Another Top Ten List:Most Difficult Races of 2018

I have been asked the same question over and over again lately. What has been your favorite race so far in 2018? I was thinking that this list is going to be the same as my most difficult races of the year. The list is the same except for one race. The most difficult race did not make my favorite race list. I decided to do the most difficult list and wait on my favorite list. So far this year I have done every race distance I have wanted to do except one. My 50K is this weekend and then I have a couple more races planned to end the year with 25 races. I have done a 5K, 5 miler/8K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K and a 1/2 Marathon all on trails. I have done races in freezing weather and snow. I have done races in unbearable heat and humidity and pouring rain. The views from some of these courses have been absolutely breathtaking. All the races and training has been leading up to this weekend’s 50K. The following 10 races as difficult as they were are going to make this weekend easier but not easy.

10. The Wild Canyon Ultra 10K in Caprock Canyon State Park-The rain made the course wet and slick. The course was hilly and rugged but manageable to run. The views were by far the most impressive.20181114_123511.jpg

9. Rugged and Raw 10K at the Cedar Ridge Preserve-The preserve is my training ground and I am there about 3 times a week. A race here is just different. The trails are difficult on a normal day but this was a particularly warm and humid day. 20181114_124531.jpg

8. Rough Creek 10K at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, TX-This race is well known for the Rusty Crown. It is a torcherous uphill that is a definite leg killer. If that is not bad enough a steep downhill that tends to sends running crashing to the ground. 20181114_125300.jpg

7. Down N Dirty 8K at Cameron Park-I ran this race last year not knowing how hilly the course was going to be. I was not surprised this year and it still kicked my butt. The last climb after the 5 mile mark is the one that gets me.20181114_130102.jpg

6. Cross Timbers 5 Miler off of Lake Texoma-The rain made this course a muddy mess. This is one of the more technical courses but with the pouring rain it was down right impossible to run. The views were nice when the sun finally came out but it was a beatdown of a race.20181114_131043.jpg

5. DanMan 1/2 Marathon in Oklahoma-I wanted to get this distance done this year and nothing was going to stop me. I ran in freezing temperatures, rain, snow and mud. I finished and was ten minutes ahead of my predicted time. The course was not too tough but the elements made it a doozy. I only got half of the elevation profile.20181114_131951.jpg

4. Ragnar Trail Relay in Comfort, TX-The three courses were difficult but once again rain was what made this a difficult race. The 7.5 and 3 mile courses were not too bad but the 5 mile course was treacherous. It was by far the most technical and I had to run it night with bad lighting. 20181114_132702.jpg

3. Chupacabra 15K at Cameron Park-This is another race at Cameron Park but the start/finish is at the bottom. The course is relentless. It is always going up or down or a switchback. There is not a straight or level part on the entire course. It slowly wears a runner down.20181114_133339.jpg

2. Mount Magazine in Arkansas-They lure you in with a free race then you realize it is a trap. The heat and humidity were way too high for that early in the morning. The course was probably the most beautiful and dangerous. The cliffs are unforgiving and the climbs last for miles.20181114_134207.jpg

  1. Pineywoods Ultra 25K at Tyler State Park-I did not think I was going to finish this race. Another rain soaked race with high humidity and muddy trails. The distance was the longest race to date but I fell apart well before the finish. My legs gave out and I finished, barely. The race was not that technical or difficult but it was just one of those races where nothing went right.20181114_135316.jpg

The biggest factor in making these races difficult besides the elevation changes was the the muddy courses and high humid temperatures. The good thing is that these races make me prepared for anything. I like the weather prediction for the 50K. It is supposed to be sunny and dry with a temperature range between 46 and 62.  Hopefully the 50K will not make this list but the list of one my favorite races of the year.

See ya on the trails.

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.

Lake Brownwood State Park

Lake Brownwood State Park is located in Brownwood, TX which is about three hours south west of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. I was looking forward to this park for no particular reason. It was good park to hike. The trails had a bunch of elevation change. There were some narrow trails surrounded high rock formations. The were some beach views but I did not do a lake trail hike. The views of the lake were interesting from the different angles and cliff edges. The day was hot and very sunny. I appreciate blue sky hikes. The contrasting blues coming together on the water and in the sky. I ended up getting close to three miles of good trail hiking. DSC01227.JPGDSC01224.JPGDSC01216.JPGDSC01208.JPGDSC01206.JPG

This was hike 36 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I had a good time on this hike. The people I met on this hike were great. The next hike was at a park that I have run more than hiked. I will finally hike the other part of the park.

Abilene State Park

The main reason I went to this park was to sleep in a yurt. I got a few more surprises. The park is located about 20 minutes south of Abilene. This is a CCC park but I only saw one CCC structure. I did not see the pavilion which is the main CCC attraction. My first surprise was when I was driving my Jeep doing jeep things I was hit by a tree. No worries the tree was not hurt. My Jeep on the other hand did not fair so well.20180817_175252.jpgIt is much worse than it looks in my eyes. The trails were mainly flat and the small pond was not very attractive. A tree was down and blocking a trail so I had to double back. This lead me to surprise number two. I got a great picture of a deer. It just stood there looking at me. They usually run and never get a good picture but this guy wanted his picture taken.20180817_192047.jpgI thought the park would be much more picturesque. Driving to the park from all different directions there are nice views all around the park. I might just have missed to good parts. I did like the red river flowing through the park and the vultures on the water tower. The third surprise was a hog rooting was too close to me. I paused it looked up and snorted. I truly thought I was in huge danger. I have always heard these wild hogs were aggressive and fast. The hog looked about 400 pounds. I was lucky that the hog ran the other way very fast. It was a scary situation.20180817_175603.jpg20180817_193809.jpgDSC01187.JPGDSC01191.JPGDSC01189.JPG

The yurt was nice but that was about it. My west Texas trip is halfway over. Two more state parks to visit. I am excited about the next two. This was hike 35 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next up a lake park in the middle of nowhere.

Lake Colorado City State Park

The park is located in Colorado City, Texas which is between Abilene and Midland. I really like the west Texas and Panhandle parks of Texas. This park was going to be a throw in park but turned out to be the highlight of the weekend. I did not get a trail map at the entrance but the trail was very easy to follow. The main problem is that I hiked a trail I did not want to hike. The only other park trail is the trail I was planning on hiking. Even with that mistake, the hike was great. The Cactus Trail was an one mile out and back. I of course turned it into a 2.5 mile scenic adventure. The trail was appropriately named. There were beautiful cacti lined up all around the trail. The trail had the rock desert feel of west Texas and a great view of the lake. The rock formations were nice and made the hike more interesting.  20180817_143059.jpg20180817_143104.jpgDSC01122.JPGDSC01145.JPGDSC01133.JPGDSC01164.JPGDSC01153.JPG

This was hike 34 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was an enjoyable experience but I wish I remembered the other trail. I think next time I will sleep at this park as a hub to venture to some further west parks. The hike ranks fairly high on my favorite list.

Next up my yurt stay in Abilene.

Reflective Pictures

I should be ready to travel in two weeks. In the meantime here are some photos of all of my years of hiking.

IMG_0059.jpgHawaii

IMG_1364.JPGRocky Mountain National Park

IMG00363-20110624-2024.jpgColorado

2011-06-21_07-44-11_464.jpgRoosevelt National Forest

20170405_143341.jpgGorman Falls, Colorado Bend State Park

20171219_144321.jpgPalo Duro Canyon

20171209_085645.jpgElk Mountain, Wichita  Mountains Wildlife Refuge

20171111_141337.jpgPinnacle Mountain, Arkansas

DSC00384.JPGLittle Niagara Falls, Chickasaw National Recreation Area

20180513_075431.jpgPetit Jean State Park, Arkansas

20161124_083530.jpgCedar Ridge Preserve, Dallas, Texas

Just a few pictures I have taken on my journeys. I am hoping to get thousands of more pictures of new and old places. I want to visit more states and parks. Plus discover more local hiking spots. The next blog should be one of those new places so hang on for another ride.

 

Best Hikes of 2018 So Far

My last blog and this blog have both been rehash blogs for a good reason. I had plans to visit several west Texas state parks this summer but I have sustained an injury that is aggravated when sitting for a long time. My travel has been limited to just about nowhere. Hopefully, I will be back at 100% by August. I have gotten in a bunch of hikes this year so I will list the best.

10. Quanah Hill-This is a cool little park located in Weatherford, TX. Nice trails with lots of elevation change and clean.DSC00261.JPG

9. Eagle Mountain Park-Located on the northwest side of Fort Worth. This park is just a nice nature park to hike.DSC00033.JPG

8. Eisenhower State Park-A surprisingly good trail system at a park located in Denison, TX. The beaches and cliffs were great.DSC00283.JPG

7. Mount Nebo SP-Located in Dardanelle, AR, this was a surprisingly neat park. The summit trail around the top is a must.20180511_181132.jpg

6. Chickasaw National Recreational Area-Located in Sulphur, OK, this park is all about waterfalls. I love me some waterfalls.DSC00384.JPG

5. Bastrop SP-Located in Bastrop, TX, this was a park I have wanted to go to for a longtime. Although it was foggy he park did not disappoint.DSC00668.JPG

4. Petit Jean SP-Located in Morrilton, AR, this was another must see park for me that lived up to all the hype.20180513_075502.jpg

3. Enchanted Rock SP-I returned to this park for the third time. I got to finish the park and it was as good as the first two trips.DSC00568.JPG

2. Caprock Canyon SP-My second visit to this park located in Quitaque, TX. Even fog could not ruin the colors of this beautiful canyon.20180421_090844.jpg

1. Mount Magazine SP-This state park has the highest point in Arkansas as its peak. Located in Paris, AR, it has some great cliff views.20180512_092318.jpg

This was a hard list to create and I think I left off a good hikes at Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin and Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. I have at least five never been before hikes planned in the fall so this list might change by the end of the year.