Best of 2018 Trails upon Trails

This year I hiked 50 new trails in 45 new places. I was doing the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series which is to hike 52 new places in 12 months. I did not get to 52 new trails but the 50 new trails were worth the travel. I found some local city parks and many state parks. I ventured into two other states besides Texas. I liked the hikes in Arkansas and Oklahoma and already have plans to return to both states. I also had some first in my trail running. I did my first 1/2 Marathon, 20K, 25K and 50K all on trails. 2018 was an awesome year to be outside.

20180522_175637.jpgAustin, TX

DSC01327.JPGTulsa, OK

20180606_190159.jpgDallas, TX

20180512_092220.jpgMount Magazine 20K

20181117_120020.jpgWild Hare 50K

20180511_191554.jpgMount Nebo, Arkansas

DSC00406.JPGChickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.

 

 

Cooper Lake State Park

Cooper Lake State Park is located in Sulphur Springs, TX which is about an hour and fifteen minutes east of Dallas. I will do this blog as a trail run instead of a hike. The trail was set up to hold a trail run and it does every year. After hiking the trail, I got a message from a friend stating he runs a race there every year. I actually have already signed up to run the race. Back to the trail, it is a wide trail. Most hiking trails are single track trails, but this one was a wide trail like jeep trail. The trail was relatively flat and straight. It was a lollipop out and back. It was also very simple to navigate. The only bad thing is that it did not hold up well after the rain. It had not rained in a few days but it was still muddy most of the trail. There were some good views but nothing special and that is good when trail running. I am easily distracted and will stop and take pictures during a trail run. The best part of this hike was all of the wildlife. I saw over a dozen deer and they were even photogenic for once.20181218_113957.jpg20181218_115306.jpgDSC01464.JPGDSC01459.JPGDSC01466.JPG

This was hike 49 of the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was also supposed to be the last hike but I got one more in a fews days later. Completing the hike challenge was difficult due to injury and rain, lots of rain.

Next blog is the last hike then some fun lists blogs and an adventure of a different kind.

Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run 5 Miler

I decided to do a short 5 miler to test out my legs in a trail race. This race takes place at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX.  I have ran here and hiked here many times over the past two years.  This race did not actually start in the park but outside a back gate I did not even knew was there. Even though it was an odd place to start, the race quickly hit a familiar hill that is on every race directors places to have us run.  It was good to get to this particular hill early because it is a leg killer. Since I was only doing a 5 miler, I only had one technical downhill and the rest of the race was fairly easy. I was really surprised at my time. I have been trying to get a sub one hour 5 miler on a technical course and have not come close. I did not break one hour but if I knew how close I was I might have run myself into ground to get the time.  The course was not marked the best but I love running here and I was not going to get lost. I actually won my age group for the first time ever.47214235_2039622916060971_520785078360473600_o.jpgIMG_6298.JPGIMG_6406.JPG

I am going to start training for another tough race next year. I am planning to run a 27K with two miles of elevation change. This is going to be much different than my 50K on a relatively flat course. The 50K had two thirds of a mile of elevation change. I will run hills most of the year to prepare. I am also going to do less races but longer distances with more hills.

Next are my final hikes of the year. East Texas here I come.

Bluff Creek Ranch

Bluff Creek Ranch is a private ranch located in Warda, TX which is about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. Even though the location would suggest the Texas hill country, the ranch had a real east Texas feel. There were not many hills but plenty of pine trees. The oil derrick would suggest a more north west Texas location but nope it is on the outskirts of the Texas hill country.  This is place where I became an ultra runner by completing my first 50K trail run. I did not expect this place to be this scenic. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the sunrise but I was too busing running. There are several ponds located throughout the ranch. There was not one big destination on the ranch but plenty of different things to see that caught my eye. The rolling hills and creeks mixed in with the pine trees and open fields made this a great hike.20181117_105055.jpg20181117_104021.jpg20181117_112933.jpg20181117_120020.jpg20181117_120927.jpg20181117_113113.jpg

It was a crazy day and I am glad I got to be able to hike a private ranch and also run a 50K. This is hike 42 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I will get back on track the next blog with my continuing adventures in Arkansas.

Red River Trail Run 10K

As part of my training for my 50K. I am doing some races to work on speed in between my endurance training during the week. It started with the 25K, then the Chupacabra and then Ragnar and now the Red River Trail Run. The race was held in Callisburg, TX on a private ranch which is about an hour north of Dallas. Unlike the previous races, this race was flatter with the ability to run hard most of the course. The trail was a bit muddy but overall the trail was in good condition. The rain has let up a few days earlier but most of the local trails are still closed. I have been training on the rode but I prefer trail running. My finishing time of 1:26:46 was not too bad considering the trail condition. I just seem to struggle more than most with wet and muddy courses. I was fourth in my age group and finished just outside the top half of the overall. 20181103_082443.jpg20181103_082457.jpg20181103_084035.jpg20181103_084121.jpg20181103_084138.jpg20181103_084211.jpg

This was my first trail run at a North Texas Trail Runners event. It was well organized and very well marked. I run with this group monthly and have also volunteered at an event. I also found out my training race next week was cancelled due to the trail being four feet under water. The rain is still messing with my training.

My next blog will be the 50K result.

Sutton Urban Wilderness Area

The Sutton Urban Wilderness Area is a nice bit of nature in the middle of the city. It is located in Norman. OK which is fifteen minutes south of Oklahoma City. The trail is flat with a few off shoot trails that have elevation change. The trail is a two mile loop around a small lake. It was a nice peaceful hike. I liked the trees and the water mix but also the open fields. The flat trail made it a speedy four mile trail run. I had to cut both the hike and run short due to the incoming storm. 20181024_121923.jpg20181024_122152.jpg20181024_123315.jpg20181024_123304.jpg20181024_124822.jpg20181024_124838.jpgThis was Hike 41 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I like the different parts of Oklahoma. I have been to both east and west Oklahoma and now central Oklahoma.

The next blog is going to be back at a trail race. I am building up some trail mileage in preparation for my 50K.

Lake Thunderbird State Park

Lake Thunderbird State Park is located in Midwest City, OK which is just southeast of Oklahoma City. I did not know if I would be able to get a hike in due to all the rain. The rain held off and I got to hike and run about nine and a half miles. The views of the lake were nice but all the wildlife was the highlight. There were deer and other woodland creatures all over the place. The trails were not marked as well as I would like but most trails I have been on in Oklahoma are not marked well. There were some elevation change but not too steep or long. The trails were very runnable. The were some muddy spots but the trails held up really well. 20181024_084650.jpg20181024_085510.jpg20181024_084556.jpg20181024_091223.jpg20181024_092903.jpg20181024_094204.jpg20181024_094214.jpg

The fall colors were a nice surprise. The different trees and grasses were fun to see. This was hike 40 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next hike is down the road in Norman, OK.