Saturday, April 22, 2017

Lake Bixhoma--one of NE Oklahoma's best kept secrets--and I'm spilling the beans.

I needed a decent run--some quality time on my feet moving in some sort of forward motion. Since it rained a half a foot on Friday, running at Turkey Mountain seemed like a squishy idea. So I decided to go to my favorite place to run in spite of wet conditions--Lake Bixhoma. I had put out the word to a few friends and about six of us expressed an interest in coming, but life as it often does had other plans and three of us showed up to play.
Picture by Johnna Ellison
A gravel road runs around 2/3 of the lake. I always park at the point where it's around halfway in either direction and it is truly relatively-to-actually flat. A nice bonus was a freshly delivered porta-potty to replace the recently demolished bathrooms. I have no problems using a tree, but there are times when a clean porta-pot is just the bee's knees. Johnna and Bryan-formerly-known-as-Mitch (BfkaM from henceforth) wee about 15 minutes behind me. I took that time to take a few pictures and run what would turn into some hill repeats. The road leading down to the lake is a steep descent, and it's a great place to do hill training.

[I have a hard and fast rule about hill repeats. If you only go up and own one time--folks--it's not a repeat. It's just a Peat. Do it twice and you've done a repeat. But do not make the mistake of saying you did hill repeats--you have not. Repeats is plural, and you must do a =third one to claim repeats status. Three or more = repeats. Two = a repeat. One is just a peat.]

I also managed to take a few pictures of waterfalls before my buddies got here. Bixhoma had received a ton of rain--more than Tulsa I bet. These falls were awesome, but I knew the falls below the lake would be amazing. You could hear them a quarter mile away.

On the west side of the lake--years ago, some boy scouts had begun cutting the Ichabod Crane Trail. It went from the gravel road up a steep ascent and just dead-ended. It remained that way for years, but today there was a new sign at the trailhead. We were up for some semi-muddy climbing and were surprised to find a lollipop loop trail about a half mile in distance with 113 feet of ascent.

With the west out and back done, we went for the east side. This side takes you across the dam and to a locked gate which we ran around. at the end of what remains of a gravel-turned-double track trail, the beginnings of some single track was started a few years ago. Last winter (13-14 months ago) Johnna and I plowed our way through some newly flagged trails and made it maybe as much as a half mile before we lost sight of any further ribbons. Today, it did not look like anyone had dome any more work on it. The tall grass (weeds and briars) kept us from venturing out. As cold and wet as it was, Johnna had collected a tick already. I am usually a tick magnet and had not sprayed or anything. we'd just get our miles in some other way.

On the way back, we took a road that went u a nice hill through the woods to a Fred-Flinstone sort of campground. Someone had made a couple of chairs out of huge rocks. Since we were here last, it looked like a second chair was forthcoming as there was a huge pile of newly acquired large flat rocks. A, so a massive firepit was constructed, and had well-contained a few campfires recently. I have always thought the rock chair looked like an altar. I always look to see if I ee any remains of spilled blood on it. To play out my fantasy, BfkaM holds a dagger (which looks very much like a water bottle) high in the air before plunging it into the sacrificial redhead. Oh--it was just acting folks!

From there, we hit the falls. It was a muddy descent to the edge of the stream at the base f the falls--steep enough that I wondered if we were making a good decision going all the way down to the water's edge. But we did make it and it was worth the trip. There was much picture taking, and I could hardly hear our conversation over the roar of the falls.

A  nice cloud of fog rose from the white water cascading over the 30n foot drop. We talked about tubing down this, kayaking, hamster balling. Of course, these falls are non-existent unless the lake is full from a heavy rain.

Mitch had to get home so Johnna and I headed back up the big hill and continued on north down a long gentle descent about two miles from where we parked. From three, we tackled what looked like an interesting hill to the east. A narrow paved road appeared to just go straight up into the clouds. There was a locked gate but an obvious trail where foot traffic and ATV traffic skirted around the gate--and there weren't any NO TRESPASSING or POSTED signs. That's like saying "Yall come on in, ya hear?" This climb was 173' in a quarter mile.and was possibly the steepest paved road I've ever been on. I don't see how a car could even climb the route when the road was wet. The trip back down was not a run at all. It would have been easy to have your feet slip out from under you resulting it a face or butt plant.

I'm not the biggest fan of running on the road, but these roads weren' all that bad. We did flip sides several times to cars coming u behind us and such. Then there's the paparazzi that pulls up and starts taking our pictures. Turns out it was friendly fire--none other that Clint Green who evidently saw my Facebook posts of the waterfalls and decided to come see for himself. We chatted with him for a few minutes both times whe passed us.

Johnna and I both wanted 15 miles for the day so we had to tack on another couple out-and-backs at the lake.

I seized the opportunity to Storm the Dam (running down the steep embankment only to trudge back up) but not before taking a couple pictures to document the deed.

I ended up with 15.66 miles with multiple stops for bathroom breaks, Clint Green breaks, petting dog breaks, picture taking breaks, refilling water bottles, shedding clothes, putting clothes back on, etc. We conquered 2,156 feet of vertical--which looks good on an elevation profile. ;-)

The City of Bixby has recently been putting a bit of money into updating the facilities here. It seems like a new bathroom might be on the agenda. They have already added a few picnic tables and a huge gazebo on the SW corner of the lake perched on a raised knoll with a spectacular view of the lake and the evening sunset. The three of us talked about having an organized group outing here sometime and cooking some breakfast stuff for after the run. Let's do it before it gets too hot!!

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