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.

 

Hiking on Hold but still on the Trails

I have only done about a half dozen hikes this year. I could blame the weather but I have not been away from the trails. I have several big trail runs coming up this month. I have a half marathon and a 50K trail run in a two week period. Also in April and May I have four races on technical terrain each ten plus miles long. I then take a two week break and go into 100K training. I like hiking and if I never started hiking I would not be trail running. I have a great group to run with and I happen to live in an area where I have six great trails within fifteen minutes from home. So here are some pictures of places I am training and people I am training with.nZz3Q4rK0JEuc9eGPUo00Y4jsuuyHwFP6FjWlbN3ZGA-2048x1152.jpgEagle Mountain Park52607936_2159477870742141_4923248044205408256_n.jpgCedar Ridge Preserve22289666_10214717700999924_1406004877095561363_o.jpgNTTR Group when I am up north of the metroplex38392101_10217363826673368_3624816384799670272_n.jpgDDR when I am in my neighborhood43041061_1956246004398663_5133407678831263744_o.jpgTrinity Groves with downtown Dallas in the background.FB_IMG_1529546131471.jpgThe main group of crazies.

The places and the groups make training fun and interesting. I miss my solo hikes but running with a good group of people helps me take my mind off the training. This big guy will be back hiking soon enough.

Trinity Groves Dallas, TX

I like running on all the trails I can find in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Being a trail runner and hiker, for that matter, is that weather sometimes determines how much outdoor time I can enjoy. The rain in 2018 was the second most in the area since they started recording rainfall. The most just happened to be 2015. The rain floods the trails and the they get closed for weeks at a time. I would usually trudge to the gym and get a workout there but I found with the help of my running buddies a great place to get some trail time. Trinity Groves on the west side of downtown Dallas. The trail is crushed gravel and drains really well, so running can be done even on raining days. The light from downtown Dallas keeps the trail lit fairly well, so I can run at night with or without a headlamp. I have been running here regularly but am anxious to get to some less urban trails. The trail is flat and fast but you can add hills when running down into the levee. This part gets flooded when it rains a bunch and the Trinity river rises and covers the lower trail. The is an out and back for the most part but you can run a 16 mile loop, so I heard. I particularly do not like out and back runs but when returning on this trail you get great views of downtown Dallas the entire time. The lights of the city keep the run interesting especially during any event. The buildings in the city will have a light show that correlates to the event. FB_IMG_1539225142284.jpg43098483_1956246097731987_6609849695248318464_o.jpg43053753_1956246164398647_7220257267763904512_o.jpg43110257_1956245897732007_6908378015701401600_o.jpg20181219_182051.jpg

The very distinctive bridge in the background is the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Next up is my first run of the year. I need some revenge at Tyler State Park.

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park was my home base for the east Texas trip. It is about two hours east of Dallas in Mount Pleasant, TX. This park had Christmas decorations at every turn and that made the easy hikes fun. The park had no difficult trails and I was there at an odd day and time so I had the park to myself. The hikes were very peaceful. The sunset was magnificent turning the sky blue and pink. I also got to hike around in the dark and see the Christmas displays lit up. This is what I expected all east Texas parks to look like but of course they all are different. The bonus was seeing dozens of deer and a mini waterfall.20181217_162914.jpg20181217_170118.jpgDSC01414.JPGDSC01431.JPGDSC01438.JPG20181217_203617.jpgDSC01411.JPG

This was hike 47 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet and the Christmas decorations at this park.

Next day is the same park but different trails and a different point of view.

Mount Nebo State Park

This is my third trip back to Arkansas and it was awesome. My first stop was at Mount Nebo State Park. The park is located in Dardanelle, AR which is northwest of Little Rock. The first thing about this park that caught my attention was how steep the road is to get into the park. Hwy 155 is a notable road that is known in the area but not to me. It has several switchbacks but the steepness is what really stood out. I also did not have this park as a must visit park. I was in the area so I decided to check it out. I made the right decision.

I got a map and hiked the Rim Trail. The trail had plenty of great views. I also did a little venture on the Gum Springs Trail. The two of many highlights on the trail were Sunset Point and Lover’s Leap. The views from these overlooks were absolutely spectacular. The other overlooks were great but these two stuck out most for me. The hike was not difficult but scary at times. I was on a thin trail with a cliff on one side and a mountain wall on the other. Plus the thermals on the east side of the mountain were blowing. It was tough to keep balance and fight the wind. I got to see eagles use the thermals to dive and rise through the air. Watching the birds use the thermals was another highlight. 20180511_194340.jpg20180511_185024.jpg20180511_181132.jpgDSC00911.JPGDSC00951.JPGDSC00966.JPG

This was the beginning of an amazing three day trip in Arkansas. I was not too surprised of the beauty of the state parks. I liked seeing a different part of the state. This was also hike 28 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.  The start of these 52 hikes have been amazing so far.

Next up is another Arkansas mountain.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Day 1

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located in the Panhandle Region of Texas. It is about thirty minutes south of Amarillo. The Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States and is a gorgeous sight to see. I loved this place the minute I stepped out of the car. I have never seen anything like this in my life. I love that it has been a year of going to Texas state parks and I can still say I am seeing things that I have never seen previously. We have wanted to go here before as a family but the cabins have always been booked. I finally got a cabin at the park and I could not pass it up. I booked it and off I went. It had been raining most of the drive to the park but I was lucky that most of the rain was out of the park the day before I got there and it did not rain the day I was there. I was hoping for clear skies and cool weather. I was blessed with both on the two days I was hiking. It was a six hour drive with one stop and some of the drive was boring but other parts were scenic. I like going through the small towns I have heard about through high school sports. I hear about a six man football  powerhouse or a 1A basketball team that is undefeated and then I drive through that city, for me it is pretty cool. OK back to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, I did the CCC Trail on this day. The trail goes around the rim of the north end of the canyon and down to the amphitheater and back. I wanted to get started early but I was delayed getting to my cabin and plus the electricity was out at the cabin. I had a portable charger and a flashlight so that would not be a problem but I was not prepared for temperatures in the teens. I knew the cabin had a heater but with no electricity it was going to be cold. Eventually the power was fixed and I did not freeze. The hike was awesome and seeing all the colors of the canyon was mind blowing.  I was so amazed at the layers of rock and how brilliant the colors projected. 20171219_161533.jpg20171219_144219.jpg20171219_172527.jpg20171219_170708.jpg20171219_170359.jpg20171219_162912.jpg20171219_152414.jpg

Once I saw these pictures I knew I needed a better camera than my phone camera. I have a great camera on my phone but I am not good at taking pictures so I need a better point and shoot camera.

This also hike 4 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. The first three hikes were in my previous blogs on my second trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

My next blog is day two at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Forty Foot Hole Wichita Mountains

I decided on December 1st 2017 to do another 52 Hike Challenge. I completed my first challenge this year in 46 weeks. The challenge I just finished was the Adventure Challenge. The hikes had to include things like waterfalls, sunset/sunrise, group, reflective, bucket list amd others. This challenge will entail 52 different hikes. I did repeat a few hikes last time but this time no repeating. I am also going to try to finish some trails I did not finish last year.

The Forty Foot Hole is located in the Wichita Mountains in Lawton, OK. This is my second visit and I got to finish this trail from the opposite direction. This side of the trail did not have all the waterfalls but had one nice one. The Forty Foot Hole was amazing. I hiked the rim and then hiked along the river. I could not believe how picturesque this place looked at dusk. I wish I had more time here but I was looking for another trailhead in which I did not find until it was dark. I will be back here to do some more hiking.20171208_162030.jpg20171208_160150.jpg20171208_164933.jpg20171208_162255.jpg20171208_173832.jpg20171208_173613.jpg

This was another fun trip. I did not see a buffalo this time but I did see the biggest elk I have ever seen. This place is great and well worth a return trip to finish off some other hikes I want to complete.

My next hike continues in the Wichita Mountains but this time it is a summit hike.