Garner State Park Old Baldy Trail

The first time I was Garner State Park I did not get a chance to hike this trail.  I have hiked some pretty tough trails in the Texas hill country but this one was one of the toughest.  It is only about a half mile to the top but it is a 300 foot incline the entire way.  You get little to no break the entire hike.  It is not too long but on average you get 600 feet of elevation gain per mile.  For reference, to hike to Guadalupe Peak, highest point in Texas, you would get 375 feet of elevation gain per mile.  It is steep.  The trail is partially single track plus some bouldering and loose gravel.  I loved the trail and got the pictures that I wanted.  I once again hiked midweek but I decided to start early trying to get multiple hikes at the park.  The top already had several people up there relaxing and taking pictures.  I met some nice people on the way up and they were going to some hidden caves in the park.  I did not have time to go but I have taken a mental map for the location.  20190708_085743.jpgView from the top20190708_090047.jpgAnother view from the top, the water is so clear you can see the bottom of the river20190708_090326.jpgTrail near the top20190708_085558.jpgHalfway there and feeling the burn20190708_084413.jpgAt the beginning20190708_092004.jpgWhat a way to start

I cannot wait to get back and finish some other trails at Garner State Park.

Lost Maples SNA East Trail

I am still on my running break and I am getting to hike places I want to revisit.  I was here two years ago and loved it.  I have not had a chance to get back till now.  I wanted to do the East Trail because I missed it the last time.  The trail also has two landmarks that the park features.  I wanted to see Monkey Rock and the Grotto.  Plus I love the view from the top of the park and the waterfalls.  The park offers a view of the Milky Way due to the dark sky and lack of light pollution.  I wanted to get a view of the Milky Way and I did but no pictures.  I tried to get a few but phone cameras are not meant for this type of photography.

The day was very hot but not as humid as it has been lately.  I got a good 5 plus miles with over 1200 feet of elevation change.  It was a midday midweek hike so not many people on the trail.  I saw most of the people in the first and last mile.  I was lucky that nobody was up on top of mountain.  The views were awesome like last time but greener.  The rain has kept the trees greener for a longer time.  The hike was just as difficult as last time even though I went counter clockwise this time.  20190707_164205.jpgMonkey Rock20190707_170029.jpgThe Grotto20190707_170712.jpgAlmost to the top20190707_174041.jpgMade it to the top20190707_174712.jpgMust have picture20190707_180323.jpgBest picture of the day20190707_181510.jpgWaterfall

I had a really good time and I still need to do the West trail.

 

Spicewood Springs Colorado Bend State Park

I got back to Colorado Bend State Park and it was much overdue.  I hiked the Spicewood Springs area of the park.  I hiked down Spicewood Springs and up Spicewood Canyon trails and it was five miles of leg busting beauty.  My first trip I did Gorman Falls and that area but I wanted to do the other side of the park this time.

It was the usual hot and humid Texas summer weather.  I got to hike it with little to people because I was out there midweek and midday.  I can say I did not get lost but just misdirected two or three times.  Hiking these trails counter clockwise was not a good idea.  I hit all the steep hills on the back half of the hike and the gradual downhills at the beginning.

I wanted to do this section for the waterfalls and the crystal clear pools of water and it did not disappoint.  The views were breathtaking and it is hard to put in words all the combinations of sights and sounds.  20190628_101624.jpgA view from the top of the first big waterfall20190628_102138.jpgClear water pool from the waterfall20190628_104001.jpgOver the ledge view of another waterfall and clear water20190628_104347.jpgTwin waterfall20190628_104444.jpgAnother set of twin waterfalls and more clear water20190628_104720.jpgClear swimming hole 20190628_110209.jpgFinal view from the top

The Texas Hill country is the place to be this summer.

Revisiting an old post

 

Miscellaneous Hiking Post with a List

In this post there is a 15 before 50 list, I am happy to write I am done with almost half of what I listed.  I am surprised that I have done as many as I have done.  I focused more on trail running than hiking the last two years but still do some hiking in between races.  I am not going to change my list but will recap my progress.

Finished:

4. I hiked to the summit of Elk Mountain on my father’s birthday.20171209_090924

5. I actually hiked to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain twice and the second time was a great solo hike.IMG_0934

7. I had an amazing hike to Cedar Falls in Petit Jean SP. The waterfall was everything I had hoped to see.20180513_075758

8. Canyon Loop Trail in Caprock Canyon SP was awesome and dangerous due to the quick temperature rise.20171220_124508

9. I am counting hiking the Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro SP even though it was cut off.  I hiked all of it that was open.20171220_085511

14. I found Twin Falls in Pedernales SP last week. It was a fun short hike.20190627_155638

15. The Moss Lake and Echo Canyon trail hikes were fascinating and one a my many times I got lost hikes.DSC00598

Not yets:

2. and 3. I had it planned for this summer but my schedule is getting crazy.

6. Mountain Top trail has not been in my plans. I will look to get this one in early next year.

11. and 12. Hiking Old Baldy and Crystal Cave Trail are in the plans for summer of 2020 because this might be a family trip.

13. My East Trail hike is planned this week. I will be heading to Lost Maples SNA and another state park in the San Antonio area.

As for #1, I had a chance to do Mount Scott hike today. I have also had two previous chances but did other hikes.  I am thinking about a day trip to get it done. I also want to do it as an overnight trip for the stargazing

 

 

Pedernales Falls SP Pedernales Falls Trail

I am back at Pedernales Falls Trail and this time I went further upstream.  Just to get this out of the way, I got lost on the way back and had to follow the horse trail to the main road.  I used a compass to go in the right direction and from the main road I hiked back to the parking lot and trailhead.

The falls were flowing with more intensity than the last time I was here.  I decided to go to the obvious picturesque spots then headed up the river.  I was happy that there were few people out today and got all the pictures I wanted.  It was a midday day middle of the week hike so I did not expect to see many people.  As most know I love waterfalls and I just kept following them further up the river.  I would have kept going but the sound of thunder and a cool breeze with darkened clouds cut my hike short.  It did not rain but this area is prone to flash floods and the river rises fast.  I did get to parts of the park I had been to before and it was a great hike.  The park gets better every time I am here and it did not disappoint.  20190627_170801.jpgMy favorite picture of the day20190627_171544.jpgFour armadillos20190627_172334.jpgTrying out new settings on my camera phone20190627_172817.jpgMy favorite beach spot20190627_180044.jpgSky was changing20190627_180744.jpgClear water and darkening clouds

I have one more day in the Texas hill country before returning home. I visit another park I have to but a different park.

Hidden Hills Half Marathon

The race was amazing.  The race was held at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.  The state park is not open yet but the runners got a sneak peek of what the future of the trails might look like at the park.  The park is located in Strawn, TX which is about an hour and a half west of the DFW metroplex.  The hill country of Texas makes up most of central Texas and this area in the northwest part is beautiful.  It has the hills and flowers and some great views.

The race offered distances ranging from 5K all the way up to a 50 miler.  I chose the half marathon because I am starting to like this distance.  It is long enough to feel like hard work but short enough to recover fairly quick.  The half marathon course consisted of two out and backs over a changing terrain.  The trails held up well from the rain overnight.  They were wet and had some muddy spots but overall in good shape.

The first out and back was a feeling out process and not difficult.  The course started with two small but steep uphills. The first major climb came after a water crossing.  The water crossing was not too deep so I rock jumped to keep my feet dry.  The top of the climb had great views but I could not get good pictures because of the weather.  It was cloudy and very very humid.  It was smoove sailing down the hill to an area filled with wildflowers.  The trail went into a forest type area in which the trail turned a bit muddy.  After the muddy section was the turn around point of the race.  I decided to get most of my pictures on the way back.  I was feeling good and I wanted to get the picture before the second out and back.  I got to the start/finish ahead of my three hour half marathon pace.

I started the second out and back drenched in sweat.  My shirt and shorts were soaking wet.  My shirt was feeling heavy and my shorts were clinging to my legs.  My nutrition and hydration was still good but my clothes were an added weight.  I had to tuck in my shirt to keep my shorts from falling down.  The water crossing was a bit deeper but crossable without getting too wet.  At the top of the climb the temperature dropped at least ten degrees.  The sky got darker and thicker clouds came rolling over the course.  I made it almost to the muddy part when it started to rain on and off.  I got to the turn around and the sky opened up.  It started to rain consistently.  The thunder and lightning started after I was out of the now swamp like muddy section.  I could see lightning bolts go from cloud to ground.  As I started up the backside of the biggest climb it started to pour.  At the top of the climb, it started to hail.  By now the trails were flooded and muddy.  There were mini waterfalls on the big hill.  The water crossing was shin deep.  The rock jumping idea was scrapped and I just ran through the water.  I finished drenched and exhausted.  My time of 3:17:13 was slow but I was happy just to finish.FB_IMG_1558287448257.jpg20190518_082225.jpgFB_IMG_1558287604486.jpgFB_IMG_1558287620636.jpgFB_IMG_1558287611176.jpg20190518_103242.jpg

Overall, I really liked to race but better weather would have made this race great.  I did get to see another Texas state park.  I have week till my next race in this same area.

 

Coyote Run 25K

We finally got some good weather in the DFW area.  The temperatures have been in the 80s with the rain diminishing.  I headed down to Cleburne State Park for another 25K.  My first 25K did not turn out well but I finished.  I can say the same for this 25K.  I have run two 50Ks and some other longer runs since my first 25K so the distance should not have been a problem. The run was actually 17.4 miles so I got a bonus two miles and I did not even get lost.

The shuttle to the race was not a good start.  We were crammed in a cargo van sitting on the floor.  I am tall and not that flexible so the ride was hard on my knees and legs.  After the packet pick up I was ready to go. The run consisted of two loops of what was posted as 8.33 miles a piece.  The first loop could easily break the spirit of a runner not use to the rocky hilly terrain.  The aid stations were place at the start/ finish and the half way point of the loop.  I knew things were bad when right before the first aid station at the first loop when a runner doubled over and stumbled off the trail.  I got to the aid station and sent a volunteer back to check on him.  I later saw him finish his first and only loop.  The course had plenty of short steep hills that were tough and valleys that did not seem to bad.  There was one water crossing that got my feet wet which I do not like and one I jumped over.  I finished the first loop in just over two hours.  I got some runner food at the aid station.  Talked to my sister and got updates on some other runners in the running club I run with.  One runner had already dropped out and another was not looking good trying to finish the 50 miler.

The second loop started with some Tylenol and a salt tablet.  My nutrition was holding up under what was now a sunny hot and humid day.  I got to the first water crossing and my feet did not dry as fast as they did on the first loop.  I got to the midpoint aid station and my feet were hurting but is was not too bad.  I learned a lesson from my previous races and filled my water bladder.  I did this for two reasons.   First, it already had a mix of electrolytes in it and secondly I ran out of water on my last long trail race.  I was feeling fairly good when I got to the second water crossing.  This time I took my time and made sure I could make the jump.  This is the part of the course that is the toughest.  I made it up the first short steep hill but I struggled.  The second steep hill was longer and that did me in.  I could not get back up to speed.  I was just walked and walked.  I could not even run the douwhills due to the technical nature of the trail.  The downhills were also steep with switchbacks, rocks and roots.  For me, the added danger was low hanging branches and leaning trees.  I finally made it to the last climb and it caused me to stop twice.  I was now starting to pass people that looked worse off than me.  I also caught up to a running buddy.  Ahmed and I ended finishing the race together but it was painful.  We now got to the rolling valleys section.  The valleys were not as steep but they seemed ten times more difficult now.  We were able to run down into the valley but getting out got more and more difficult.  We got to the end and wanted to have a fast finish and mistimed our run.  We ran out of gas and had to restart our sprint finish. FB_IMG_1556412667949.jpgThe top of one those fun hills.FB_IMG_1556412757304.jpgThe beauty of the course.FB_IMG_1556412736664.jpgThe tree rock and root section.FB_IMG_1556412708458.jpgThe section before the jump across.FB_IMG_1556892200023.jpgFeeling good on the first loop.received_694717837597810.jpegAhmed and I on our sprint finish.received_668647996925470.jpegWe did it.

I can easily say that was the toughest race I have ever run.  The heat and humidity took a toll on many runners and the DNF percentage was higher than usual.  My toes were bloodied and I broke three toenails.  I survived and had fun.

The rain has closed most of the trails so my Arkansas race is a no go and so is hiking but I have a special blog next.