Monday morning I decided to go check out the North Woods trails at Oxley Nature Center. I heard there was a new trail and I wanted to go check it out.
I don’t need much of an excuse to go to Oxley, especially what they call the North Woods Unit. Seldom do I see another person.
Usually there are lots of birds and squirrels. This day I saw a bunch of deer running through the woods, too far away to even try taking a photo.
The leaves have pretty much got blown off the trees already so you can see deep into the woods now.
Oxley is kind of low. There is almost always water. It is kind of halfway a swamp.
Hah, I found the new trail. It’s not very long, its kind of a cutoff from one part of the existing trail system to another. That’s okay. I love networked trail systems. It makes for options and I love options.
I soon got to the boardwalk. One of my favorite spots. Something about a boardwalk in the woods looks great to me.
Oxley hasn’t added the trail to their trails maps yet so I am doing it for them. It’s the blue line highlighted in yellow above. I’m a thinking when I start trailrunning again I can do a cool 4 mile route of the new network. I had been reading on social media on the new trail at Oxley but I couldn’t figure out where it was, so now we know.
Heather and I went down to Broken Bow, Oklahoma this past weekend for a long overdue vacation and reset. We were supposed to go last Spring for a combination birthday, retirement, and other things weekend but then the pandemic showed up. We rented a very nice cabin for the weekend.
We did a couple of hikes. The first one was in Beavers Bend State Park, a four mile route on the Lakeview Trail.
It was a clean, very well maintained and marked route through the mixed hardwoods and pines.
I think they use controlled burns to keep the brush down. It really makes a difference in forest health where it can be done safely. It really opens the forest up to where you can see into it.
The loop trail borders Broken Bow Lake on the return leg leading to some nice scenery. This looks like a good place to go fishing to me.
Another cove seen on the trail.
Right at four miles. We were tired but happy!! Ready to chill out at the cabin we were renting.
Sunday morning I headed out to Keystone State Park to help with some trail maintenance organized by the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The rough and tough go getters were busy moving big rocks around, me, I always bring my loppers so I walk on the trails picking up litter and lopping off the limbs that might intrude on the hikers, runners, and bikers on the trail. That’s not a very manly job but hey I do what I can do.
The park is in the cross timbers region of Oklahoma which is dominated by rocks, lots of rocks and thin flinty soil so the trees don’t get very big. They can be very old but just not big. Many of the trees are post oaks and it is amazing the contortions they go through to get enough sunlight.
The rocks are amazing as well. Many of them are layers of soft sandstone and harder shales. A gazillion years ago all these rocks were at the bottom of the ocean. Since then through uplift and faulting the rocks are all this way and that way. Luckily the land is very poor for farming and ranching so the animals and plants that live on it are undisturbed for the most part.
Another one of the dancing trees that seem to sprout right of the rocks.
The area has small intermittent creeks running through it.
The trails were in great shape. I didn’t have a whole lot of lopping to do or really much of any litter to pick up. Most of the litter I picked up was near the parking lot.
I love the lichen that grows on trees. Despite what you may hear, in the more shady parts the stuff is on all sides of the trees. Northeast Oklahoma is so wet and humid you can’t count on telling north by lichens.
So I finished up after a few hours as did the more studly men. Many of them brought their mountain bikes and did a turn or two on the trails cuz that is what you do if you are a manly man. I went to go find a geocache.
I am doing the hiking posts backwards of our trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks earlier in October. Our first hike was actually to Taggert and Bradley Lakes of the Grand Tetons National Park. We have been looking forward to this trip for a long time and with our son away in college and doing well we had our opportunity so off we flew to Jackson, Wyoming.
Our first morning, right after breakfast, we packed our stuff up and went to see the National Park office just inside Jackson. I had a list of places we wanted to see and the person we talked to knew all about them and gave us all sorts of information that came in handy. My first pro-tip and Heather and I have done this a log is always stop at the Ranger Station, Visitor Center, or whatever and talk to a ranger. They have always been very helpful.
Pro tip number two is don’t act like a know it all. My sister actually took me on a hike to Taggert Lake last year but I didn’t say anything because I have found that doing that tends to shut the person up you are talking to and when I didn’t want to happen. It’s hard to learn anything while your mouth is moving. Yes sure, did I hear some repetitive stuff, yes I did (mainly because my sister had done a lot of research.)
I asked the Ranger if bear spray was recommended, and as expected I heard an emphatic yes. We talked about renting it and she gave us directions to a place within walking distance of where we were. So after talking with her, we packed up the maps and other info she gave us, walked over and got our bear spray and headed off to the trailhead.
And off we went. Lots less people than what I remember and we were pretty excited. Our heads were on a swivel though looking and listening for bears.
And what a great hike it was. Through quaking aspen groves turning golden and along Taggert Creek. Creeks up in the mountains make music as they flow and they have their own great aroma. And above it all were the majestic Tetons. I have never tired of looking at them.
We eventually got to Taggert Lake and like last year I was just floored with how crystal clear, calm, and beautiful it is
The Ranger had suggested that if we felt like it (we are obviously low altitude flatlanders I guess) to go over the ridge to Bradley Lake. So off we went. And getting over the ridge was exhausting. They say the Tetons are still growing. While I think the ridge was growing about fifty feet a minute as we went up. We eventually got up and over and went down to the lake. Another beautiful lake, oh hum. How many beautiful lakes can a National Park have?
Spectacular views of the mountains.
And then we hiked out. We were on the shady side of the slope so it was still snowy from earlier in the week.
Every once in a while on the way out I would stop and take a photo of the mountains behind us.
It always seems that the hike back to the trailhead seems a lot further than the hike in. We were tired and a little thirsty and hungry. We packed in a water and snacks. That is pro tip three. Always take water and snacks with you, especially if you are low altitude flatlanders like us.
We passed some Park Service stables and corrals. We were interested in horseback riding opportunities but they are none this late in the season.
The first day was the best weather day of our trip. It got steadily colder as the week went on but hey we knew that we would run into that but we still had some great adventures and I haven’t told them all to you yet.
Five and a half miles and three hours and one great day.
Have you ever visited the Grand Tetons National Park?
This past weekend I lucked out and got to for two short hikes into some woods. The first hike was at Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. I go there frequently and Saturday I loved it. It was overcast although warm. I love dark and moody. That doesn’t mean that I am a dark and moody person. At least I don’t think it does.
I was actually kind of happy. I had just been asked to join the Advisory Board of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and had accepted. TUWC are the group of people that got together when Simon Malls wanted to build an outlet mall on Turkey Mountain (of all places!!!!) and got the community outraged and ended up convincing Simon to go build their stupid outlet mall somewhere else. Talk about a David and Goliath situation.
Anyway, they are not a militant environment organization and are into positive things so I am honored to be part of the organization. The Advisory Board of course is mainly honorary but I plan on redoubling the volunteering and advocacy that I have been doing.
Turkey Mountain isn’t much of a mountain and it isn’t that big, about two miles by one mile, but it is special.
On Sunday, I went geocaching at some soccer fields at the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. Little known fact is that many soccer fields are bordered by woods that separate them from surrounding neighborhoods. These are forgotten pieces of woods by everybody little neighborhood kids and geocachers. The going is a little rough because there are no trails and lots of nettles, stickers, and thorns.
I only found one of the three geocaches I was looking for. One appeared to be beyond the park boundary behind a tall metal fence. A quick check on my iphone showed that it looked to be part of a private estate. I love geocaching and outlaw hikes but out and out trespassing on somebody’s home place? Count me out! So that was a big did not find on that one.
So I looked for three and found only this one. It is kind of like fishing though. If you caught fish every time you cast your line they wouldn’t call it fishing, they would call it catching! To me, finding caches is fun but the major fun is the looking. (If you want to know what geocaching is check this video.) Be assured there are two types of people in this world, those who are on fire about geocaching, and those who don’t get it.
Those edge pieces of woods are pretty neglected. I soaked my legs and shorts with DEET and was wearing a treated shirt but the thorns did a number on my legs. You know something, I don’t feel the cuts when they happen. I call it “suffering for my art.”
So I am chilled out this past week, two times in the woods. How was your weekend?
During our hike in southeast Oklahoma’s Beavers Bend State Park last week, we saw some beautiful purple colored berries. Consulting my iNaturlists App later on it looked like they were American Beauty Berries. They are native to the area and apparently everybody but me knew all about them.
They are also known as the French Mulberry. Deer eat the leaves, birds eat the fruit. Humans can eat the berries which appear in late Summer or early Fall. A few my instagram and facebook followers report they have made jam and jelly with the berries. They reportedly have a slight medicinal taste. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center reports that Native Americans made tea out of the berries, foliage, and roots to treat various ailments. The Foraging Texas web site has other information about the plant and its berries including a recipe to make jelly out of them. (If you are going to do that, please do not pick your berries at a State Park or any other similar place.)
I doubt that I will be eating any but I love the soft purple color. I think I have seen them on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. They stand out among the various shades of green.
Still another outing with my sister, Ellen, a seasonal Park Ranger at Yellowstone National Park. This time we went to Grand Tetons National Park south of Yellowstone Park. This is the same day that we hiked Trout Lake, a hike at Colter Bay and went to Mormon Row that I have posted about previously.
Taggert Lake is in the foothills of the Tetons and is a very scenic trek and not that long, about 3.5 miles round trip, and not that steep.
We passed Taggert Creek, the outlet of the Lake.
There were several people at the lake when we arrived including some teenagers who were swimming in the ice cold water. More power to them. What would the world be like without teenagers to remind everybody else how old we are. The air was still hazy from the forest fires way to the west but the mountains are still majestic.
Nothing nicer than an aspen grove in my book. I would like to come back when the leaves turn. Which should be relatively soon.
I love these kind of log fences they have in the mountain west. I don’t know what they call them but they are great. Also, to the right, that is my sister. She is a fast hiker and I had to hustle to keep up with her.
I still have a few more posts of my time with Ellen. I only spent three days with her but we saw lot!!
During my trip to Yellowstone Park earlier in August to see my sister, we took a hike up to Trout Lake. It was a hike that kicked my butt but was only 200 feet in elevation change. But it was worth the climb. The lake is absolutely gorgeous as are the the views from the lake.
There were a couple guys fishing from floats for cutthroat trout. One of them told us that he had caught (and released) eleven and they were gorgeous with deep rich colors. He was a little older guy and mentioned that the hard part was hauling all the gear up the trail from the road. I had a feeling that he lived not far from the Park. I am wondering if he stashes his gear nearby.
My fellow bloggers over the years have taught me the beauty of imperfection and change in plants. So I took lots of pics of plants in the midst of transition. Nature is beautiful in all its cycles.
Here is my sister Ellen, the Park Ranger. I felt guilty as we were out from 8 am to about 9 pm every day. She loves showing off Yellowstone Park. Check out her blog. She saw wolves today on a hike.
Here is my Garmin connect view of our outing. It doesn’t lie, like I might. It says 200 feet of elevation change, I’d of sworn 2000 feet. And 1. 4 miles long. Why, it was easily six miles, if not longer.
I am linking with Skywatch Friday today. Come join us! You don’t have a blog? You can link an Instagram photo!
I’m a little late with my post. I was going to write it Wednesday night along with setting up the Skywatch Friday meme and my brand spanking new Dell laptop with super duper quad core processor and solid state hard drive decided to not work, at all!!! As I thought about it though I remembered that Staples, where I bought it from, had given me a thumb drive which they said to keep track of because it was a recovery drive. So a few hours ago, I stuck it into my Dell and fired it up and it came up normally and asked if I wanted to restore my settings to factory, and I said yes and everything now works fine. What’s up? Can anybody tell me?
Saturday morning I didn’t have any obligations. Heather went off to teach her classes and the kid didn’t want to go walking or hiking or much of anything. So I went off to Turkey Mountain all on my lonesome.
A perfect trail, I love the dappled sun.
I like exploring Turkey Mountain with my family or friends but I am okay with it on my own as well. I get totally lost in the moment feeling the sun or shade on my face, the heat, humidity, what the ground feels like under my feet, other people up there and everything else. It is all just part of the whole. You can’t keep your head in the clouds though. You have to keep an eye on the trail so you don’t trip plus the copperheads are out and they are hard to spot.
An open air auditorium. The trees make a natural archway.
So I have a rough idea of what I want to do but I feel free to change it up as the mood strikes me.
Slow and steady down the this steeper than it looks and rocky trail.
Turkey Mountain is just so lush and green this early in the summer. Give it time under some hot sun and the green will lose its freshness and the ponds, creeks, and springs will dry up. It’s all part of the cycle.
It is a 17,000 acre former cattle ranch that the Nature Conservancy took over in 2000 and it is now the largest privately protected block of land in the Ozarks. It is almost a complete ecosystem of its own.
The Conservancy has reintroduced fire and is replacing the former bermuda meadows with tallgrass prairie to try and reestablish what the landscape looked like long ago. From the six mile drive across the property it looks like they are succeeding. The open meadows are very lush. The burned landscape really opens up the woods.
They reintroduced elk in the area in 2005. We got a glimpse of one through the trees but I did not get a decent photo of it. We also saw white tailed deer on our hike.
The only thing I wish is that they had more trails. We hiked two out of the three available and it was 2.3 miles. They packed a lot into that short distance with a variety of sights from ridge tops to creek bottoms, woods to savannas.
It was a good outing. We were the only ones there. The headquarters was closed but they had a great display on the area, the trails, where the trails were and how to get to them. The trails were spotless. No litter or vandalism or anything. Of course you really have to want to go there to get there. We drove across six miles of very bumpy and rocky road to get there.
Logan really liked the peacefulness of the site.
Check the link if you want to visit. They provide directions and all sorts of other information.