

Next up is a best of 2017 blog. I was going to do a top 10 hike list but there are too many to chose from. I am going to do a 2017 top 10 places I have hiked this year list.

Forty Foot Hole Wichita Mountains

I decided on December 1st 2017 to do another 52 Hike Challenge. I completed my first challenge this year in 46 weeks. The challenge I just finished was the Adventure Challenge. The hikes had to include things like waterfalls, sunset/sunrise, group, reflective, bucket list amd others. This challenge will entail 52 different hikes. I did repeat a few hikes last time but this time no repeating. I am also going to try to finish some trails I did not finish last year.

The Forty Foot Hole is located in the Wichita Mountains in Lawton, OK. This is my second visit and I got to finish this trail from the opposite direction. This side of the trail did not have all the waterfalls but had one nice one. The Forty Foot Hole was amazing. I hiked the rim and then hiked along the river. I could not believe how picturesque this place looked at dusk. I wish I had more time here but I was looking for another trailhead in which I did not find until it was dark. I will be back here to do some more hiking.20171208_162030.jpg20171208_160150.jpg20171208_164933.jpg20171208_162255.jpg20171208_173832.jpg20171208_173613.jpg

This was another fun trip. I did not see a buffalo this time but I did see the biggest elk I have ever seen. This place is great and well worth a return trip to finish off some other hikes I want to complete.

My next hike continues in the Wichita Mountains but this time it is a summit hike.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

I heard about this place on a random search for a place to run a trail race. I did not find a trail race but did find a quarter marathon race. I signed up for the race and did some research on the area around Lawton, OK. I found that the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was minutes away and has some great hiking. I did not realize is that I was doing a 10K trail race the day before the quarter marathon race. My schedule was to wake up early Saturday and run a 10K trail race then drive three and half hours to Lawton, OK and hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. On Sunday, wake up early again and run a quarter marathon and then hike the Wichita Wildlife Refuge again and then make the return drive back home. I packed in a bunch of miles in one weekend. A total of 13 miles running and eight miles of hiking.

I love this place. I got to see bison and longhorns. Bison are the biggest animals I have ever seen. The mountains are beautiful and there are so many places to see and trails to hike. I had seven trails I wanted to hike. I settled on completing two and partial hiking two others. I got to summit a small mountain and walk across a dam. I did some bouldering and saw many small and large waterfalls. I hiked on grasslands and forest like areas. I met many friendly people and a copperhead snake.

On Saturday, I hiked the Kite Trail and Little Baldy Mountain. I saw the bison on this day on the way between the trails. Kite Trail ran along Lost Lake and large creek. I did most of my bouldering and waterfall watching on this trail.20170930_163839.jpg20170930_164242.jpg20170930_165904.jpg20170930_164500.jpg20170930_170451.jpg20170930_170058.jpg20170930_170617.jpg20170930_180254.jpg

There were so many more pictures but these were the ones I chose. The next hike was the summit of Little Baldy Mountain and a walk across a dam. This was the shortest of the four hikes but had the most elevation change. I also got lost several times on this hike and the previous hike. The trails were not marked at all as I found out. I had to talk to many people just to get to and stay on the correct trail.20170930_181958.jpg20170930_181900.jpg20170930_182743.jpg20170930_182311.jpg20170930_183749.jpg20170930_183746.jpg20170930_185522.jpg20170930_185648.jpg

I saw some cool balancing rock formations on both of these hikes. I wanted to get another hike in that day but I ran out of sunlight.

I will continue my Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge blog next with the second day of running and more hiking.