Crab Eyes Wichita Mountains

I had to go back to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge to complete a hike I started a long time ago.  Crab Eyes is a rock formation located near Elk Mountain and on the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area.  I like the balancing rock formations almost as much as I like waterfalls.  This hike was not easy.  There were some steep inclines and the usual lack of trail markings.  I really like hiking here and will be back again to do a couple other hikes I have not gotten to do.

The hike takes you through a forest like area and several water crossings.  You will hike in an open area and see all the mountains surrounding the area. You will traverse down into a valley and then back up to Crab Eyes. The last climb is steep but absolutely worth the trip.  The views getting to the destination are also some of the better views you get in the Charon Gardens Wilderness Area.  The hike was a 4.5 mile out and back.  The weird thing at the beginning of the hike was a longhorn steer on the trail.  I decided to take a different way to the trailhead.  I thought it would be gone by the time I returned, nope it was still there.  I took my chances this time since it was more interested in grazing and further off the trail.  20190420_074345.jpgIt was big and angry looking.20190420_080928.jpgOpen area with a view20190420_082725.jpgWorking my way up20190420_083231.jpgHere I am near the top. Last pic on the trip up.  20190420_084004.jpgI thought this was just a cool pic to get on the way back20190420_085856.jpgOpen plain on the way back to the trailhead

I get back to trail running for the next month and a half.  I am going to try to fit in some hiking but I signed up for plenty of runs until June.

Great Plains State Park

Great Plains State Park is located in Mountain Park, OK., which is about about 45 minutes west northwest of Lawton.  The name of the city is an ideal name because it is surrounded by mountains.  It is between the Wichita Mountains and the Quartz Mountains.  The Great Plains State Park is miss named because it is nothing but hills and mountains.   This was also my headquarters to go between the two mountains ranges.  I unfortunately did not make to the Quartz Mountains.  The prior day I spent more time than I thought at the Wichita Mountains.  Plus this being the first trip with my camper I had some “forgot some stuff issues.”  I did get some hiking time in this state park.

The park had the usual lack of trail markings I come to expect while hiking in Oklahoma.  This time my hike to an unusual turn for the worse.  I headed to the trailhead which was marked by an orange bucket with a flag in it.  I had a map, it looked like somebody just drew it, and a compass so I felt comfortable.  I also started the hike with plenty of sunlight and the park was not that big.  At the first split in the trail I went in a direction that would take me back toward my campsite.  The trail had no markings but there were cairns on the side of the trail every few feet.  I quickly realized that this trail was not taking me up the mountain but around it.  I wanted to get some elevation change plus look down on the park and see other mountain ranges in the distance.  I back tracked to the split and headed the other direction.

This trail was a bit more defined but still no markings.  I started to see blue tape on trees by the trail.  I was guessing this was the trail marking.  I followed them up to the top of the mountain overlooking my campsite.  I got to see everything I wanted and had markings to follow to get back down.  I followed the blue markings and quickly realized this is not the way I got up here.  Then the markings went away, I tried to backtrack but I could not find the trail I was on originally.  The trail map was no help at all.  I went back to one of the higher ridge lines of the mountain and found the dam that was close to my campsite.  I decided to take a direct route to the dam.  I was on a trail most of the way down until the trail started to circle back up the mountain.  I stayed the steady course downward and I had to bushwhack a bit to get to another clearing.  As the sun was setting and trees were now blocking my view of anything, I thought of calling 911.  I gave myself fifteen more minutes of straight hiking to find something I recognized.  I continued in a straight line and I saw a campsite.  It was the one in which was camping at but I did not know at the time.  I finally get to the road and feel good.  I see my camper and now I know I am about a half mile from the trailhead.

I hike the shoreline trail back to my car and the trailhead.  I make it safely before the sun sets.  The funny thing is I was not prepared to camp in a camper but was prepared to get lost hiking.  20190419_184628.jpgTrail markings20190419_184452.jpgMore trail markings20190419_185554.jpgMaking my way up20190419_191548.jpgThe reason I hiked to the top20190419_191652.jpgThey were waiting for me.20190419_192233.jpgMy way back downhill.20190419_194843.jpgFinally the Shoreline trail.

I survived to hike another day.  Next up, I went back to the Wichita Mountains to finish a hike I started over a year ago.

 

The Narrows Wichita Mountains

This was my third trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton, OK.  I have been hiking two to three sections at a time.  I have heard about the Narrows from other hikers, so I decided to check it out.  The trailheads here are poorly marked and the trails are not marked, so finding the trail and going the right direction took some help.  Although the trail markings are nonexistent, the trails are a blast to hike.  After getting directions from a fellow hiker, I took a one and a half mile out and back turned it into a two mile adventure.  It had rain plenty the past few weeks and the river had a brisk flow.  The trail had several steep inclines and the elevation gains and loses were quick and long.  I did lose the trail once but I was down in a valley with only one way out so the only thing I needed to do is hike up.  It was fairly crowded for my taste but not overly crowded.  There are many overlooks on the trail and the temperature was perfect for the lizards that were out sunbathing. 20190419_160813.jpg20190419_161831.jpg20190419_162807.jpg20190419_155753.jpg20190419_154404.jpg20190420_165516.jpg

Next up was a hike gone almost terribly wrong that involved bushwhacking.

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.