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.

The Art of Getting Lost

I have a gift of getting lost in places where there is no reason of getting lost. I prepare and plan and read maps prior to any adventure. This weekend was the ultimate of being lost multiple times even though I played it about as safe as I could.

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My first safe play was passing on a hike in which I would not finish until sunset. It is not a problem but I would have to drive in the dark with no use of my phone to give me directions. I avoided the danger of getting lost on the roads.

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Now for getting lost. I go to Enchanted Rock SNA early to beat the Easter weekend rush. The problem is that I could not get a trail map. Being overconfident of my navigation abilities and memory, I try to hike my route using my mind. Bad idea, I got lost in ten minutes and ended up where it started. I am a smart guy so I decided to hike my route reverse because I would less likely get lost. My plan worked until the end of the hike. The trail disappeared and I was looking straight down a cliff with a bunch of boulders. I was lucky two nice guys lead me through the boulder field to the parking lot. I got lost and never left the trail. Plus I added an extra mile plus to my hike.

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The next day I took full opportunity to get lost. I should have known this one was coming. It was early morning in a thick fog. I decided in all my infinite wisdom to hike Bastrop State Park. The full write up will be later on Bastrop. I was going to the scenic overlook. The whole park was scenic. The fog was everywhere and I missed my turn and hiked the wrong trail. The trail lead to an overlook but not the one I was looking for on the map. I saw another trail that looked awesome and luckily that was the correct trail and I was lost no more. It added over two miles to a fantastic hike.

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Last day of my lesson of getting lost was epic. I was running a 10K trail race and flying through the course. I was wondering why I was running for about 12 minutes and did not see anyone. I then saw a few runners in the 33K and 66K race. Well crap, I was lost again and this time I paid to do it. I once again never left the trail but I made a huge wrong turn. Three miles later I “found” some volunteers. I ended up doing 10.4 miles for my 10K. Needless to say I came in last.

The funny thing is I had a blast being lost and meeting good people and seeing more than I bargained to see. If you want to get lost and have some fun, just follow me.

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.

The Mammoth 10K

 

The Mammoth 5K was my first trail race last year. I had a great time camping and hiking  at Dinosaur Valley SP and running the race the next morning. I decided not to camp out this year and run the 10K. The course was tough. I knew from last year the course would be difficult but the 10K course was more than twice as hard. The course climbed the steep trail that leads to the summit of the park. I ran this trail at my last race here but that was part of a 5K and the rest of that race was downhill. This time after the hill the race was only a quarter the done. The course then went down and back up to the second highest point in the park. The course seemed longer than 10K but it had some very serene parts. The long scenic parts allowed me to get a steady pace for awhile. My time of 1:32:07 put me in the top half overall but only in the top two thirds of all males. IMG_21571.jpg22791979_723111514560647_1938614310425051603_o.jpgIMG_21591.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpgIMG_21601.jpg

I will be doing the 15K next year. I really like being at this park for both hiking and running. This was also my last trail 10K this year. I have two more trail runs left this year.

My next next race is the final race of the Huaco Cuatro.

Down N Dirty 8K Trail Run

This is the second race in the Huaco Cuatro Race Series. The first was a 5 miler that was actually a 5.7 miler. I was prepared this time for the longer run and the crazy steep hills. The good thing this time is that the race started at the bottom of the park not the top. The logic would seem to be a downhill finish. The race was in Waco so nothing is logical. It was a flat finish after a small hill and a switchback downhill. I finished the run in a lower time than the first race. I like to see my pace but it skewed because it is based on the listed distance. The actual distance of this race was 9.5K. After this race, I felt comfortable I could finish a trail 10K. The course was almost as tough as the first race and was one of the more difficult courses. I truly like both of these runs and the Waco Striders put on another great race. 20170513_075036.jpg20170513_075041.jpg20170513_075046.jpg

This was also the race I began to see improvement in my trail running and actually being competitive at the 5K races. I am still finding my way in the longer distances. I am already getting ready for this race series again next year. I am going to do the longer races next year. These first two races were the longer races but I went with the shorter races for the last two.

Next up is the first of three night trail races. I liked the night races but might not do it again.

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.