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.

 

2017 My Top 10 Places Hiked

My last blog of the year is a review of the best places I have hiked this year. I was going to do a list of top ten hikes but I could not narrow it down to a good twenty. Plus the order would change as I was thinking about which hike should be placed on the list. I decided on places because it was easier but not easy. The top ten was not too difficult but the order was very hard. I did about 60 hikes this calendar year and they were spread out the entire twelve months. I had to compare the recent fresh in my mind place with a place that was hiked ten to eleven months ago. The ten places I have chosen, I have or will hike multiple times. Two places I have hiked but not blogged about yet. The ten places cover three states, a national park and a wildlife refuge.

10. Cedar Ridge Preserve-Minutes away from home and is one of the most scenic areas in Dallas County. hike2220171124_121348.jpg

9. Hot Springs National Park-This quaint cozy park has some great views. 20171112_103833.jpg20171112_103709.jpg

8. Pedernales Falls State Park-The Texas hill country is all over this list.20170406_131314.jpg20170122_130731.jpg

7. Pinnacle Mountain State Park-The second Arkansas park and a summit hike.20171111_141701.jpg20171111_082716.jpg

6. Enchanted Rock SNA-The park is more than The Rock. Hidden gems everywhere.20170406_092524.jpg20170122_102656.jpg

5. Lost Maples SNA-A nature made amphitheater with great trees, waterfalls and views.20170711_182026.jpg20170712_160931.jpg

4. Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge-This place has everything. Summits and waterfalls.20171208_162255.jpg20171001_111717.jpg

3. Caprock Canyon State Park-Home of the official bison herd of Texas. Plus canyon views.20171220_124508.jpg20171220_122602.jpg

2. Colorado Bend State Park-Gorman Falls is amazing but that is just the start.20170405_143431.jpg20170405_134311.jpg

1. Palo Duro Canyon State Park-The second largest canyon in the USA.20171220_082257.jpg20171219_144321.jpg

These top ten places that I have hiked in 2017 maed this a memorable and fantastic year. Next year I hope to have a totally different list of places.

Post Oak Falls Wichita Mountains

My adventures to waterfalls this year have been hit or miss. I have had some surprises and some disappointments. I was really hoping that Post Oak Falls would be one of those falls that would leave me breathless. So far every hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has lived up to or exceeded my expectations. Post Oak Falls was a mix of surprise and disappointment. The waterfall was dry when I got to Post Oak Falls so that was the disappointment. The surprise was what the waterfall could have been if it was flowing. There was some water frozen on the cliff where the waterfall would have been. The waterfall was somewhat hidden in a narrow cove almost like it was on a side trail. It was a very cool place to find a waterfall. I hike to the waterfall and back was a moderate hike. It had some elevation change, challenging footing and bushwacking. The hike also had nice views of the mountains, Post Oak Creek and Treasure Lake.20171209_102141.jpg20171209_103634.jpg20171209_103638.jpg20171209_103507.jpg20171209_105210.jpg20171209_105738.jpg

Hopefully the next time I am here, it would have rained several inches so I can get a good view of Post Oak Falls flowing. I believe this can be one of the more impressive waterfalls.

Next up is a best of 2017 blog. I was going to do a top 10 hike list but there are too many to chose from. I am going to do a 2017 top 10 places I have hiked this year list.

Elk Mountain Wichita Mountains

This was definitely one of my favorites hikes of the year. I had a second chance to hike Elk Mountain and I made the most of it. The summit of Elk Mountain was spectacular. It was a freezing morning when I started hiking but warmed up near the top. It was great to have the summit to myself.  The chance to take in my surroundings in peace was awesome. The views from the top were incredible. It was cold and windy but that did not bother me at all, just being at the summit was enjoyable. After several minutes of picture taking and wandering around the summit I headed back down to the trail head. The biggest problem is that the trail is not marked so I got lost on the way down several times. I was blessed to find a hiking buddy with a GPS app that was working on the way down but we still got off trail twice. The trip down was an extra three quarters of a mile of pleasant views. This is a good starter summit hike for hikers. It is definitely not easy but not too hard. You will have to do some bouldering but nothing too difficult. It was a nice hike on a cold clear day.20171209_082322.jpg20171209_083039.jpg20171209_085244.jpg20171209_085830.jpg20171209_085622.jpg20171209_090924.jpg20171209_090817.jpg

I absolutely loved this hike and will definitely do it again. The entire wildlife refuge is beautiful and the summit of Elk Mountain gives a great view of some of it.

The next blog is my last hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and a waterfall hike.

Forty Foot Hole Wichita Mountains

I decided on December 1st 2017 to do another 52 Hike Challenge. I completed my first challenge this year in 46 weeks. The challenge I just finished was the Adventure Challenge. The hikes had to include things like waterfalls, sunset/sunrise, group, reflective, bucket list amd others. This challenge will entail 52 different hikes. I did repeat a few hikes last time but this time no repeating. I am also going to try to finish some trails I did not finish last year.

The Forty Foot Hole is located in the Wichita Mountains in Lawton, OK. This is my second visit and I got to finish this trail from the opposite direction. This side of the trail did not have all the waterfalls but had one nice one. The Forty Foot Hole was amazing. I hiked the rim and then hiked along the river. I could not believe how picturesque this place looked at dusk. I wish I had more time here but I was looking for another trailhead in which I did not find until it was dark. I will be back here to do some more hiking.20171208_162030.jpg20171208_160150.jpg20171208_164933.jpg20171208_162255.jpg20171208_173832.jpg20171208_173613.jpg

This was another fun trip. I did not see a buffalo this time but I did see the biggest elk I have ever seen. This place is great and well worth a return trip to finish off some other hikes I want to complete.

My next hike continues in the Wichita Mountains but this time it is a summit hike.

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.