Do Wacka Do 25K

The race was located in Erick, OK at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Area in western Oklahoma.  I was drawn in by background picture of a canyon trail.  The picture was very accurate. The views were awesome.  They were the best part of the race and a reason to run it again.  The run was not particularly crowded also. Plus they had port o potties with showers.20190907_064728.jpgEarly start of the race20190907_071301.jpgSun rising over the plains

The course was mainly jeep trail and no shade to be had the entire race. The course covered from canyon rim down into canyon basin and back up several times. The 25K was a 16.2 mile loop with just under 1400 feet of elevation gain. There were four aid stations along the way strategically place at the top of some very steep and long climbs. A switchback or two would not have hurt. Most of the hills were straight up and only one had the benefit of switchbacks.20190907_072653.jpgView over the canyon

The 25K, 50K and 50 miler started at 7 AM and it was a cool low humidity morning but it was hot around 9:30 AM and I do not believe the aid stations were prepared for the type of heat that was coming later in the day. I was worried about fellow DDR because he was doing the 50 miler in 100 degree heat. The aid stations were not like Habanero i.e. ice was not plentiful.20190907_075854.jpgLooking for shade20190907_080248.jpgShade in the canyon basin

As for myself, I ran at a good steady pace the entire race. The hills kept me from going to fast out of the gate. STRAVA says I ran my third fastest 1/2 marathon. I was surprised since there was a bunch of elevation on this course. I finished in a good time of 3:33:23 and 21st out of 47. I rarely finish in the top half of a race this distance. The longer runners did not fare as well. One of the 50K and one of the 50 miler runners dropped down to 25K. Of the 16 runners that started the 50 miler only 6 finished and 9 dropped down to the 50K.

FB_IMG_1567911109026.jpgStart/Finish line

On a side note, I would usually take my camper out to the races.  I decided to get a hotel because I thought it would be to hot to stay in without electricity.  It was cool enough over night not to have electricity and the hotel was a nightmare.  First, the shower did not work and did not find out until the morning of the race and was up to late to do anything about it. Secondly, I saw what I believe was blood splatter on the drapes. Oh crap there was blood spots on the drapes.  I finally got the shower to work by almost ripping the handle off the wall.  I went across the street to get disinfectant for the room because of blood splatter on the drapes.  The TV malfunctioned and I had to fix it, I did not to not have TV with blood on the drapes. I will be using my camper from here on out.

Revisiting an old post

 

Miscellaneous Hiking Post with a List

In this post there is a 15 before 50 list, I am happy to write I am done with almost half of what I listed.  I am surprised that I have done as many as I have done.  I focused more on trail running than hiking the last two years but still do some hiking in between races.  I am not going to change my list but will recap my progress.

Finished:

4. I hiked to the summit of Elk Mountain on my father’s birthday.20171209_090924

5. I actually hiked to the summit of Pinnacle Mountain twice and the second time was a great solo hike.IMG_0934

7. I had an amazing hike to Cedar Falls in Petit Jean SP. The waterfall was everything I had hoped to see.20180513_075758

8. Canyon Loop Trail in Caprock Canyon SP was awesome and dangerous due to the quick temperature rise.20171220_124508

9. I am counting hiking the Lighthouse Trail in Palo Duro SP even though it was cut off.  I hiked all of it that was open.20171220_085511

14. I found Twin Falls in Pedernales SP last week. It was a fun short hike.20190627_155638

15. The Moss Lake and Echo Canyon trail hikes were fascinating and one a my many times I got lost hikes.DSC00598

Not yets:

2. and 3. I had it planned for this summer but my schedule is getting crazy.

6. Mountain Top trail has not been in my plans. I will look to get this one in early next year.

11. and 12. Hiking Old Baldy and Crystal Cave Trail are in the plans for summer of 2020 because this might be a family trip.

13. My East Trail hike is planned this week. I will be heading to Lost Maples SNA and another state park in the San Antonio area.

As for #1, I had a chance to do Mount Scott hike today. I have also had two previous chances but did other hikes.  I am thinking about a day trip to get it done. I also want to do it as an overnight trip for the stargazing

 

 

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.

DNSed

Today I was suppose to run the Trail Madness 16K at Turkey Mountain Urban Area in Tulsa, OK. I really wanted to make the four and a half drive and get in a good run. I checked the weather a for two weeks and the forecast was getting worse and worse. The predicted temperature was going lower and the snow and freezing precipitation prediction was growing.  I have run in freezing conditions and snow so not a problem but the travel concerns me. I do not think it was a wise or safe idea to drive that distance on possible icy roads. Plus, it was a SUnday race so I had no choice to return the day of because of work. The RD sent several emails earlier this week to update the trail conditions and giving the go ahead for the race. The final email stated the race was on the only thing that would stop the race would be excessive mud. Mud would not be a problem since the trails are frozen. I am assuming that some of the roads are not in great shape since the race entrances have been changed and the parking has also been changed. There are arguments among the trail running community of which is worse., a DNS or DNF.  I feel really bad about this DNS and I have not had a DNF so I would say a DNS is worse. I am glad the race did not sell out and I took someone’s spot so I guess the registration fee is a donation. 20171220_085511.jpg

In two weeks I will run my second half marathon, I have no plans on a DNS or DNF.

2019 This might be Crazy

In 2018, I completed a race at every possible distance from 5K to 50K. I also hiked some of the most scenic places I have ever seen. So what am going to do to top 2018? I dug deep into my imagination and found some crazy places. I am heading back down to the Texas Hill country to hike a park I have never been to yet. I am headed back to Arkansas to hike another mountain but this time from the more difficult side. I have a race in east Texas that took my legs last year. I signed up up for to prove to myself I can beat this course. I will once again will run the Huaco Cuatro Series in Waco, TX but this time I am going to try to get my times much lower. I am doing this all in the first two months of 2019. I want to get back to Oklahoma in March and also a second possible 50K in Kansas. I will get my mini travel camper in April so I can travel in style. My big hikes this year will be to hike to the highest points in Arkansas (I have already done it once), Oklahoma and Texas. My big run this year will be to buckle up with a 100K also in Kansas. I am looking forward to getting out and running and hiking all around America.

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.

 

 

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.

Another Top Ten List:Most Difficult Races of 2018

I have been asked the same question over and over again lately. What has been your favorite race so far in 2018? I was thinking that this list is going to be the same as my most difficult races of the year. The list is the same except for one race. The most difficult race did not make my favorite race list. I decided to do the most difficult list and wait on my favorite list. So far this year I have done every race distance I have wanted to do except one. My 50K is this weekend and then I have a couple more races planned to end the year with 25 races. I have done a 5K, 5 miler/8K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K and a 1/2 Marathon all on trails. I have done races in freezing weather and snow. I have done races in unbearable heat and humidity and pouring rain. The views from some of these courses have been absolutely breathtaking. All the races and training has been leading up to this weekend’s 50K. The following 10 races as difficult as they were are going to make this weekend easier but not easy.

10. The Wild Canyon Ultra 10K in Caprock Canyon State Park-The rain made the course wet and slick. The course was hilly and rugged but manageable to run. The views were by far the most impressive.20181114_123511.jpg

9. Rugged and Raw 10K at the Cedar Ridge Preserve-The preserve is my training ground and I am there about 3 times a week. A race here is just different. The trails are difficult on a normal day but this was a particularly warm and humid day. 20181114_124531.jpg

8. Rough Creek 10K at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, TX-This race is well known for the Rusty Crown. It is a torcherous uphill that is a definite leg killer. If that is not bad enough a steep downhill that tends to sends running crashing to the ground. 20181114_125300.jpg

7. Down N Dirty 8K at Cameron Park-I ran this race last year not knowing how hilly the course was going to be. I was not surprised this year and it still kicked my butt. The last climb after the 5 mile mark is the one that gets me.20181114_130102.jpg

6. Cross Timbers 5 Miler off of Lake Texoma-The rain made this course a muddy mess. This is one of the more technical courses but with the pouring rain it was down right impossible to run. The views were nice when the sun finally came out but it was a beatdown of a race.20181114_131043.jpg

5. DanMan 1/2 Marathon in Oklahoma-I wanted to get this distance done this year and nothing was going to stop me. I ran in freezing temperatures, rain, snow and mud. I finished and was ten minutes ahead of my predicted time. The course was not too tough but the elements made it a doozy. I only got half of the elevation profile.20181114_131951.jpg

4. Ragnar Trail Relay in Comfort, TX-The three courses were difficult but once again rain was what made this a difficult race. The 7.5 and 3 mile courses were not too bad but the 5 mile course was treacherous. It was by far the most technical and I had to run it night with bad lighting. 20181114_132702.jpg

3. Chupacabra 15K at Cameron Park-This is another race at Cameron Park but the start/finish is at the bottom. The course is relentless. It is always going up or down or a switchback. There is not a straight or level part on the entire course. It slowly wears a runner down.20181114_133339.jpg

2. Mount Magazine in Arkansas-They lure you in with a free race then you realize it is a trap. The heat and humidity were way too high for that early in the morning. The course was probably the most beautiful and dangerous. The cliffs are unforgiving and the climbs last for miles.20181114_134207.jpg

  1. Pineywoods Ultra 25K at Tyler State Park-I did not think I was going to finish this race. Another rain soaked race with high humidity and muddy trails. The distance was the longest race to date but I fell apart well before the finish. My legs gave out and I finished, barely. The race was not that technical or difficult but it was just one of those races where nothing went right.20181114_135316.jpg

The biggest factor in making these races difficult besides the elevation changes was the the muddy courses and high humid temperatures. The good thing is that these races make me prepared for anything. I like the weather prediction for the 50K. It is supposed to be sunny and dry with a temperature range between 46 and 62.  Hopefully the 50K will not make this list but the list of one my favorite races of the year.

See ya on the trails.