Taking a break for a shadow selfie late one afternoon while hiking on Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area.
During some free time that I had in September attending my 50th high school reunion in Albuquerque I made my way down to the Rio Grande River bosque to visit the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park. A bosque is the woodlands and land adjacent to riparian streams and rivers. I’ve only heard the term used in New Mexico. Bosque’s are rich in wildlife and plants and after being neglected for years are now being preserved and restored.
I lived in Albuquerque from 1971 until I graduated from college in 1977. The whole time I lived there I never visited the bosque. Part of the reason is geography. I lived in the northeast heights where it seemed most other so called Anglos lived. The north and south valley of the Rio Grande river was considered kind of rough territory to visit. It all seems kind of ridiculous to me now and I feel bad about missing a great opportunity.
I went to do some hiking a little bit of geocaching and mainly just explore and see what was there. There were several serious bird watchers in the park. You know, they have binoculars, notebooks, and cameras with big lens and they have infinite patience staying in one place for a long time before moving on. Hey I admire them but I am not temperamentally suited for such things. I like moving.
I found me a tiny little nanocache. There were others out there but they were off trail quite a ways and there all sorts of signs asking people to stay on the trails. I didn’t want to be “that guy.”
One could tell that they had used fire or other vegetation clearing method to open up the woods.
These big metal things are Jack Jetties or Kellen Jetties. The Corps of Engineers placed tens of thousands of these things all up and down the river. They are meant to stabilize the banks and keep the river in its channel. They, along with some dams, worked too well. The river never flooded into its floodplain rejuvenating the soil and drowning out invasive species. The Corps has removed many of the jetties and that has heled the bosque revive.
A big bird watching area is this pond right by the visitor center. They had a large hummingbird feeder that rotated over the pond and I’ve never seen so many hummingbirds. I couldn’t get a good angle on the hummingbirds but you can see the Sandia Mountains off far away. You can see them from all parts of town.
My walk took me right by the Rio Grande River a couple times. Here the river is on the far side of this “beach.”
And here, the river is right by the bank.
So I walked and moseyed about three miles and enjoyed myself very much. The park integrates with an extensive walking/biking trail that goes along the river for miles and connects several attractions. I would sure like to return and explore the area some more.
While in South Dakota in August for a family reunion, I had a little free time so I went to the nearby Big Sioux Recreation Area near Sioux Falls.
It’s a sizeable state park featuring a lot of different terrain. River bottoms, prairie, forest, valleys and hills.
It has a moderate entrance fee and like it seems everything else in the Midwest, is impeccably maintained.
I went their for the hiking and geocaching.
I had the place to myself during the weekday that I was there.
The Big Sioux River winds through the park. Tell the truth the Big Sioux River seems to everywhere in my family history. Our family church is near the Big Sioux River and many of my relatives were baptized in it. It runs through Dell Rapids where many of my family live and where the reunion is held. It is one of those long winding rivers that seems to be everywhere.
South Dakota is a surprising state. My vision is that it is flat but for a flat place it has lots of hills and valleys and even mountains and forests. Think Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.
It has lots of big majestic trees.
And high hills with great views and skiesl
I didn’t spend much time there. Went on a little hike, found a few geocaches and took some photos.
Big Sioux Recreation Area is relatively unknown gem of a place. I’ll be back.
I’m linking with Skywatch Friday
Lots of welcome shade from an intense New Mexico sun on the Aldo Leopold Trail in the Rio Grande River bosque in Albuquerque.
I visited Springerville, Arizona for a high school reunion. I had some free time so I went on a hike on a trail built and maintained by the Arizona Wildlife Department along the Little Colorado River as part of the Becker Wildlife Area. I saw lots of birds who were too active and in too much cover for me to get photographs.
I did capture this fuzzy photo of what might be a swallow of some sort. I got it posted on iNaturalist and they are pretty good about figuring out what the various critters are. Update! The consensus from iNaturalist is that this is a Northern Rough Winged Swallow.
There was some private land adjacent to the trail. I got this far off shot of what might a longhorn cow. It was in a pasture with some angus cows.
This section of the Little Colorado River is managed for trout fishing and they have done a lot of work to stabilize the banks. Here is a weir put up to divert some of the water for irrigation. Downstream of the weir was a deep pool and it seemed a very popular spot for trout fishing.
The river also has several beaver dams so there are pools above the dams and running water below.
Our family lived in this area back in the late 60’s early 70’s. My brother and I liked to go fishing in the river upstream of this area. We didn’t catch any fish but the ice cold water felt good on our feet on hot summer days.
They didn’t have these cool riverside trails and bridges back then.
The trail out and back was only about a mile long but it was an enjoyable walk. A fellow hiker I encountered said that a rattlesnake was seen on the part of the trail I was headed towards. I thanked him for the information and went on my way. This part of Arizona is thick with rattlesnakes. We saw several on our property when we lived here and my brother and I felt duty bound to kill them all. I leave all snakes alone now. This is where they live and they have their role in nature. Anyway, I didn’t see it. I’m sure it saw me!
I’m linking up with Saturday’s Critters.
A week and a half ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, I went on a hike at Oxley Nature Center’s North Woods area. I love the North Woods area because it is beautiful, the trails are well maintained and hardly anybody besides me goes there even on a nice weekend afternoon.
It’s kind of a walking meditation.
Be careful while you are meditating and walking though. This thing will give you a headache.
The staff and volunteers are always tweaking and improving things on the trails.
It’s got water views and benches.
And what I call tree tunnels cutting through the woods. I love to come here when it is windy like it was on my hike. The woods are thick so there is no wind on the ground but you can hear the wind as it moves through the tops of the trees.
Later on in the spring, the reflections will be prettier.
I was hoping to see deer, not today!
And the end.
I try and go on all the trails during my visits to the North Woods. That entails taking some of the trails twice. That’s alright.
I am linking with Skywatch Friday.
One of my favorite hiking spots close to Tulsa is Lake Bixhoma. The lake is a water supply lake for the city of Bixby and it has some very rugged land around it. I’ve never circumnavigated the lake because the trail is rugged and the upriver side of the is almost always under water.
The first bit of trail is actually paved. There is actually picnic grounds and restrooms and such but all that is abandoned now. I am thinking that part of the reason for the abandonment is rockfalls off the cliff. Here is recent fall.
Still the first part of the trail is walkable.
Here is some of the abandoned infrastructure.
After the picnic grounds the trail is no longer paved although still not too bad.
And then it got very technical. Too me technical means lots of rocks.
Got to the upper end of the lake. Can’t cross here!
So I followed the creek up and found a couple of possible crossing spots. If it hadn’t been so cold and if I hadn’t been alone and over a mile from the trailhead, then I could have done one of these, maybe. About here is where I saw my first snake for the year. Some sort of water snake that slipped into the water quickly as I approached. I don’t think it was anything I would worry about.
Here is the other crossing. Going further upstream was out of the question because it is private property. So I turned around and headed back.
I am always amazed at the stuff I see on trails. What in the world is the story behind this? I can only guess.
I hate out and back hikes so when I came to this fence corner and saw a trail going up the hill, off I went. I figured I knew where I would be going. Famous last words right.
I found this trail sign that I couldn’t read.
The trail got a little rough.
I found me some spectacular trees though. And I made it back to the car. My shortcut saved me about 0.2 miles I figured.
So kind of a short hike but I had a good time. When things dry out a little more, and get warmer, I’ll be back. I will probably try the other way around the lake.
The skies were mainly gray I know but I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.
Went on another hike on Turkey Mountain. Right at the trailhead I saw this handsome bad boy. A Toyota Tacoma pickup heavy duty everything including a snorkel for the engine, beefed up bumper up front with extra lighting, tires that cost a mint. A very nice rig. And look the tires have a little dirt on them. Most overlanders I see are spotless.
The skies were gray on Sunday afternoon. That’s okay, I’ll take whatever kind of sky there is as long as the trails are not muddy.
Turkey Mountain has lots and lots of rocks!!
And lots of ponds. I learned something last year during a wildlife tour. The ponds are stocked every year with fish, which is great. Also, there is an active beaver population on the mountain but they are not spread out to all the ponds. They pretty much stay at one pond until they eat all the fish and then they travel overland to another pond to eat its fish. For some reason I think that is hilarious.
I used a combination of the new fancy trails and the some of the smaller, less known legacy trails. I was kind of hoping that I would see some deer but I did not.
Here is a smaller trail with some heavy duty rock armoring to prevent erosion. I think the people that run Turkey Mountain are shifting over to some smaller trails to accommodate those of us who like to travel on foot.
The trees are wild without their leaves. I love the trees in any of the season.
Here is a new windy trail that I encountered while heading back to the parking lot. I got a ways then oops, I found out it was not open yet. My bad. I try and follow all the rules.
Back at the parking lot at the trail head. Everybody had gone home and it started misting. I love weather like this.
Here is my route. The inner loop is where I hoped to find deer. I’ve learned that when there are not too many people, the deer will move north along the center of the circle. Not that day though!!
All told, despite the gray skies, I had a lovely time.
I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.
Earlier this week, I wanted to go hiking on Turkey Mountain but decided to do it a little differently. I started from the Herman and Kate Kaiser YMCA on the northwest side of the mountain. I’ve been in lots of races there and a few events but never just parked in their parking lot and went hiking from their trails (which intersects with all the other trails on the mountain.)
So I checked in at the lodge and headed off by Lake Logan and the dam that forms the lake.
I got a nice view of the lodge across the lake.
And headed down the faint trail to the northl.
It eventually merged into the bigger trails that the Riverparks Authority is installing.
I always love the wild trees on Turkey Mountain.
The new trails are designed for and popular with the mountain bikers. Lots of up and down and side to side.
Eventually I got off the new trail and onto a legacy trail. This part of the park was cleared out by the previous owners when they were trying to get Simon Outlet Malls to buy it. By the way, Simon Malls announced, for the the third or fourth time, that they are restarting construction on the site they bought when they encountered so much opposition to buying a piece of Turkey Mountain.
Got to my destination on 61st street. The last work day we had a group went and made a small length of trail to get to the street so that the bikers could go through there, onto the streets for a ways, and then to another park with brand new trails. The only thing better than trails is interconnected trails is my motto. And then it was time to head back.
I came across this scene which is wall about what an Urban Wilderness means. That is downtown Tulsa off in the distance.
Part of an old road. Turkey Mountain used to have an oil field on it along with farms, ranches, and moonshiner stills.
A sign that we are back on the Y property.
Uh, don’t ask me!
And I had a good hike, about two and a half miles. But one more thing.
We had a full moon and clear skies!! The Full Snow Moon.
And that’s a wrap. I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.
The other day I ventured out to Oxley Nature Center. It’s not as popular as Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness but Oxley has its charms. No mountain bikes for one thing, flat trails for another. And lots of water, even during a drought like we are having now.
To me Oxley is defined by the water in its lakes, streams, rivers, marshland and ponds.
So if you like the sky and reflections, you are in the right place. Even if the skies are gray and overcast like they were the day of my visit.
I actually came looking for otters. The staff tells me that the otters have taken over an old beaver lodge and the best time to see them is around 6 am. Well, that isn’t happening. So I take my chances during the day every once in a while.
I love Oxley’s woods and water and proximity to town and its many trails.
And opportunities to take photos.
I even found a geocache on my visit. Finding it was easy but you have to sign the paper log for it to count. This one had a “field puzzle” to solve. They had nine bottles of scents and the combination to the log involved identifying three of the scents and putting them in the correct order. That took a lot of time, for me. But I eventually figured it out even though my sniffer got worn out. Good thing it wasn’t summer when I would be wearing scented bug spray. I loved it, such an original concept for a geocache.
So I had a good time in what seems sometimes like my own private forest preserve. Do you have a secluded place you can go to to get away?
I’m linking with Skywatch Friday