Tag Archives: Hiking

Skywatch Friday – Hiking the Grand Tetons National Park to Taggert and Bradley Lakes

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.

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My bride Heather

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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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We eventually got to Taggert Lake and like last year I was just floored with how crystal clear, calm, and beautiful it is

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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?

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Spectacular views of the mountains.

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And then we hiked out. We were on the shady side of the slope so it was still snowy from earlier in the week.

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Every once in a while on the way out I would stop and take a photo of the mountains behind us.

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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.

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We passed some Park Service stables and corrals. We were interested in horseback riding opportunities but they are none this late in the season.

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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?

I am linking with Skywatch Friday

Our World – In the Woods

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

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.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

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.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

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.

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Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness

Turkey Mountain isn’t much of a mountain and it isn’t that big, about two miles by one mile, but it is special.

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Broken Arrow Sports Park

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.

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Tree with a frog face mocking me for not finding a nearby geocache.
Broken Arrow Sports Park

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.

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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.

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#SufferingForMyArt – don’t pity me, totally self inflicted.

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?

I am linking with Our World Tuesday, come join us!!

Our World – American Beauty Berries

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.

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Callicarpa americana

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.)

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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.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday, come join in!

Skywatch Friday – A Hike to Taggert Lake

Taggert Lake (2 of 5)

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. 

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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.

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We passed Taggert Creek, the outlet of the Lake.

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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.

Aspen Grove-Edit

Nothing nicer than an aspen grove in my book. I would like to come back when the leaves turn. Which should be relatively soon.

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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!!

I am linking with Skywatch Friday.

Skywatch Friday – Hike to Trout Lake at Yellowstone Park

Trout Lake Reflections-Edit

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

A Hike on Turkey Mountain – Meditation in Motion

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I found me a gnarled old tree. I love gnarly.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Relive ‘Morning Meditation in Motion on Turkey Mountain’

I can walk an hour or two and it seems like five minutes.

J.T. Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve

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Sunday, son Logan and I ventured off into deep eastern Oklahoma to the JT Nickel Family Nature and Wildlife Preserve northeast of  the town of Tahlequah.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Logan really liked the peacefulness of the site.

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Check the link if you want to visit. They provide directions and all sorts of other information.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday

Our World – First Hike of 2018 on Turkey Mountain

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Son Logan and I went on a hike on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Wilderness Area last Friday. It was cold to start but sunny.  The sunny part of it made for some great shadows.

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I’m still recovering from my knee injury so I picked an easy trail. The upper yellow trail from the south to north. When I run I like to take this route to start because it is a slight downhill the whole way and I feel like areal runner. No running this time but it was still pretty easy.

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We found us a tree. Turkey Mountain is full of trees. There is plenty for everybody so if you come here feel free to claim one. Please leave it though. Take all the pictures you want and visit anytime!

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The upper yellow trail passes some moonscape type terrain.

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We also found an old oil well. Turkey Mountain used to have lots of wells back in the day and there are reminders around everywhere.

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We also found this shelter made of branches. It is at the highest point on Turkey Mountain. I am not sure who used it. I doubt it was a homeless person. The surrounding area had no trash or debris at all. Most homeless camps are pretty messy. Plus most homeless camps are near places where they can get water and food. This place is a pretty arduous hike for a homeless person. So it is a mystery to me. I have a feeling somebody came up and camped here. In my evening runs on the mountain I have seen several people leaving the parking lot with camping gear. Camping is forbidden but I am not the camping police is my motto.

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By the time we got back to the parking lot, it was a lot warmer. Plus if the hike is downhill all the out, then it is uphill all the way back. Plus I decided to pick a little tougher trail with more rocks.  We were ready to get home and down some cold water.

I am linking with Our World Tuesday, come join the party!!

Skywatch Friday – Fall is Falling

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My wife’s cousin’s wife, Cheri Lou took this photo at the ranch in western Oklahoma. I love the rolling hills, grassy rangelands, and the big skies out there. The people are great also.

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Where we live in northeastern Oklahoma is more forest land and a lot wetter. Son Logan and I went on a little jaunt at Tulsa’s Oxley Nature Center. Lots of wildlife in Oxley. Lots of water also and it is right underneath the main approaches to our local airport and is right next to the police gun range so it can get kind of noisy but I love it.

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There are several sizeable lakes and ponds and it is known as a good birding site. I love birds but I don’t have the patience to put in the work.

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Here you go, any photoblogger worth his salt has the obligatory first red leaf of Autumn. I think this might be my first red leaf ever.

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This gave me a start! Don’t worry, it is a rubber snake placed near a geocache. At least I think it was near a geocache. I looked for it and didn’t find it. I lifted a rock and found me a real snake. Just a tiny little garter snake but I decided, enough is enough.

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Saturday I had some time so I went looking for some urban caches in Tulsa. Found one near the Saba Grotto. I think it has some relation to the Masons. There were a few instagram pics with Saba Grotto. it looks like a big man cave. They have a pretty active facebook page and they seem to have all sorts of benefits and events. Who would have thought? Stuff like that intrigues me. People don’t seem to join clubs any longer. They belong to “affinity groups” where they do people who have similar interests but is a lot looser. Anyway, one reason I love geocaching is that I find new places and learn new things.

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Another cache I found was on a freeway interchange. Talk about hiding something in plain sight. Lots of cars whizzing by while I figured out where the cache was.

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I am still training for the Tulsa Run 15K the last weekend of this month. Last week I ran 9 miles after work and I actually felt pretty good. Cooler weather and a hydration vest works wonders. I had already signed up for the race and went ahead and signed up for the Route 66 Half Marathon in November. This weekend I am running 11 miles on Sunday morning. At least that is my plan. Check back later. Plans change.

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A side benefit is running is the opportunity to take photographs. A great deal of my running (and a great deal of my photos) are along the Arkansas River. Tulsa really is a beautiful town. Of course I love the gritty west side of Tulsa where all the industry and refineries are.

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In the Fall the skies get a lot more interesting. This is a sunset photo looking east with my back to the sun.

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I’ll finish up with a selfie with a combuster at a waste treatment plant on the river. I was halfway on my nine mile run and I was really happy with how good I felt. Cooler weather, a hydration vest, and Metallica on the earbuds works wonders. That is about as big a smile as you will ever get out of me.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday

Skywatch Friday – A Family Walk at Oxley Nature Center

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Last Friday the family decided to go for walk at Tulsa’s Mary K. Oxley Nature Center. One of the best kept secrets in Tulsa. Acres and acres of trails, woods, marsh, lakes, and meadows and hardly anybody ever visits it.

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Well somebody had been visiting. We saw a few of these in the park but they didn’t look like they had been used.

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I love the big and small ponds, lakes, and streams on the property.

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It looked like some beavers had been hard at work.

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A sign needs either replacing or fetched.

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A nice surprise were some pelicans. They were cruising about. The geese seemed a little put off their visitors.

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Heather taking in the view near the photo blind.

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Yep, I’m a lucky guy is what I think.

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Heather and our gentle giant of a son, Logan checking out some storm damage from last year.

And here is our route. About 3 miles and a good mix of woods, open land, and water. We saw nobody else during our three miles.

I’m linking with Skywatch Friday this week.