Spicewood Springs Colorado Bend State Park

I got back to Colorado Bend State Park and it was much overdue.  I hiked the Spicewood Springs area of the park.  I hiked down Spicewood Springs and up Spicewood Canyon trails and it was five miles of leg busting beauty.  My first trip I did Gorman Falls and that area but I wanted to do the other side of the park this time.

It was the usual hot and humid Texas summer weather.  I got to hike it with little to people because I was out there midweek and midday.  I can say I did not get lost but just misdirected two or three times.  Hiking these trails counter clockwise was not a good idea.  I hit all the steep hills on the back half of the hike and the gradual downhills at the beginning.

I wanted to do this section for the waterfalls and the crystal clear pools of water and it did not disappoint.  The views were breathtaking and it is hard to put in words all the combinations of sights and sounds.  20190628_101624.jpgA view from the top of the first big waterfall20190628_102138.jpgClear water pool from the waterfall20190628_104001.jpgOver the ledge view of another waterfall and clear water20190628_104347.jpgTwin waterfall20190628_104444.jpgAnother set of twin waterfalls and more clear water20190628_104720.jpgClear swimming hole 20190628_110209.jpgFinal view from the top

The Texas Hill country is the place to be this summer.

Pedernales Falls SP Pedernales Falls Trail

I am back at Pedernales Falls Trail and this time I went further upstream.  Just to get this out of the way, I got lost on the way back and had to follow the horse trail to the main road.  I used a compass to go in the right direction and from the main road I hiked back to the parking lot and trailhead.

The falls were flowing with more intensity than the last time I was here.  I decided to go to the obvious picturesque spots then headed up the river.  I was happy that there were few people out today and got all the pictures I wanted.  It was a midday day middle of the week hike so I did not expect to see many people.  As most know I love waterfalls and I just kept following them further up the river.  I would have kept going but the sound of thunder and a cool breeze with darkened clouds cut my hike short.  It did not rain but this area is prone to flash floods and the river rises fast.  I did get to parts of the park I had been to before and it was a great hike.  The park gets better every time I am here and it did not disappoint.  20190627_170801.jpgMy favorite picture of the day20190627_171544.jpgFour armadillos20190627_172334.jpgTrying out new settings on my camera phone20190627_172817.jpgMy favorite beach spot20190627_180044.jpgSky was changing20190627_180744.jpgClear water and darkening clouds

I have one more day in the Texas hill country before returning home. I visit another park I have to but a different park.

Pedernales Falls State Park Twin Falls Hike

Two years ago a went to Pedernales Falls State Park to go see the Pedernales Falls.  I was very impressed with the falls and at the time the best waterfalls I have seen up close.  On the trail map there was another trail leading to Twin Falls, I did not have time to go to that trail.  I returned to the park a few months later for the single reason to see Twin Falls.  I, of course, got lost but hiked up the Pedernales river and had a great time. Third time’s a charm and I found the waterfall this time.  I cannot believe I missed the turn last time.  The hike was about a quarter mile and there was Twin Falls.  The trail leading all the down was closed but I got to the scenic overlook.  I was back to the trailhead in thirty minutes.  I decided to head back down to the Pedernales river and hike it again.  The river was packed with people by the Trammel Crossing trailhead so hiked down river and had some peace and quiet to get a few good pictures.  I ended up getting just two miles but it was a nice hike and finally got to see Twin Falls.20190627_155638Twin Falls view from the overlook20190627_161640.jpgPedernales River20190627_161954.jpgTrammel Crossing is under water20190627_163116.jpgHiking buddy20190627_155119.jpgTexas Hill Country20190627_192539.jpg

I stayed in the park to get another hike in and also visit another local state park. I love being in this area of Texas.

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.

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.

Rough Creek Trail Run 10K

The Rough Creek Trail Run is held in Glen Rose, TX which is about an hour and a half southwest of the DFW metroplex. I chose this particular race because I wanted a tough but short race before my 25K the next week. I am getting really use to running 10Ks now so this was the perfect distance. The tough part was the infamous Rusty Crown. The Rusty Crown consist of several 40+ degree gradient up and down hills ranging from 300 to 80 feet in length. If the uphill does not wear you out, the downhill will knock you down. I did not make the mistake I made last race but not eating enough. I was properly nutritioned and ready to run. The course had some rain on it from the previous days but held up well and the steepest parts were fine. Prior to the race it was great to see all the familiar faces from the different running clubs. The Waco Striders Running Club had members running the half marathon, North Texas Trail Runners and Dallas Dirt Runners had runners in all of the distances. The Rough Creek Ranch was absolutely beautiful and the morning sky was awesome. The sky was mostly cloudy and there was a heavy fog before the race. By the time the race started, the sky was clear and the fog has burned off. The Rusty Crown was everything I had heard about. It was a tough first climb and the first decent was the worse part of the entire Rusty Crown. The rest of the ups and downs were difficult but the first two were leg killers. On the way up many people had to stop and take breaks and some had to bear crawl up the incline. On the way down several people fell or just slid down on their bottoms. I had a strong run and felt good the entire time. I did not fall or need to use my hands to go up the inclines. My time of 1:27:41 was a good time for me. I took 4th in my age group and finished with four negative splits. I even passed five people in the last mile and a half.  20180915_063643.jpg20180915_071259.jpg20180915_072049.jpg20180915_092101.jpg

I had a good time at this race and feel really good about the race next week. Plus this was the race I did not get lost and also directed about a dozen other runners who missed a turn back on course.