Return to Cleburne State Park

I have finally returned to Cleburne SP.  I enjoyed my first visit in which I hiked with my son. We hiked all around the waterfall.  It was flowing pretty good the day we went.  I had plans to go back several times after some heavy rains to see the waterfall at full power.  I never made it back at those times. I went back this time and we are in a moderate drought. The waterfall was dried up but the hiking was still good. I wanted to see some other parts of the park.  The parts of Cedar Lake I saw were very clear. I was surprised of how clear the water was in the lake.  The other parts of the part had a west Texas desert feel. There were cacti and shrubs. The ground was white shale dry ground.  There was some good elevation changes and an overlook that was at ground level.  I still have one more part of the park I have not hiked yet.20180611_153549.jpg20180611_155008.jpg20180611_155543.jpg20180611_161102.jpg20180611_161821.jpg20180611_172413.jpg

It was a good hike on a hot and dry day.  I do want to get back to the park during a time when the waterfall is at full blast.

Cross Country Run 5M

I really enjoy the races the Waco Striders host at Cameron Park. This is the easier of the two courses they have at Cameron Park. I must say easy is a relative term. The two courses are some of the toughest courses I have run in Texas. But I have not run in the Texas mountains yet. The thing that makes these courses tough is that you are always ascending or descending. There are very few flat areas and the downhills are technical. The course is not one of the more scenic courses but there is a nice view of the Brazos River before you descend to the finish. I was prepared for the extra mileage they always put in the races. This time it was only an extra half mile. The odd thing is that they did not have bananas for the runners. They had the usual water but then popsicles and donuts. 34074315_10155323166195894_3946207765357133824_o.jpg34017793_10155320002360894_1196142391866687488_o.jpg

I really like that this year they have wooden medals and soft thin cotton shirts. I do not like the tech shirts or the under armour type shirts. Overall it was a good time and good race.

REI Mudbug Run 10K

I have no idea why I signed up for this run. Maybe because it was close, cheap and flat. I have never been to the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center but wanted to see what it had to offer. The wetlands are located in Seagoville, TX which is about twenty minutes southeast of Dallas. The wetlands were really nice. I was expecting to see alligators. The morning of the race was hot and very very humid. It had rain most of the night before and the course was muddy. As advertised the course was flat but at the end there was a long hill to the finish. The only good thing about the uphill finish was I got a chance to get all the mub off of my shoes before the finish. The hill was grassy unlike the dirt and mud of the lower part of the course. The course was 6.6 miles long which is a long 10K but nothing out of the ordinary for most trail runs. I like the added distance of most trail races. My time of 1:13:25 was very good for me. I was averaging about 11 minute miles. I was hoping for a sub 1:05 but running with all that mud on my shoes wore out my legs legs. I was ahead of pace the first half of the run but the next three miles slugging through mud wore me down.20180505_072045.jpg20180505_072519.jpg20180505_073554.jpg20180505_075301.jpg

I liked the course and the people were great. I was a no frills race but still had some good swag in the bag. I think on a dry course it would be a course I could possibly PR.

Next up back to Waco for some hills.

Emma Long Metro Park

On the outskirts of northwest Austin, Emma Long Metro Park is a nice getaway from the city. I got there early and there was only one other person at the park. I liked the fact it was peaceful and secluded but still near the city. The main trail is 2.8 miles long but there are offshoot trails. I added about two extra miles of fun trails. The interesting thing about the main trail is that is does not run along side of the creek but crosses it several times. The trail is marked well but I still got lost twice. I blame it on the creek crossings. The trail has some elevation gains and a overlook but the creek was my favorite part. The water in most parts was crystal clear. I also like nearing waterfalls no matter how big or small. The park has several different terrains that kept the hike interesting. I was always hiking further on the offshoot trails to see what else was in the park. There was an interesting flat open area with some rock stacking. This is also a very dog friendly park. On my way out, there were more dogs than people on the trail. 20180523_083348.jpg20180523_084457.jpg20180523_094515.jpgDSC01067.JPGDSC01094.JPGDSC01099.JPG

This was a fun hike. It is another part of Austin that is very nice and scenic. This was also hike 32 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next was a flat and fastish 10K.

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.

Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park has been a park I have wanted to visit for at least two years. The other Arkansas state parks I have visited have been convenience parks. I say that in hindsight because those other parks would have been destination parks if I knew more about them. Petit Jean is located north west of Little Rock but closer to Little Rock than both Mount Magazine and Nebo but farther than Pinnacle Mountain. The drive to Petit Jean was another scenic drive with beautiful views. I would be crazy not to mention how green everything is at this time of year. Petit Jean did not disappoint when it came to all the hype I gave it before I arrived. The waterfall was flowing and the view behind Mather Lodge was spectacular. The hike on Cedar Falls Trail was strenuous to say the least. The hike was worth it, though. The hike was different than the other mountain parks. The hike had a more woodland forest feel. The park was in bear country and it really looked like a place where plenty of bears would be found. Ironically, I also hike a trail called Bear Cave. I was continually going all around the trail trying to get good pictures and ended up getting an extra half mile of hiking. I was also lucky enough to get there very early and I was one of two people on the trail.

Cedar Falls Trail took me down into a valley and at the end of the trail was Cedar Falls. Cedar Falls is a 95 foot straight down waterfall. This is the highest waterfall I have seen on my travels. It had not rained in a long time but the waterfall was still flowing pretty good. I then decided after making a very steep uphill climb out of the valley to do one more short trail. Bear Cave Trail was close and short so I decided to give it a hike. It had some very nice rock formations and views at the end of the trail. It was a great morning of hiking.20180513_073922.jpg20180513_081331.jpg20180513_075758.jpg20180513_084431.jpg20180513_090230.jpgDSC00990.JPG

I will definitely be returning to Arkansas to see the other parts of the parks I missed and to go to some new parks I need to see. This was hike 30 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next hikes are back in Texas. Austin here I come.

Wild Canyon Ultra 10K/Hike?

I am trying to decide if this goes down as a trail run or speed hike. On trail runs, I usually get pre and post run pictures. On hikes, I get pictures all during the hike. This was a registered race but I got no pre or post race pictures and took twenty plus pictures on the second half of the course. The views were so amazing and it was an out and back course so I had a chance to get pictures without missing more scenery. It is a win win for me however I see it because I had another chance to be in the great outdoors.

The race was held at Caprock Canyon State Park. It is one of my favorites. The last time I was here, the skies were clear and the temperature was rising. Just the opposite this time. The temperatures were falling and the rain and storms were on there way. The race started in the fog was that way my entire run. The course held up well while I was running. There were some muddy spots but not too bad. The course started at a high point in the park and we ran down into a valley than back up to a high point and that was the halfway point. I knew it was going to be a rough and muddy uphill finish. I was not worried about my time. I was racing the rain. I saw lightning the the thunder rumbled. I knew the rain was close behind. I finished in a decent time for the course 1:19:42. My first top half finish in a 10K. 20180421_084344.jpg20180421_084349.jpg20180421_091122.jpg20180421_091417.jpg20180421_0913241.jpg20180421_084738.jpg

The rain held off until I finished. It starting pouring down rain three minutes after I was done. West Texas storms are crazy. The rain drops are bigger, the lightning is brighter and the thunder is louder. Did I forget the hail is faster. I am glad I did the 10K instead of the 25K. I would have been miserable running in that down pour with hail. Plus cloud to ground lightning bolts are nice to see from a distance inside but not close by and outside.

This will go down as hike 27 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series due to the picture taking during the run/hike.