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.

2019 This might be Crazy

In 2018, I completed a race at every possible distance from 5K to 50K. I also hiked some of the most scenic places I have ever seen. So what am going to do to top 2018? I dug deep into my imagination and found some crazy places. I am heading back down to the Texas Hill country to hike a park I have never been to yet. I am headed back to Arkansas to hike another mountain but this time from the more difficult side. I have a race in east Texas that took my legs last year. I signed up up for to prove to myself I can beat this course. I will once again will run the Huaco Cuatro Series in Waco, TX but this time I am going to try to get my times much lower. I am doing this all in the first two months of 2019. I want to get back to Oklahoma in March and also a second possible 50K in Kansas. I will get my mini travel camper in April so I can travel in style. My big hikes this year will be to hike to the highest points in Arkansas (I have already done it once), Oklahoma and Texas. My big run this year will be to buckle up with a 100K also in Kansas. I am looking forward to getting out and running and hiking all around America.

Devil’s Den State Park Part 1

Devil’s Den State Park is located 30 minutes south of Fayetteville. AR. The park is located in the Ozark Mountains but right outside of the Ozark National Forest. I missed the leaves color change by two weeks and most of the leaves have already fallen off the trees. The area was still full of fall colors and leaves falling and branches too. The time of the trip coincided with a 30 degree average drop in temperature. The hike on the Yellow Rock Trail was in freezing temperatures. The temperature was about 29 degrees at the start and the temperature only rose about five degrees. The trails were marked great like all Arkansas SP trails. I took the three mile loop and turned it into a five mile lollipop.  The yellow rock overlook was amazing. The views were spectacular but I could not get great pictures. I was the only one on the trails at the time but the sun was affecting my camera. The fog was cool to see but also affects my pictures. The fog was mostly created by the difference in the air temperature and water temperature. This is also a CCC park and the hike to the lookout had a nice CCC pavilion at the top.  This trail also had some great rock formations lining the trail.20181126_091711.jpg20181126_091942.jpg20181126_095148.jpg20181126_102459.jpgDSC01353.JPG20181126_102916.jpg

This was hike 43 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was the typical beautiful Arkansas hike that are nothing typical anywhere else.

I realized after writing this I missed hike 42 at Bluff Creek Ranch so I will go in reverse next blog.

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.

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.