Ragnar Trail Hill Country

I have been wanting to run this race for almost two years. Last year I did not have a team so I just waited for this year asking anybody if they were going to run Ragnar this year. North Texas Trail Runners stepped up and put together three teams. I was on the regular team since I am nowhere near being in shape to do a Ragnar Ultra. The race took place in Comfort, TX which is north west of San Antonio. It was on a private ranch which was nice. The race comprises of 8 runners and 3 distances repeated until all 8 runners complete all 3 distances. I like the fact that we ran loops unlike the road Ragnar which is a point to point race. The weather during the race was perfect. The problem was the weeks of rain prior to the race. The camp area was a mud pit. The course held up fairly well in most places. I decided not to go down early and stay the night to avoid the rain the night before. I was also lucky to pick which leg I wanted to run. I choose leg 6 for two reasons. I knew I would only have to run one leg in the dark and also I would run the longest distance first and the shortest distance last. The first leg was 7.5 miles and it was awesome. The only slow down was a cow on the course. There were plenty of cows around the ranch but this one decided to stop right in front of me. I looped around it and kept on going. The cool temperature offset the wet course and I had a really good first leg and felt great after the run. The second leg was 5 miles of misery. I could not find my brightest headlamp. The temperature was still cool but the humidity rose. My glasses kept fogging up. Plus this was the leg I was running at night. This leg also had the most falls and people getting hurt. I did not fall but I stubbed my toe really bad. I was limping with no glasses in the dark with a dim light. I really struggled with that leg. I survived the night run but I was tired and needed rest. I got two hours of sleep and I was up ready for my final leg. I had about three hours to wait but I could not get back to sleep. The last leg was 3 miles and not too technical. I was physically tired and wanted to take it easy. I started off slow but felt good and finished fast. I finished and felt good and kept on running. My team was awesome and it included my sister. I had a great time with a great group of people. I also had some time with other running groups like the Dallas Dirt Runners, Waco Striders Running Club and Cedar Hill Running Club. FB_IMG_1540128922822.jpgThese are the three loops with the elevation profile.FB_IMG_1540078922437.jpgFB_IMG_1540078936861.jpgFB_IMG_1540128947046.jpgThe trails and views from the trail.FB_IMG_1540129038101.jpgFB_IMG_1540155115940.jpgThe mud fest that was the camping area.

This was one of my bucket list runs. I have done a few bucket list items this calendar year. This race has definitely moved to the top of my favorite races list.

I get back on the hiking trails next and I ramp up my training for the 50K.

Blanco State Park

I was looking at a map of my trip from one state park to another and Blanco State Park pops up as a park I could visit. The park was not out of the way but off the beaten path just a bit. It is located in Blanco, TX which is about an hour north of San Antonio. I was lucky enough to get to drive on HWY 290, 281 and FM 32. I mention these roads because these have some of the most scenic spring time views Texas has to offer. The blooming flowers on 290, the ranch land and small towns on 281 and the canyon views on FM 32. In addition to the three scenic roads previously mentioned, I also drove through Luckenbach and Farm Rd 1623 follows the Blanco River all the way to the park. It was a nice view of the river for miles before going to the park of its namesake.

The park itself is one of the smaller state parks. The trails were well marked and easy to find and follow. They were both out and back trails that stayed along the river. The park seemed like a city park that was converted into a state park by adding cabins. This is a CCC park so the buildings were a pleasure to look at with the rock designs. The park main attraction was a man made damn that doubled as a cool waterfall. I did not get any good pictures because there were always too many people in that area. The hike was easy with few elevation changes. 20180330_115406.jpg20180330_115812.jpgDSC00609.JPGDSC00626.JPGDSC00641.JPGDSC00630.JPGDSC00618.JPG

The whole park experience was a good time. The drive to and from the park and the park itself made the visit worth the travel. This was also hike 22 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up is the BBQ capitol of Texas where I order pizza.

2018 hiking plans, maybe.

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I am at it again. I already have done six hikes. This year is the Explorer Series so I will be doing 52 different hikes. No repeating hikes during this challenge. I am also going to try not to repeat hikes from last year. Which means going to many different Texas state parks this year. I went to 26 different parks in the last challenge and already two more in this challenge. I looked at a Texas map and began to find some close day trip parks and then some distant vacation type parks. I also will go to a few parks from last challenge but hike different trails. I came up with three list of parks. I am hoping I can do what I have planned out but that rarely happens. So hear it goes.

New Parks for day trip: All of these parks are with a two and half hour drive except the first one.

Abilene SP, Eisenhower SP, Fort Richardson SP, Lake Arrowhead SP, Lake Tawakoni SP, Purtis Creek SP and Ray Roberts Lake SP.

New Vacation type trips: These parks are over three hour drive away and might need to make a weekend out of the trip.

Atlanta SP, Bastrop SP, Blanco SP, Bueschler SP, Copper Breaks SP, Government Canyon SNA, Guadalupe River SP, Lockhart SP, Longhorn Cavern SP, and Palmetto SP.

Repeat parks: These parks will fall under the previous two but I will do new trails.

Caprock Canyon SP, Cleburne SP, Colorado Bend SP, Dinosaur Valley SP, Enchanted Rock SNA, Garner SP, Hill County SNA, Inks Lake SP, Lost Maples SP, Palo Duro SP, and Pedernales Falls SP.

I also have plans to go to Texas’ suburb states of Oklahoma and Arkansas again. Plus  there are local hiking trails I would like to visit and I got a good list from 52 Hike Mike.

See you on the trails.

2017 My Top 10 Places Hiked

My last blog of the year is a review of the best places I have hiked this year. I was going to do a list of top ten hikes but I could not narrow it down to a good twenty. Plus the order would change as I was thinking about which hike should be placed on the list. I decided on places because it was easier but not easy. The top ten was not too difficult but the order was very hard. I did about 60 hikes this calendar year and they were spread out the entire twelve months. I had to compare the recent fresh in my mind place with a place that was hiked ten to eleven months ago. The ten places I have chosen, I have or will hike multiple times. Two places I have hiked but not blogged about yet. The ten places cover three states, a national park and a wildlife refuge.

10. Cedar Ridge Preserve-Minutes away from home and is one of the most scenic areas in Dallas County. hike2220171124_121348.jpg

9. Hot Springs National Park-This quaint cozy park has some great views. 20171112_103833.jpg20171112_103709.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park-The Texas hill country is all over this list.20170406_131314.jpg20170122_130731.jpg

7. Pinnacle Mountain State Park-The second Arkansas park and a summit hike.20171111_141701.jpg20171111_082716.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA-The park is more than The Rock. Hidden gems everywhere.20170406_092524.jpg20170122_102656.jpg

5. Lost Maples SNA-A nature made amphitheater with great trees, waterfalls and views.20170711_182026.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge-This place has everything. Summits and waterfalls.20171208_162255.jpg20171001_111717.jpg

3. Caprock Canyon State Park-Home of the official bison herd of Texas. Plus canyon views.20171220_124508.jpg20171220_122602.jpg

2. Colorado Bend State Park-Gorman Falls is amazing but that is just the start.20170405_143431.jpg20170405_134311.jpg

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park-The second largest canyon in the USA.20171220_082257.jpg20171219_144321.jpg

These top ten places that I have hiked in 2017 maed this a memorable and fantastic year. Next year I hope to have a totally different list of places.

Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Run

The race takes place at the Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels, Tx which is about twenty minutes north of San Antonio. The race is touted as the only trail race in the world to start in a cave. The caverns are the largest series of caverns in the state of Texas. The race is a Redemption Race Production and they mostly do triathlons but also a few trail runs. We did the 5K with sights of moving up distances later in the year. Since they start the race below ground they had several corrals and also a staggered start. My biggest problem with corrals is that people lie or they do not know there trail mile pace. My son went to the first corral which was the seven to nine minute pace runners. I passed a few of the people in that corral. I went to the front of the eleven to thirteen minute per mile corral. I had too many walkers in my corral, I am not fast but I have a sense of competition. I want to run the the best time I can possibly run without being caught behind walkers. This is not a usual problem with trail runs but roadrunners are notorious for this. The course was odd but very cool. Starting in a cavern was visually impressive. I liked the staggered start because it gives you time take in the sights and spreads out the different paces. The odd part of the course was it was uphill for two miles of the three point one miles. Starting under ground I understand that you must climb uphill just to get to the surface but once you hit sun light you run up another hill. The course flattens a bit then another long hill. The last mile is all downhill. The course was not technical and was on jeep trail and gravel. There was not many turns and it was a simple course. Dade won his age group and was the third overall male. I was fifth in my age group with a time of 37:55. I was surprised at my relatively fast time and I felt good running. My road running time for a 5K at the time was right around 30 flat. The after party was nice also. We had breakfast sausage tacos and cookies and chips. The shirt and medal were nice also. The finishing medal was unique geode slice.20170205_082356.jpg20170205_082406.jpgDade in the cave.jpg20170205_082507.jpgDade braceless.jpgStill uphill.jpgSmiling in the cave.jpg20170205_095127.jpgDade award.jpg

I really enjoyed this 5K. It was a really fun event and a must do again. I would like to see what the longer courses look like because they are suppose to be more technical with another crazy hill thrown in.

The next trail race was in west Texas. This is also a place I got to do some hiking before the race. I got to do this four times this year so far.

2017 Top Ten Hikes

This list will consist of only hikes I have done this year. I will also bore followers with an all time list at the end of the year because I have one more trip planned this year. Next year I will be doing less hiking and more trail running trying to move up to the 20K and 25K distances at some time next year. This year was my most active year hiking ever. I have hiked over twenty state parks and a handful of other parks. I really want to finish the 52 Hike Challenge within the year and I am on pace to finish early. I have completed 48 hikes this year and I have two months to get four more hikes done. The majority of my hikes have been in Texas but I did get into Oklahoma for a weekend of hiking. I had adventures in the high hills of central Texas. I was blessed to see all different parts of Texas from the piney woods to the hill country and also the west Texas desert and the great plains. I had a difficult time narrowing it down to ten hikes and it might change depending on the day but here it goes:

10. Tyler State Park, Whispering Pines Trail-This really short trail was visually electric.20170222_102938_001.jpg

9. Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Penitentiary Hollow-Not really a trail but it a rock climbers paradise with bouldering and lake views mixed in.20170304_135240.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park, Pedernales Falls Trail System-it is as long as you want it be but you must go down to the falls for a spectacular view of the water.20170122_133632.jpg

7. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Kite Trail-bouldering over mini waterfalls, what more can I say.20170930_173833.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA, Summit Trail-I felt very accomplished summiting The Rock.20170406_095152.jpg

5. Inks Lake State Park, Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail/Valley Spring Creek Trail-This combination of trails is the hidden gem of Texas.20170405_183904.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Little Baldy Mountain Trail-Another summit but this one combined hiking and rock climbing.20170930_183728.jpg

3. Lost Maples SNA, East-West Trail/East Trail-one of the toughest uphill hikes I had before #2 on this list but worth every step.20170711_180348.jpg

2. Hill Country SNA, Merrick Mile Trail/West Peak Overlook Trail-this was a great hike with better views. I later found out of a similar hike with even better views, need to see to believe. 20170712_092155.jpg

  1. Colorado Bend State Park, Gorman Falls Trail-I was just so amazed at these falls.20170405_143220.jpg So there is the 2017 top ten as of today. I could have easily expanded to a top twenty. I have enjoyed my hikes this year so far and am looking forward to my next set of hikes and hopefully they can crack this list.

The blog will be about trail running. The trail runs and hikes have gone hand in hand on many occasions. I like going to trail races just to hike the park at times.

Lost Maples SNA Part 2

This visit to Lost Maples SNA was not planned. I had the whole family with me and we were going to spend the day at Garner SP but when we got there it was full and would not reopen till later in the day. I had big plans for Garner SP that day but the derailment did not discourage me so we went to Lost Maples SNA. This time I drove on scenic highway 377. The speed limit is 15 miles per hour for a reason. The road has a real Colorado Rocky Mountain feel to it but with guard rails. Steep cliffs are on both sides of the road and the inclines and declines freak me out. I usual have my wife behind the wheel for drives like this but this was an unpleasant surprise for me. Now if you like some of the most special views of the Texas hill country this is the road for you. The views were amazing when I dared to take my eyes off the road. It was a truly incredible drive but I just rather have two feet on the ground.

The good and bad of having the entire family is that we hike at a much slower pace but with the slower pace I can take in what I possibly missed the first time. This was a shorter hike on the East-West Trail and it was flat trail hiking only. I did get to get a better view of the second set of twin waterfalls. 20170712_151218.jpg20170712_151652.jpg20170712_154619.jpg20170712_155505.jpg20170712_160924.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

I also like some of the signs in the state parks in which I find humorous. Some are suppose to funny like the bigfoot crossing sign in Dinosaur Valley SP. Some are informative like the alligator signs in Huntsville SP. The ones I like the most are the obvious ones like getting to close to the edge is dangerous and there is a cliff behind the sign or this where the trail ends sign and there is nothing behind the sign.20170712_160202.jpg20170712_145257.jpg

I was thankful for the warnings but got a laugh out of both the signs. I did do the steep and rugged mile and a half hike the first time. The sign is very accurate and it was a tough hike and then some.

The next blog will about a park back up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area sort of.