San Felipe Shoot-Out

I had a wild time at this race. San Felipe is a small city one hour due west of Houston. The race took place in Stephen F. Austin SP. The park is nice but the park staff is the best. The wild and crazy part was the weather. I drove in blinding rain for an hour and a half of a three and a half hour drive just to get there. I got to the park and it was hot humid and no rain in sight. I got a good hike in and then settled down at the camp site. The main problem was a tornado watch in the area. I am still trying to distinguish the difference between a tornado watch and warning. I figured it out quick that night. So as the storm clouds rolled in with lightning and thunder, I found out the difference. A tornado warning is that the weather conditions are conducive to producing tornadoes. A tornado watch is when the is a tornado on the ground in the area. I actually slept well in a shelter at would have easily been blown away if a tornado hit the park. The crazy thing is that the park did not get rain either. It rained everywhere but where the race was taking place. I am truly blessed. The shoot-out format was really cool but not for me this year. The shoot-out is a 5K followed by a 10K and lastly followed by a half marathon. All three races are back to back to back, the rest depends on the speed of the finish of each run. I would have had adequate rest between the 5K and 10K but my 10K times at the time would have left me with just a few minutes before the start of the half marathon. I only registered for the 5K and had a great time. I put up a time of 35:54 on a relatively flat and fast course. 20170324_182240.jpgunspecified-3.jpgunspecified-1.jpg17342566_1949792985255325_6530763373753679950_n.jpg17492487_1949435271957763_962042347878396713_o.jpg

I eventually want to do the shoot-out or at least two parts of it. I think this would be a good training run for the year I chose to do the Ragnar Trail Run.

The next trail run was a flat and fast 5 miler. I had an are you kidding me finish.

Crazy Desert Trail Race

I did the 5K race again. This is another race by Trail Racing Over Texas(TROT). This is my second TROT race and I like their races. This race was in San Angelo, TX which is four and a half hours southwest of the DFW metroplex. I did this race in combination of hiking San Angelo SP. The course was relatively flat but did have some short rugged hills thrown in. The run started off slow because I was trying to get my run tracker started but it never happened. I was the last one to start and had to pass all the walkers and slower runners. The trail was mostly single track and that took awhile to do but it kept me at a good pace early. I still have a tendency to start too fast and burn out near the end. The course was a single loop that was at the north end of the park. This part of the park was very west Texas desert like. The views were fabulous and the temperature was just right. I ran in these great conditions and put up my best trial 5K time to date. I ran a 34:31 and came in first in my age group and thirteenth in my gender and twenty second overall.

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This was an all around fun weekend. This was one of my favorite 5Ks of the year.

The next trail race was an experience I will never forget.

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.

2017 Top Ten Hikes

This list will consist of only hikes I have done this year. I will also bore followers with an all time list at the end of the year because I have one more trip planned this year. Next year I will be doing less hiking and more trail running trying to move up to the 20K and 25K distances at some time next year. This year was my most active year hiking ever. I have hiked over twenty state parks and a handful of other parks. I really want to finish the 52 Hike Challenge within the year and I am on pace to finish early. I have completed 48 hikes this year and I have two months to get four more hikes done. The majority of my hikes have been in Texas but I did get into Oklahoma for a weekend of hiking. I had adventures in the high hills of central Texas. I was blessed to see all different parts of Texas from the piney woods to the hill country and also the west Texas desert and the great plains. I had a difficult time narrowing it down to ten hikes and it might change depending on the day but here it goes:

10. Tyler State Park, Whispering Pines Trail-This really short trail was visually electric.20170222_102938_001.jpg

9. Lake Mineral Wells State Park, Penitentiary Hollow-Not really a trail but it a rock climbers paradise with bouldering and lake views mixed in.20170304_135240.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park, Pedernales Falls Trail System-it is as long as you want it be but you must go down to the falls for a spectacular view of the water.20170122_133632.jpg

7. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Kite Trail-bouldering over mini waterfalls, what more can I say.20170930_173833.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA, Summit Trail-I felt very accomplished summiting The Rock.20170406_095152.jpg

5. Inks Lake State Park, Devil’s Waterhole Nature Trail/Valley Spring Creek Trail-This combination of trails is the hidden gem of Texas.20170405_183904.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Little Baldy Mountain Trail-Another summit but this one combined hiking and rock climbing.20170930_183728.jpg

3. Lost Maples SNA, East-West Trail/East Trail-one of the toughest uphill hikes I had before #2 on this list but worth every step.20170711_180348.jpg

2. Hill Country SNA, Merrick Mile Trail/West Peak Overlook Trail-this was a great hike with better views. I later found out of a similar hike with even better views, need to see to believe. 20170712_092155.jpg

  1. Colorado Bend State Park, Gorman Falls Trail-I was just so amazed at these falls.20170405_143220.jpg So there is the 2017 top ten as of today. I could have easily expanded to a top twenty. I have enjoyed my hikes this year so far and am looking forward to my next set of hikes and hopefully they can crack this list.

The blog will be about trail running. The trail runs and hikes have gone hand in hand on many occasions. I like going to trail races just to hike the park at times.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge Part 2

This place is amazing. These two trails were very different than the first two trails. The first two trails had a bunch of water features and a summit. These two were destination hikes and out and backs. The only water were in small creeks and there was not a summit to be had. The only elevation changes were up long shallow hills and some quick steep inclines. I did not see any more bison but I did see a large copperhead. Once again finding trailheads and staying on the trail was challenging. I actually started hiking the wrong trail and was informed by a local that I was on the wrong trail. I was also informed that hiking poles are useless when going through the boulder field. Another  great bit of information was not to try the boulder field alone. The trek is not extremely treacherous but just challenging enough that most should not be alone. I soon found out that all the advice was spot on.

The first trail on this day was Charons Garden Trail but in hindsight I should have done Elk Mountain. This trail had some nice views of rock formations and my end was at the beginning of the boulder field. 20171001_110644.jpg20171001_113808.jpg20171001_111717.jpg20171001_120312.jpg20171001_120358.jpg20171001_114728.jpg

The second trail of the day was Crab Eyes Trail. I was tired by the time I started this hike. My legs felt like jello from the run earlier in the morning. I was still recovering from from the 10K and hikes yesterday also. I was determined to see the crab eyes though. I did a speed hike just to get close and then I knew I had to get back before my legs gave out. 20171001_123834.jpg20171001_123059.jpg20171001_124107.jpg20171001_124103.jpg20171001_124821.jpg20171001_124943.jpg

I got this close to the crab eyes. I actually timed my turn around perfect. My legs cramped up as soon as I got back to the car. It put me in a dilemma because I could not sit down without my leg cramping. I had the help of muscle cream and stretching to get me on my way. I will definitely be coming back. I have several places I want to hike. I might just need to take a week here just to get most of the trails hiked.

I am now caught up on all my hikes this year. I have one more trip planned. I will be going back to Arkansas to hopefully get two summit hikes and a few waterfalls also. I do have some trail running pics and stories I will use as fillers until I get back from Arkansas. I also will not be blogging as frequently. I also might throw in some lists because everybody likes a list.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

I heard about this place on a random search for a place to run a trail race. I did not find a trail race but did find a quarter marathon race. I signed up for the race and did some research on the area around Lawton, OK. I found that the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge was minutes away and has some great hiking. I did not realize is that I was doing a 10K trail race the day before the quarter marathon race. My schedule was to wake up early Saturday and run a 10K trail race then drive three and half hours to Lawton, OK and hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. On Sunday, wake up early again and run a quarter marathon and then hike the Wichita Wildlife Refuge again and then make the return drive back home. I packed in a bunch of miles in one weekend. A total of 13 miles running and eight miles of hiking.

I love this place. I got to see bison and longhorns. Bison are the biggest animals I have ever seen. The mountains are beautiful and there are so many places to see and trails to hike. I had seven trails I wanted to hike. I settled on completing two and partial hiking two others. I got to summit a small mountain and walk across a dam. I did some bouldering and saw many small and large waterfalls. I hiked on grasslands and forest like areas. I met many friendly people and a copperhead snake.

On Saturday, I hiked the Kite Trail and Little Baldy Mountain. I saw the bison on this day on the way between the trails. Kite Trail ran along Lost Lake and large creek. I did most of my bouldering and waterfall watching on this trail.20170930_163839.jpg20170930_164242.jpg20170930_165904.jpg20170930_164500.jpg20170930_170451.jpg20170930_170058.jpg20170930_170617.jpg20170930_180254.jpg

There were so many more pictures but these were the ones I chose. The next hike was the summit of Little Baldy Mountain and a walk across a dam. This was the shortest of the four hikes but had the most elevation change. I also got lost several times on this hike and the previous hike. The trails were not marked at all as I found out. I had to talk to many people just to get to and stay on the correct trail.20170930_181958.jpg20170930_181900.jpg20170930_182743.jpg20170930_182311.jpg20170930_183749.jpg20170930_183746.jpg20170930_185522.jpg20170930_185648.jpg

I saw some cool balancing rock formations on both of these hikes. I wanted to get another hike in that day but I ran out of sunlight.

I will continue my Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge blog next with the second day of running and more hiking.