Do Wacka Do 25K

The race was located in Erick, OK at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Area in western Oklahoma.  I was drawn in by background picture of a canyon trail.  The picture was very accurate. The views were awesome.  They were the best part of the race and a reason to run it again.  The run was not particularly crowded also. Plus they had port o potties with showers.20190907_064728.jpgEarly start of the race20190907_071301.jpgSun rising over the plains

The course was mainly jeep trail and no shade to be had the entire race. The course covered from canyon rim down into canyon basin and back up several times. The 25K was a 16.2 mile loop with just under 1400 feet of elevation gain. There were four aid stations along the way strategically place at the top of some very steep and long climbs. A switchback or two would not have hurt. Most of the hills were straight up and only one had the benefit of switchbacks.20190907_072653.jpgView over the canyon

The 25K, 50K and 50 miler started at 7 AM and it was a cool low humidity morning but it was hot around 9:30 AM and I do not believe the aid stations were prepared for the type of heat that was coming later in the day. I was worried about fellow DDR because he was doing the 50 miler in 100 degree heat. The aid stations were not like Habanero i.e. ice was not plentiful.20190907_075854.jpgLooking for shade20190907_080248.jpgShade in the canyon basin

As for myself, I ran at a good steady pace the entire race. The hills kept me from going to fast out of the gate. STRAVA says I ran my third fastest 1/2 marathon. I was surprised since there was a bunch of elevation on this course. I finished in a good time of 3:33:23 and 21st out of 47. I rarely finish in the top half of a race this distance. The longer runners did not fare as well. One of the 50K and one of the 50 miler runners dropped down to 25K. Of the 16 runners that started the 50 miler only 6 finished and 9 dropped down to the 50K.

FB_IMG_1567911109026.jpgStart/Finish line

On a side note, I would usually take my camper out to the races.  I decided to get a hotel because I thought it would be to hot to stay in without electricity.  It was cool enough over night not to have electricity and the hotel was a nightmare.  First, the shower did not work and did not find out until the morning of the race and was up to late to do anything about it. Secondly, I saw what I believe was blood splatter on the drapes. Oh crap there was blood spots on the drapes.  I finally got the shower to work by almost ripping the handle off the wall.  I went across the street to get disinfectant for the room because of blood splatter on the drapes.  The TV malfunctioned and I had to fix it, I did not to not have TV with blood on the drapes. I will be using my camper from here on out.

Caprock Canyon State Park Canyon Rim Trail

This trail was within walking distance of my campsite and although it is not a very long or a difficult trail the views were amazing.  I walked passed the prairie dog area and there was the trailhead.  I got out early in the morning and was the only one on the trail.  The temperature was relatively cool but the horseflies were driving me nuts.  The trail followed the rim of a small part of the canyon, hence the name.  The canyon colors were on full display and the depth of the canyon was easily seen up close and personal.

The trail is a loop so I started on the prairie side of the trail and finished with the canyon rim side on the way back.  The prairie side had great views of the other side of the park with the colorful vistas.  The rim side of the trail overlooks the canyon.20190718_075657.jpgThe prairie side of the trail with red rock in the background20190718_075702.jpgThe white rock background off of the prairie side20190718_080920.jpgI like the mix of colors20190718_083300.jpgTrying to get the depth of the canyon20190718_083546.jpgLooking down at the canyons layers20190718_092404.jpgFinally got a picture of the entrance on the way out.

Bonus pictures20190718_081232.jpg20190718_084714.jpg

Caprock Canyon State Park Eagle Point Trail

I was back for the third time at Caprock Canyon State Park.  I wanted to hike two different trails that I did not get to the first time I was here.  First, Eagle Point Trail is a two mile out and back trail that goes to the natural tunnel and bridge.

I got on the trail later than expected due to the 100+ degree temperature.  The temperature never went down too much but it was a dry desert heat.  Hiking here was much different than hiking in the hill country which was very humid.  Although the temperature was hotter in the panhandle of Texas, I did not sweat as much as I did in the south of Texas.  The trails were not occupied by people but the bison rerouted me twice. I started down Eagle Point Trail and about a half mile in a bison was camped out around one of the corners.  I decided that the bison could have the trail and back tracked to the trailhead. 20190717_190525.jpgMy friend peeking around the corner.

I started my second attempt on the trail from the other trailhead.  The views were impressive as usual.  This place is so large that you could hike for days and see something different each day.  20190717_192700.jpgStart of the other trailhead.20190717_192845.jpgHere I go again.20190717_193352.jpgThe natural bridge and tunnel area with my shadow.20190717_200557.jpgSun setting in the canyon20190717_201509.jpgFavorite picture of the day20190717_203358.jpgI am in a ditch trying to avoid another bison.  I was a half mile from the trailhead again.20190717_190050.jpgFirst time seeing a horned toad this big.

I miss this park already.

Wild Canyon Ultra 10K/Hike?

I am trying to decide if this goes down as a trail run or speed hike. On trail runs, I usually get pre and post run pictures. On hikes, I get pictures all during the hike. This was a registered race but I got no pre or post race pictures and took twenty plus pictures on the second half of the course. The views were so amazing and it was an out and back course so I had a chance to get pictures without missing more scenery. It is a win win for me however I see it because I had another chance to be in the great outdoors.

The race was held at Caprock Canyon State Park. It is one of my favorites. The last time I was here, the skies were clear and the temperature was rising. Just the opposite this time. The temperatures were falling and the rain and storms were on there way. The race started in the fog was that way my entire run. The course held up well while I was running. There were some muddy spots but not too bad. The course started at a high point in the park and we ran down into a valley than back up to a high point and that was the halfway point. I knew it was going to be a rough and muddy uphill finish. I was not worried about my time. I was racing the rain. I saw lightning the the thunder rumbled. I knew the rain was close behind. I finished in a decent time for the course 1:19:42. My first top half finish in a 10K. 20180421_084344.jpg20180421_084349.jpg20180421_091122.jpg20180421_091417.jpg20180421_0913241.jpg20180421_084738.jpg

The rain held off until I finished. It starting pouring down rain three minutes after I was done. West Texas storms are crazy. The rain drops are bigger, the lightning is brighter and the thunder is louder. Did I forget the hail is faster. I am glad I did the 10K instead of the 25K. I would have been miserable running in that down pour with hail. Plus cloud to ground lightning bolts are nice to see from a distance inside but not close by and outside.

This will go down as hike 27 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series due to the picture taking during the run/hike.

 

Copper Breaks State Park

Copper Breaks State Park is located in Quanah, TX which is about four hours north west of Dallas. This park was mind blowing. It is not as grand as Palo Duro or Caprock Canyon State Parks but they all three have similar features. The red rock with white stripes and the steep sheer cliffs is something that they all have as geological features. But Copper Breaks has some quirky looking features the other two do not have in them. The Permian Sea Tide Ripples were a nice surprise and the ripples in some of the elevation change areas were also a different aspect of the park. I am a fan of the natural balancing rocks and the park had many to see. The park trails also overlook Lake Copper Breaks and the Pease River. I only hiked the two most challenging trails but I ended up hiking double the mileage it showed on the map. I did not get off trail and never felt lost but my get lost factor is always high. This park also has part of the official Texas Longhorn herd and is an International Dark Sky Park. I am planning on making a trip out here for an overnight visit or a stargazing tour. The day I was here it was overcast and I saw no longhorns. DSC00810.JPG20180420_173918.jpgDSC00815.JPGDSC00827.JPGDSC00830.JPGDSC00845.JPGDSC00872.JPGDSC00862.JPG

I hope these pictures can depict how incredible this park looks. I look at the pictures I take and they still do not relay the imagery I see in person. This was hike 26 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I am at the halfway point in the challenge and what a great hike to get to this point.

Next blog is a hike but also a trail run. It might also be a trail run that turned into a speed hike. I might just call it a trail runhike with tons of pictures. Whatever it was it was very fun.

Caprock Canyon State Park

I had another great time in a Texas canyon. I did get caught out on the trail low on water. The temperature rose fairly quick and I had to backtrack on a trail that added an additional mile plus. The park is located about two hours southeast of Amarillo. Caprock Canyon State Park has a different look from Palo Duro Canyon and the Grand Canyon. Caprock Canyon does not have a flat top look around the rim of the canyon. The rim is more jagged and uneven than the other two. I was once again amazed at the vastness of the canyon. I would need several trips to the canyon to see half of what I want to see. I did not see any buffalo but I did not realize it. I did not see the natural bridge and I want to see it the next time I visit. I also did not get to walk the rim but that is something I will also need to work on. I hiked the Canyon Loop Trail and the Upper Canyon Trail at the North Prong part of the canyon. I was going to also hike the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail but that is where my problems started. The trail was literally straight up which was not a problem. It also had a small rock hole opening to get to the rim. I am to big to try to squeeze through an opening that small. I had to backtrack and try the other side of the trail. It was also extremely steep and I was already running low on water. I decided I would have to try at a different time. I still loved seeing all the geologic rock formations. The reds were also deeper and darker that Palo Duro Canyon. I did get to see the Last Dance hoodoo which is a popular sight at the park. I was also fascinated by the white crystal bands in the red rocks.20171220_124257.jpg20171220_122604.jpg20171220_124508.jpg20171220_124758.jpg20171220_133003.jpg20171220_133705.jpg

I cannot wait to get another chance to get back to this park. I will make the effort to see the natural bridge, the buffalo and get to the rim.

This hike was also the 6th hike of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. As of now I have no hikes planned. I do have some state parks I want to go to this year. I will blog about those parks and my 52 Hike Challenge plan for 2018.