Lots of welcome shade from an intense New Mexico sun on the Aldo Leopold Trail in the Rio Grande River bosque in Albuquerque.
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.
The forecast for Tuesday was snow starting late in the morning. I decided to skip my yoga class and go for a hike while the hiking was good. Turkey Mountain had closed their trails though and so I went over to nearby Bales Park to see if I could find the future connector pathway between Bales and Turkey Mountain. The two parks are separated by a freeway US 75 but I heard the highway department was going to put in a “shelf” or something on an overpass that could be used for a trail.
Bales Park was empty, one other vehicle when I got there so I took off on their recently constructed trail. Bales has some of the most picturesque trees in Tulsa. I just love their shapes. The sky is kind of bleh but that’s okay. It is what it is.
I love the Bales Park wicket. I can see future trail runs here with maybe this the start and finish gate.
I meandered up the Ridge Trail that runs parallel to US 75.
I got to the vista at the top where three trails converge. You can also get a view of downtown Tulsa way off in the distance. I actually felt sorry for my former coworkers who are slaving away down there making sure that we have enough energy to power the economy, and provide a return to the shareholders but mostly to keep those pension payments coming!!
So I headed north along this old road, not on the designated trail. True Confessions. I was looking for a way to cut under US75 where it meets I44. But I ended up having to go off trail.
I got to me destination. The Feds are financing the construction of a new interchange at US 75 and I 44. All of Oklahoma’s congressmen are hurrahing the project. What they don’t say is that they all voted against it. But enough of that.
So I found where the new trail cuts under US 75. It’s almost like a road. Really nice.
So I got over to the other side of US 75 where the YMCA is and followed a trail there. They have put a disc golf course up. YMCA’s are multitaskers!! It looks like they leased a site for a billboard at the same location.
I couldn’t tarry so I didn’t spend too much time on the east side of US 75 so I doubled back across the trail under the freeway.
And back to Bales Park. I love the trees there. I hardly ever see anybody at Bales Park. On Martin Luther King’s birthday, Turkey Mountain’s parking lots were jam packed. My wife and I went to Bales Park and didn’t hardly see anybody the whole time we were there. I saw literally nobody today.
Lots of gray sky and beautiful trees though. That’s Turkey Mountain in the background.
So I see how they are going to connect Bales Park and Turkey Mountain via the YMCA. The freeway interchange construction is at a pause right now and I don’t know when they are starting back up but I don’t see the trail connections being made until the interchange is complete. Obviously I went across and anybody else can but there is really no trails to connect to on either side. Not everybody is going to be willing to overland it like I did.
Here is a map of my adventure. Only about two miles but a million miles of fun.
And a little video.
And a slick map from Garmin showing my travels. If you don’t map your adventures did they really even happen?
It’s Skywatch Friday time. My skies are gray but hey can’t all be blue skies or dramatic storm clouds. Gray clouds are part of the as well.
I see this sculpture ever year end. I always pay my real estate taxes at the last of the year and this sits right outside the Tulsa County Courthouse.
A week or two later I went hiking on Turkey Mountain. My outside time had been limited by a medical procedure on my face (I’m fine, really) where I had to stay out of the sun for a week, bad weather, my wife caught the flu, we got a new puppy, and my brother got covid. So things are looking up and I went outside in some sunny but nippy weather.
The trail builders on Turkey Mountain are putting in a long staircase from the top of the mountain down to the lower parking lot (don’t be too impressed, that’s about 335 feet, but still a big deal in Tulsa. I had to wibble wobble my route. The powers that be ask us not to walk on muddy trails, especially new trails, to keep them getting eroded so I kind of had to improvise a route.
On my route was this trail from the lower parking lot to the top of the mountain. It is bidirectional for people on foot and uphill only for mountain bikers. It looks like a hard go for them but hey they are tough.
And then here is a recently opened downhill only trail for intermediate level mountain bikers. No hikers allowed either way. The bikers fly down the hill and it is wise to keep people on foot out is what I think.
Here is the signage warning people of what they are getting into going down the trail. My modest biking skills and my bike with no suspension will not be on this trail or any other trail on Turkey Mountain. Gravity is not my friend!
And I found a cedar tree somebody decorated for Christmas. They are kind of fun especially if they take the decorations down soon after the holidays. Most people do, some don’t and these ornaments do not age well over time. They are not really “Leave No Trace” compatible.
Just a tad shy of 3 miles. A nice little outing after having been inside for weeks.
And guess, what I saw some flagging from the contractor building the trails. They are going to build more trails. More, more, more is my motto. When it comes to trails.
I am taking more skywatch photos from my front porch. Here is a recent one.
And here is another one.
And here is one of our house from the street. Yes I used a filter. I was trying to emphasize the lights.
On Tulsa’s Turkey Mountain, a bright sun also means dark shadows.
I decided to go ahead and do a video of the start. After I was done videoing I had to loop around the timer’s truck and across the starting line myself.
A treat for me on this race is that most of it was done on the brand new sustainable trails constructed in the last year. Especially nice was the new trail from the lower parking lot up to the upper level of Turkey Mountain. Those old trails have gotten worse and worse over the years. It got so bad that I hadn’t used them in a long time.
The new trails are like a super highway through the woods. Another benefit is the chances of getting ticks and chiggers from the grass is way less. Also it is easier to pass other people and there is lots of room for both bicyclists and hikers/runners on the trail.
Pretty soon I had passed a small bunch of people and was way behind the pack. That’s alright, I was looking for a great hike through the woods. My running days are over. I do admit though on the smooth slightly downhill stretches I did trot a bit. Probably not over three or four hundred yards total.
And here we split off from the superhighway headed to the left and headed right to one of the legacy trails.
And up the rock garden after we turned south. I got an impromptu invite to a private geological tour of Turkey Mountain last week. I learned that the trail above is caused by alternating layers of shale and sandstone. As the shale layers dissolve and wash away the brittle sandstone breaks and falls down forming a kind of steps. Yep, the steps are ankle breakers!!
I also learned the top of Turkey Mountain is 300 million years old and has been submerged and re-emerged under a huge inland sea five times by a combination of tectonic and weathering forces. The guy showed us rocks that used to be sand on a beach and lots of little fossilized shellfish embedded in the rocks. It was amazing.
Enough geology for now. We made the loop and headed down the superhighway to the finish. All I can say is that I finished vertically. I didn’t place in my age group. Last year I finished first in my age group. Oh well I finished.
It was a great race, it was easy to register and they had lots of volunteers helping out. Timing was by Tatur, the best in the business in my opinion. They had lots of snacks and water for the participants and I think everybody left happy I know I did.
They didn’t have beer this year so I had one at home later on. In fact I might have had more than one, I’m not sure. They had tshirts but they are mailing me mine as I registered a little too late to actually get a tshirt at the event.
I’ll be back next year, here is my post from the 2021 Tess Trail Run.
A big thank to the Tristesse Grief Center, their staff and volunteers who helped, Tatur Racing, and my fellow racers.
I am linking to My Corner of the World. Check it out!.
Last week after walking the new trails at Bales Park in west Tulsa, I drove ovder to nearby Lubell Park to check out their new trails. Their trails new to me but they had the grand opening on the new trails in October 2021. Before that they were hand cut trails by volunteers. The new trails were put in by the professionals at Rogue Trails out of Arkansas. The same people working on the Bales Park Trails.
I’ve only been to Lubell one time before to find a geocache. What Lubell was mainly known for up until the new trails was the number and aggressiveness of their ticks.
Ticks no more on these big wide, sustainable, cool trails. At least I didn’t get any (I use tick spray whenever I am in the woods.)
The trails are pretty cool. The project was sponsored by a local bicycle club and so the trails kind of cater to mountain bikes but they are perfectly hikable. These are the only mountain bike trails that I have seen in Tulsa that I think I would be okay with riding my bike on. Smooth, no steeps ups and downs, and doable turns. The new trails at Turkey Mountain and Bales are pretty cool but I don’t have the skillz necessary to ride them successfully. At my age, gravity is not friend! Can I get an Amen?
And they have some interesting features such as this shelter.
These look like thrones to me. Lubeell is integrated into the surrounding neighborhood such that some people have gates in the fences that open into the park. That is where I found these.
And they had several cairns or stacked rocks. I used to think they were cool but they don’t really go with a leave no trace vibe. They are not much of a problem in Oklahoma but some parts of the country are getting overrun with these and are technically illegal in National Parks.
The east boundary fence appears to be a deer proof fence. I noticed a deer feeder on the other side. Notice the greenery. It is lespedeza, a noxious plant introduced to the United States from Asia in the 1890 and was widely used as a cover on non-productive soils. The problem is that it takes over and deer and livestock won’t eat it. I hate the stuff.
Moving on, near the end of the trail there are some nice obstacles mainly for bikes. I walked the little maze above.
More fun for bicycles.
And Tulsa has these things all over town. They are tornado sirens and many of them seem to be too big for the wooden pole that supports it and they are bending over at ever increasing angles. They send out three types of alarms. Tornados and chemical releases get a three minute monotone. Then there is a three minute wavering tone used only for nuclear attacks. So if you happen to be in Tulsa and those goes off, best just to kiss yourself goodbye. I remember in grade school in the early 1960’s we were told to get under out desks in case of nuclear attack. The third signal is a three minute high low tone. That is a flooding alert.
Sorry I digress, again. Here is a short video showing my hike at Lubell.
I’m linking with Skywatch Friday – go check it out!!
Earlier this week I went out to Turkey Mountain to see if the Monarch Waystation needed watering. It didn’t so I decided to go for a walk on Turkey Mountain.
Instead of going to the upper parking lot for my walk I started from the lower parking lot. I haven’t done that much in the last several years because of the dismal state of the trails going up hill but I was told that that had changed and sure enough very soon I saw the old trail was closed and a new trail was open. And it was lovely, instead of going straight up the hill it goes up gently with a bunch of switchbacks. They don’t have it open all the way to the top yet but it is far enough where you avoid the really bad parts of the old trail.
So then I just took off when I got to the top.
Found these trees, I can’t tell if they are fighting or dancing. What do you think?
On our last big work day one of the things on the list was sowing grass seed on the back side of the switchbacks to keep them from eroding. The grass is doing great.
On the far northern end of the area I came across this ancient dump. Turkey Mountain spent many years as an oilfield and there are several dumps from that era. There are no plans on cleaning them up because they are an archeological resource, or so I am told.
And found an old power pole knocked down.
And here is a video of the route I took.
Unplugging is a movie that was shot in northeast Oklahoma and had at least one scene shot on Turkey Mountain. I love the visuals as northeast Oklahoma is beautiful, but I have to tell you this is not a great movie. Eva Longoria is in it and I was shown the very rock where she decided she needed to take a nap on right in the middle of shooting.
And now we are switching gears. Wednesday son, Logan and I went downtown to see the Tulsa Drillers minor league team play the Corpus Christi Hooks. I love daytime baseball and I thought I would be seeing lots of such games upon retiring. Well this is the first game I’ve been to in three years. I enjoyed myself immensely. I even think Logan liked it and he is not a baseball fan.
We were seated on the first base side and I saw this huge mural just outside the left field fence. It is a giant mural of Jacke Robinson. The player who broke the color barrier in professional baseball back in 1947. It’s a very fitting memorial. First, ONEOK Field is in the Greenwood area that was demolished by the Tulsa Race Massacre back in the 20’s. The worst race riot ever in America. Second, Robinson played for the Los Angeles Dodgers which is the parent organization of the Tulsa Drillers. The mural was installed last year right before the centennial of the massacre.
When the game ended Logan and I headed over to get a better look. It is really big and really nice.
And finally, another jigsaw puzzle that I completed on my ipad. They are quite addicting.
Several days ago I was on Turkey Mountain checking out the Monarch Waystation. I water it when needed but it hasn’t needed a drink in weeks with all the rain and cool weather we have been having. I sowed some native prairie seeds a couple months ago and I was trying to see if any of them were coming up.
I don’t know a thing about wildflowers, and it looked like a bunch of weeds coming up to me. I guess that may be what some people call wildflowers. It may take a few more weeks and somebody who knows what they are looking to see if we are successful or not.
And then I ventured down the paved path and hung a right on the dirt road to the redbud grove. It is beautiful a whole hillside covered with redbuds. There are lots of the trees around town but I don’t know of any that are all together like this.
And then I ventured on the new Lo Chi trail. The old one was cool but kind of frustrating because it was an out and back along the base of the east side of the Mountain. I hate out and backs so I would do what other people did, climb up the side of the mountain to another trail. I’m too old for that foolishsness now.
And there is no need, the trail builders have made a loop out of with all sorts of cool switchbacks and other features to make it fun. You can enter and exit at different spots from the paved trail. Loops are fun, out and backs are boring.
So back on the paved trail I took a shot of the railroad tracks on the base of Turkey Mountain, next to the Arkansas River. They have only one customer now, a big Kimberly Clark Plant. So every once in a while, you can see a freight trail lumbering slowly along these rails. I am not a railroad expert at all but I would not think that these sketchy rails, ties, and roadbed could handle much of a load.
And then fast forward to Tulsa’s Woodward Park. The flowering is disappointing this year for whatever reason but one could find nice groupings here and there.
So it was worth going to but I wouldn’t travel far to see it.
The tulips looked nice in the overcast late day. I think they are almost at the end.
Tuesday we had dramatic skies in Tulsa so I made this low key photo.
Monday I rode my back on the RiverParks trails. My north turnaround was the Route 66 Sign Park. I took photos and then used the circular app on my iphone to twist them on top of themselves. I love this kind of stuff.
I did another one and it looked like a hot air balloon.
And I have been doing more jigsaw puzzles on my ipad. I love it. So these are not my photos.
I loved this one but it was booger bear. I worked from the inside out. I started at the steering wheel and moved outward. I put on the edge pieces as I found them but I didn’t stress about it.
I loved this one. It was a lot easier with the brightly colored sail and the stratified colors. On this one I started with the sails and the bright green sea.l
So that is it this week for Skywatch for me. I’m linking with Skywatch Friday.
Monday was shirtsleeves weather here in Tulsa and I went to Turkey Mountain for a hike and see the progress on the trails. In the above pic, if you squint really hard you can see a small tracked backhoe working on a new trail. I gave them room and went the other way.
The new trails, are wide, and rock free, for the most part. They are built to be kind of “flowy” so there is gentle bends from side and side and up and down to enhance the experience for moutainbikers.
The new trails are open to everybody except horseback riders. They are trying to get the trails packed down really hard. They have a bunch of signage to encourage people to share the road. The mountain bikers love the trails and can get going pretty fast. So far I have not had a problem with bikers not being polite.
The new trails seem to be encouraging more people to go deeper into the mountain park than before especially families. The old trails were very rocky and technical and not family friendly at all. So people are getting away from the parking lot it seems.
But even though there were a lot of people on a sunny afternoon, there was lots of room for everybody.
There was some recently opened new trail on the cliffs overlooking the Arkansas River. It is nice having professionally designed switchbacks. Before this, the vertical trails just went straight up the hill and given all the rain we have the trails turned into gullies quickly.
So it was a good day for chilling out.
The RiverParks staff likes to have fun with the visitors. They are also continuing to build more trail and I expect there will be networks and loops of professionally designed and constructed trail reaching deep into the park. I’m loving it so far!!
A brief video of my adventure Monday.
Wednesday night, Russia invaded the Ukraine is a puzzling power play. Lots of people have died already. Earlier this week I got a postcard from somebody in Berlin showing the Berlin Airlift back in 1948 or so. It’s so ironic that here we are over seventy years later dealing with Russian aggression in Europe.
I’m linking with Skywatch Friday. Come join in!!