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.

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park is located in Glen Rose, TX which is an hour south west of Dallas. I have been here five times before for hiking, camping and trail running. The park is so big that I have not hiked or been on the entire park’s trail system. I decided to hike the part of the park I have done a trail race on but never hiked in the area. The inclines were just as hard hiking as they were running. The park has many amazing views and some distinct rock formations. The park borders on the hill country part of Texas. It has many limestone ridges that rise over the Paluxy River. The elevation gains come early and often and are very steep. The dinosaur tracks are always nice to see but I am more interested in the other scenic views. I got to see some very cool rock formations that produce valleys in the middle of the park.20180818_154151.jpgDSC01232.JPG20180818_154158.jpgDSC01247.JPGDSC01241.JPGDSC01257.JPG

This was hike 37 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I really like this state park. This will definitely not be my last visit. I had a great 4 plus mile hike.

My next blog is back on trail running.

Barton Creek Greenbelt

This, unbeknownst to me, is a very popular spot in Austin. The trail is a 15 mile out and back depending on where you start. It could also be a 15 mile loop. I did an out and back section between the Mopac Hwy Trailhead and the Hill of Life Trailhead. The hike was a total of 6.6 miles of overlooks, hills, waterfalls, rock climbing and people lots of people. I got there in the middle of the day and middle of the week hoping people would still be at work. Apparently, people do not work in Austin. I had never seen so many cars at a trailhead before. I walked about a third of a mile before even getting to the trail. The trail itself was very nice. Well groomed with little to no trash. The biggest issue was trying to get pictures without random people in the background. There were two main waterfalls in the section I hiked but they were filled with people so I did not get pictures. I chose the section because of the waterfalls and they were very nice but way too many people. The other section leading to Zilker Park had more of the rock climbing cliffs. I did see some people rock climbing on this section. The highlight of the hike was the climb up the Hill of Life. It was a leg busting experience. It was a long steadily climbing hill that was not too steep but long. 20180522_154659.jpg20180522_154704.jpg20180522_161103.jpg20180522_164827.jpg20180522_173629.jpgDSC01054.JPG

I really like this trail. I will try to get back here and do the Zilker Park section and this section again when there are less people. This was hike 31 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next a park with not many people but a lot of dogs.

Buescher State Park

Buescher State Park is located in Smithville, TX which is about forty minutes east of Austin. The park is a smallish park and besides camping, I do not know the park’s main attraction. The park has no distinct look. It could be in east Texas and not stand out. It could be in north Texas and fit in with the other parks. It even could be a central Texas park and not be out of place. I think that is why this park is kind of special. The trails did not hold up too well because of the rain. They still had spots of thick mud and standing water but other parts were bone dry. The park also is still displaying the damage of its own floods and fires. The park is restoring well just like Bastrop SP. Due to the size I got to hike the entire park during my time in the park. The fog had burned off and the sun was shining. The temperature rose very quick but it was still a nice day. The trails were easy with not too much elevation change. There were some good views and plenty of scenery. DSC00735.JPGDSC00739.JPGDSC00743.JPGDSC00752.JPGDSC00748.JPGDSC00742.JPG

I was surprised that I did not see any wildlife at the park. There were birds but that was it. A nice park for a quick day hike. This was hike 25 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up a park I had never heard of went to a park I could not miss out on.

Bastrop State Park

I have finally made it to Bastrop State Park. I have been to seven Austin area state parks but never had a chance to go to Bastrop State Park. The timing has not made it possible to visit this park. I found a trail race near the park and I was not going to miss my chance to hike Bastrop State Park. The park is located in Bastrop, Texas about thirty minutes east of Austin. The park in recent years has been devastated by floods and fires. The majority of the park was burned down and then a couple of years later flooded and left about half of the park under water. I am visiting the park three years after the last major natural disaster and the park is rebuilding itself. I was told it would take about 80 years for full restoration.

I arrived early in the morning and it was cool and very foggy. I did not think I would get good pictures in this type of fog but I was told to go through with the hike. The person described the park in this fog as “majestic” and “enchanting.” He was spot on. The park was beautiful in the fog. The views were incredible and even though you can still tell that the park had be through natural disasters it still was spectacular. The different tree colors, the red dirt, the elevation changes and the regrowth of smaller plants made this park a must see. The park for me lived up to all of me expectations and more. This park also had some interesting CCC features.20180331_090444.jpgDSC00668.JPGDSC00681.JPGDSC00703.JPGDSC00715.JPGDSC00729.JPG

This was hike 24 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It will definitely go down as one the best and most memorable hike. Of course, I got lost in the fog. It was a good built in excuse. I would have gotten lost on a bright and sunny day. I added an extra mile and a half to the hike and it was well worth it.

The next park was a quick ten minute drive down the road.

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.

Enchanted Rock SNA Part 3

As you may have guessed, I really like this park. Of the four main parks in this region, this is the one I have visited the most. The park is located 15 minutes north of Fredericksburg, TX. The main attraction is Enchanted Rock itself but I hiked to the top of The Rock last visit. I wanted to get to the east side of the park and also go to the lake and pond.

I got to the park before the headquarters open so I did not get a chance to pick up a park map. I had gone through my route several times prior to arrival so I was somewhat confident that I would not need a map. I was wrong and I immediately got lost trying to get from the Summit trail to the Echo Canyon trail. I decided to hike it the opposite direction of my original plan because it seemed less likely that I would get lost. The hike was great and I got to see everything I wanted plus some unexpected great views. I added some additional miles to my hike and of course got lost again. I was blessed to have some people going the same direction as me to help me find my way back to the parking lot. 20180330_074410.jpg20180330_094106.jpgDSC00568.JPGDSC00598.JPG20180330_085925.jpgDSC00580.JPG

I had another great time at Enchanted Rock SNA. I have now seen every part of the park I have wanted to see. The only part of the park I have not hiked is the far eastern part of the park. This was also Hike 21 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This was the first place in this series that I have hiked previously. I have not hiked this part of the park so it was a new experience for me.

I done a couple of trail runs and a few hikes since this hike. I do not know what I will blog next but it will be something outdoorsy.