Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wichita Mountains Bison Trail

My buddy Clint Green and I traveled to the Wichita Mountains in SW Oklahoma today and planned on running 10-12 miles on the trailz there. I had drove through the area a month ago, and had a fairly good idea of what was there. 

 Clint had been there a time or two, and suggested the Bison Trail, a loop that was around 5 miles, and then hitting the Charon's Garden and Elk Mountain Trailz.
 We parked at the Dog Hollow trail head, and with no grand fanfare other than Clint waving, we took off.
 The first leg of the trail connected us to the big loop, and was a little overgrown in places By the time we hit the first bridge though, the trail was much more defined for the most part.
 We ran on granite rocks, and crushed granite chat.  It looked like a perfect place to find a rattlesnake sunning in the mid 60 degree sunshine, but we never saw one.
 My knee seemed to be cooperating, and while I was not setting any land speed records, I ran some and shuffled some, and walked the technical sections. 
 There were sections worse than this and in places it seemed like walking through a hallway of embedded bowling balls.
 I knew from passing through the preserve last month that there were a few small lakes, but there were far more of them than I thought. This area considered by some to be dry desert landscape, is peppered with canyons and old man-made dams creating deep picturesque channels.
 The trail showcased this canyon. There were hikers who had found there way down to the waters edge, but we stayed on the main trail near the top.
 One wrong step would have been bad!
 This was the highlight of the loop. I was amazed at these canyons.
 About that "one wrong step" theme--falling down would be bloody from prickly pear cacti as well as the rough boulders.
 Here's another of the many dams--this one made of rocks gathered from the area. Most of these dams were built in the 20s and 30s.
 The trail turned back north at around mile 4. Running across the prairie was enchanting. Both Clint and I mused how this most of this area has looked exactly the same for years--maybe centuries. Two or three of the small black dots in the horizon were buffalo. I zoomed in and of the several pictures I took, this was the best.

 We walked across this dam. Clint said he saw trailz on the other side--probably rogue trailz.
 We got in a rhythm through this section and ran it with very few walk breaks. 
 French Lake--the last one on the loop. There were paddleboaters, kayaks, anglers, and hikers abundant. We were the only trail runners.
 A small loop--the Elk loop I think--comprised the northern end of the loop. It was very well maintained and the stay boulders were moved to make a border. This was nice running.
 Eventually we reached the spur that took us from the main loop back to the car. After 6 miles, I started having occasional knee twinges which I cautiously ignored. But when I had three consecutive ouchie footfalls, I told Clint I needed to walk the last half mile in.
No real harm done to knee. I did a rubdown hopefully ridding my legs of any chiggers, and drank an Angry Orchard that Clint brought. We decided to postpone the remaining planned running to a future trip, and headed to Meers for a famous Meers-Burger.
The burger did not disappoint, but the fries were not so great. But Meers is the place to go for lunch after a run in the Wichitas. Another trip coming soon. :-)

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