Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wichita Wildlife Refuge

A group of six did some exploring at the Wichita Wildlife Refuge last Sunday. I tossed the idea out on Facebook, and a dozen or more chimed in wanting to go--but life's goings-on got in the way for some, and the Plate family and I met the Trosper household at the visitor center there.

We decided to do the Bison Loop--a trail that Clint Green and I had ran a few months ago. I knew this route, and knew it was picturesque. The loop would get us close to 7 miles, and we could always get in more miles later if we wanted.

Left to right--Brandon, Cameron, Mark, Lisa, Eric, and me. This pic was taken after our run, but it seemed more appropriate to put the picture at the start of this post.

We were treated to narrow single track for most of the way. At times we had grass sweeping our legs. I was concerned about ticks, and in fact did pick up one. But at 58 degrees, the ticks and chiggers were a bit more dormant.

There were wild flowers galore. I ran well, but also stopped for pictures several times. Lisa is a camera bug too. Our pace was very casual, and I ended up with over 50 pictures.

Any rock outcroppings were fair game for Cameron and Brandon. They jumped around like billy goats for most of the run.

Lisa and Eric are from the OKC area, and have done a few of our races. When I sent out the invites for the field trip, I tried to include a lot of friends we have made in our trail series events. They really loved the area, and are already planning another trip.

Trail Goat and Thing Two scramble down to the water.

One river/creek/stream cuts across the prairie, through canyons and is jaw-droppingly beautiful. 

Get the right camera angle, and you can see that this is Oklahoma's mini Grand Canyon.

I'm not sure if water flows all year round. I was here last year over the Labor Day weekend. It was over 100 degrees, and water was flowing--creating several water falls.

I lost count of the dams along the way. On the eastern side of the loop, we passed 5-6 dams--each making  small lakes of seemingly deep black water.

My original plan was to park at the Kite Trailhead, and cross this dam to the Bison Loop. I missed the turn, and went on to the Dog Run Hollow Trailhead--which was a good thing because there was enough water rushing over the top of the dam to prevent a safe crossing.

More rock scrambling. With my grippy shoes, I made it right up the face of these boulders--actually much quicker than the Plate boys. I stayed on the parts of the boulders that had no green growth as it seemed like a responsible thing to do.

More flower pics. Most of the trail was dirt or crushed rock and very runnable, but parts were boulder fields which I walked through. I ran a few technical segments, but prospects jacking up an ankle kept me at a cautious pace.

Couldn't pass up the scary tree pic.

A flock of geese were patrolling this dam. I crept up carefully and quietly to get a good picture. A few took a leisurely escape and paddled a few feet out in the water. (Like I would try to follow. LOL!)

This was a spillway from the dam. It looked like a stairway. I tested the water, and it was much colder than I expected.

We were nearing the end of the loop. Lisa had marked our turn with a small cairn. It seemed like we were heading away from our cars the last half mile--and I guess we were, but that's just how the trail runs.

Yes--we did see bison on the Bison Trail. Lots. I'd say there was 50 in the herd. Lots of babies too. We kept our distance--unlike the Yellowstone tourists who took a baby bison to the ranger station because they thought it was cold.

We decided to call it a day after the loop. I had 6.8 miles on my Strava, but most everyone else had 6.3 to 6.5. I guess I got a little extra on the dam? Eric and Lisa headed home to check on their baby chickens and ducks, Mark and the boys and I had Meers Burgers on our minds.

I have a group of OKC friends who run here a lot. They usually run Mt Scott first--early to get up and down before a lot of car traffic makes is hazardous. It's about 1000 feet of climb in 2.7 miles--steep and relentless the whole way. We did see a couple of walkers going up, and a couple of bikers as well. Next time, I will run it for sure.

 It's hard to get a picture that conveys how high up you are. The selfie did not help much either.

This is about a 90 degree panorama. t was cold up here. I'd say upper 40s, with a stiff wind--and it started raining. Otherwise I would have continued my search for a camera angle that illustrated how high up we were. Another time.

There was not a long line spilling out of the front door like there are at times, but still we had to wait 30 minutes for a table, and then another 30 minutes to get our food. But Meers Burgers were worth the wait. These are grass fed longhorn cattle, and are very lean. They cook them all medium well, which is well done in my books. The flavor is great, and I'll always eat one when I come to the Wichitas--but if they were just a bit juicer, I'd give them a 10. We also had peach cobbler and home made ice cream. One bowl would have fed us all. And it was amazing. I gained 5 pounds on this trip.

TATUR, and I like to do these trail trips around once a month. Next time, I will create an Event on Facebook instead of the huge group message which was a bit irritating to some when the chatter commenced. If you'd like an invite, send me a a FB or text message.

1 comment:

  1. I've been down to the Wichitas a few times. When I worked in pipeline operations I would drive to the top of Mount Scott and the radio reception was so good that all my guys thought that I was right near. I took my Dad to the Wildlife Refuge a few years ago. He is an old Forest Ranger and he gets all worked up when people forget that the Forest Service is the ones that started the refuge and saved the bison from extinction. He went into the visitor center and found the a volunteer in a uniform shirt and proceeded to set the record straight. Later on I went geocaching with him and we surprised a coyote in a canyon and then later went to Fort Sill to Geronimo's grave. I've also been camping there but I've never had a Meers burger. So I need to get down and do that.

    In the meantime nobody conjures up an adventure or reports on it like you do TZ.