Reflective Pictures

I should be ready to travel in two weeks. In the meantime here are some photos of all of my years of hiking.

IMG_0059.jpgHawaii

IMG_1364.JPGRocky Mountain National Park

IMG00363-20110624-2024.jpgColorado

2011-06-21_07-44-11_464.jpgRoosevelt National Forest

20170405_143341.jpgGorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park

20171219_144321.jpgPalo Duro Canyon

20171209_085645.jpgElk Mountain, Wichita  Mountains Wildlife Refuge

20171111_141337.jpgPinnacle Mountain, Arkansas

DSC00384.JPGLittle Niagara Falls, Chickasaw National Recreation Area

20180513_075431.jpgPetit Jean State Park, Arkansas

20161124_083530.jpgCedar Ridge Preserve, Dallas, Texas

Just a few pictures I have taken on my journeys. I am hoping to get thousands of more pictures of new and old places. I want to visit more states and parks. Plus discover more local hiking spots. The next blog should be one of those new places so hang on for another ride.

 

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.

DanMan Challenge Half

I ran a Half Marathon. Did I mention, I RAN A HALF MARATHON. I am excited. This was my first half marathon and a big step on my goal to become an ultra runner. The run took place in Madill, OK on the Oteka D. Ranch. I realized that mind over body is the key to running long distances. Two weeks before the run I was doubting myself. The week before the run I not only got lost but also a big confidence boost. When I was lost, I ran more miles than I had run before and felt fine when I was finished. I was mentally and physically ready for the run but then the run happened.

The day before the run it was raining on and off for hours. I was hoping the course would not be too bad because the weather was dry the days prior. The forecast also had a hard freeze for the morning of the run. I have run in below freezing temperatures before so I knew what to expect. It rained the night before and it was frozen to the windshield. The temperature was 28 with a wind chill was 19 degrees. The wind was  gusting up to 20-30 miles per hour and it snowed. I also was not so lucky with mud but the ranch was beautiful. The run was free so many people were dropping down in distance but I was determined to finish my first half. After the first loop my time was what I expected it to be in perfect conditions. My second loop, the longer one, I surprised myself by passing people and picking up my pace. I finished twenty-five minutes faster than my worst case scenario time. I finished in a very nice 2:50:10. DSC00770.JPGDSC00769.JPGDSC00777.JPGDSC00779.JPGDSC00784.JPGPlus having my wife there(not pictured) and having friends cheering when I finished was awesome. This will definitely be a race I remember forever. Plus the BBQ at the end was great and the people were fantastic and friendly.

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.

Cross Timbers Trail Run 5 Mile

I signed up for this race because not only is it the oldest trail race in Texas but also one of the most difficult. What I did not expect was several inches of rain the night before and the morning of the race. The course was tough enough in perfect weather but now it is a mud run. As I mentioned before I do not like mud runs. The adventure was the trip to the race and the race itself was also strange.

First on the drive to the race I got lost. It was pitch black outside and raining hard. I am just driving along and the next thing I know I am crossing a bridge and I am in Oklahoma. I make a u-turn and five minutes later I see a sign welcoming me to Texas. I finally get to the parking lot and it starts pouring down rain again. Finally the sun is starting to rise and the rain stops.

Secondly the course was soaked and muddy and very difficult to run. As a large trail runner I especially struggled in the mud. Plus uphill in the mud is much worse with all the gravity working against me. I only passed two people on the course and they were both injured and in need of EMS personnel. I did meet several people on the trails that made it fun. I even saw one lady leaning on a tree eating pretzels. I finished in a very unimpressive time of 1:58:12 and last in my age group. I did get lost though, I might have moved up a place or two. Some of the views of Lake Texoma were very impressive but the 1000 feet of elevation change in mud was something I will not want to experience again. 20180217_071547.jpg20180217_095056.jpg20180217_072451.jpg

The funny thing about this race is I want to do it again but it has to be dry. I thing the course would be awesome and I know it would be challenging.

Next up is a fun 10K close to home.

Lake Murray State Park

Lake Murray State Park is located two hours north of Dallas in Ardmore, OK. The state park is the oldest and largest state park in Oklahoma. Half the park is the lake itself but the land part of the park is very nice. The trails were nice, even though like most trails I have been on in Oklahoma, they were poorly marked. I did not know the name of the trail I hiked even with a map so I made it an out and back. I wanted to hike to and then walk up Tucker Tower but it was closed by the time I got to the park. I basically hiked blind for five miles. The views of the lake were very nice and the terrain was rugged with a lot of elevation change. I really liked the solitude of the area I hiked. I did not go to the floating cabins or the lodge. I decided to hike the trails less traveled. They might not have been as scenic as the others but they were peaceful with a bit of difficulty.  Fishing and boating seem to be the popular activities but I am more into just hiking so I did not take full advantage of the park.  It is a nice park but ranks low on the other places I have been to in Oklahoma. 20180312_165430.jpg20180312_165442.jpgDSC00453.JPGDSC00475.JPGDSC00478.JPGDSC00484.JPGDSC00487.JPG

Lake Murray State Park is a nice park with very good trails. This was hike 18 in ny 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This is another place I never thought of visiting but the challenge is taking me to new places.

Next hike is back on the Texas state park trails.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

I love waterfalls. I do not care of the size. I love the huge straight down drop ones but also the long multi tiered shallow ones. I was even amazed by a dry one once. I had not been to this area of Oklahoma in about 20 years but this place advertised springs and waterfalls. It has been raining a bunch for about three weeks so I decided it would be a perfect time to visit the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Located in Sulphur, OK, which is about a two and a half hour drive due north of Dallas. Driving in the park to the Travertine Nature Center you pass four very different waterfalls. I was here to see Little Niagara Falls and it did not disappoint. I was not expecting a huge 40+ foot waterfall but a ten foot high velocity waterfall. I got exactly what I wanted. I got there early and there were not many people but after a three mile warmup hike, it started to fill up. It was hard to get good pictures without random people in the photo. I ended up hiking to Little Niagara, Bear Falls, Garfield Falls, Pebble Falls, Sycamore Falls, Lost Cave Falls and Panther Falls plus Travertine Island, Antelope Springs and Buffalo Springs. The falls were amazing and all different. The water was crystal clear. There were some springs and falls that are so clean that you can drink from them. I decided to pass on that decision. The number of falls seems to be a bunch but they are only about a quarter to a half mile apart. I was constantly finding more and more picturesque places here that I stayed twice as long as I scheduled. 20180312_150021.jpgPanther Falls

DSC00356.JPGBuffalo Spring

DSC00384.JPGLittle Niagara Falls

DSC00395.JPGFalls and clear water

DSC00419.JPGBear Falls I think

DSC00426.JPGGarfield Falls I think

DSC00368.JPGCrystal clear water

I had a hard time narrowing down what pictures to use. I would use all different pictures at a different time. This was awesome and I only hiked half of the park. I will definitely have to return.

This was also hike 17 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This series has me exploring places that have been magnificient to see. So far I have hiked up mountains, down in canyons, around lakes and on a beach.

The next hike I continue my exploration of Oklahoma.