A shot from the front yard during a rainy interlude.
My wife and Kodi the pomeranian on a walk in the neighborhood greenbelt. I love the orangey sky.
I went on a bike ride on the Osage Prairie Trail in Osage County. This gas station was a location for the movie “The Outsiders” filmed way back in the 1980s. It has been restored by some volunteers and has a sign, fake gas pumps, paint inside and out and geocache. Which I found. One of my geocacher friends had a big role in the restoration.
A nearby church is having a revival!
The old railroad bridge on the trail is a favorite spot of mine for photos.
Switching Gears, this is a scene from Turkey Mountain on a recent hike.
And a shot from the RiverParks trails in Tulsa. I wasn’t hiking or biking, I was handing out gallons and gallons of coca cola and red bull to exhausted runners slogging through the Tulsa Ironman competion. 141 miles combined of swimming in open water, an over 100 mile bike ride, and a marathon distance run. It was a warm day. They had a 70 mile race for wimps.
I’m kidding about the half distance people being wimps. I couldn’t do it in a week. I admire their dedication. I have to admit though why people doing an endurance race would want red bull or coke.
The volunteer fuel was pizza. Unfortunately, my table was next to the truck so I ate more than I should have done.
Early in May this year I was invited to a small ceremony where Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness in Tulsa was going to join the Old-Growth Forest Network. Hmmm, never heard of them but sounds interesting. Besides, there was a hike included in the event. Sign me up!!
The Old-Growth Forest Network is an organization founded by biologist, turned author, turned activist, Joan Maloof who became alarmed at the loss of old-growth forests in the eastern USA. Very little old-growth forests remain in the east, less than 1% of the orginal forests and maybe about 5% in the west.
Old-growth forests are those that have been undisturbed and old trees are allowed to grow old and die. I found out that old dead snags can provide habitat for up to 300 different species. The Old-Growth Forest Network is trying to find and designate at least one publicly owned tract of land in counties, that can contain such forests. They estimate that is about 2370 counties. Turkey Mountain is the 199th such forest to be designated and only the second in Oklahoma.
So the dignitaries made their speeches and a plaque was handed out.
I borrowed it for a closeup. And then we went on a hike. It was about a mile and we got to the location of the oldest tree on Turkey Mountain. I forget what kind of tree it is but the dendrologists say it got started in 1774. They only tested thirty some trees based on their experience of where the oldest trees would be. They said, rocky land on steep slope where logging is difficult is the best bet. So it is likely that there are older trees on Turkey Mountain.
True confessions, my original photo wasn’t very good so I went back recently and got this video. The tree is kind of old and bent and I couldn’t capture it in a still so I got this video. It’s not the prettiest or the biggest tree in the world but it is kind of special.
So it was a nice outing. I got to learn something and go on a hike. I’m always up for that.
This link is for the report on the event by one of Tulsa’s television station.
I bought one of Joan Maloof’s books. I got the kindle version because it is half the price of the paperback. I’ll let you know what I found out.
On a guided hike on Turkey Mountain, I was lagging behind the group (I like to lag) and found this butterfly. Google lens tells me that it is a Red Spotted Purple butterfly. Other resources say Red Spotted Purple Admiral. I don’t know, I just thought it was different.
An overhead view of the same butterfly.
I visited Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum and took a walk around the gardens. I saw this little pollinator working away, doing its thing.
And then a wasp looking critter working on these blooms.
And yet another pollinator, pollinating.
And a duck on the museum grounds. Do you suppose he snuck in without paying?
And they had sheep. I loved these sheep. They were on a secluded part of the grounds up until 2014 and then disappeared. They are back now in a more visible part of the grounds. There were lots of teenagers visiting the museum the day I was there and the sheep were a hit. Up to six or seven kids were sitting on them at a time. I just bided my time until they left to get this shot.
And then shift to our backyard. I was sitting on a bench reading and this downy woodpecker landed on a nearby branch and stayed for a little bit.
And going inside the house, Lizzie the cat spent a big part of a recent day with her tongue sticking out. Silly cat!!
And here’s the Kodi the Pomeranian puppy showing a little bit attitude during a training session.
And here he is at puppy school doing everything my wife asks of him. He’s a rock star at puppy school. When it is not his turn to do something he watches the other dogs and people closely. He’s taking it all in. I’m learning what it is like to have a dog smarter than I am.
About a week ago the RiverParks folks here in Tulsa announced that conditions were finally right and resources available to proceed with a long planned controlled burn on Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Park. They closed the park and their partners, the Oklahoma Forest Service executed the prescribed burn. They asked everybody to stay I did. I did cuz I am a rule follower, most of the time, but I went for a bike ride on the adjoining bike trails and took a few photos. And you could see a fire was going and the smoke was dispersing and I could just barely smell the smoke.
They reopened the mountain the next day and of course I had to go check it out and it was interesting. As advertised it was apparently a “cool fire” that just went along the ground burning dead grass, leaves, and underbrush.
I think that the area was only about 12 acres or so. None of the standing trees were damaged from what I can see and they were able to keep the fire contained tightly. They have to have the right combination of temperature, humidity, winds, and other factors to minimize the risk of the fire getting away from them especially in an urban area.
There was a lot of smoldering going on but the RiverParks people said that they were not worried about it as long as it was in the original burned area. The place smelled like Boy Scout campout.
The burns are done to clear out the understory and get rid of invasive species. It reduces the risk of unwanted forest fires by getting rid of “ladder species” vegetation that a wildfire can crawl to get the tree canopy. It’ll open the forest and provide better grazing for deer and opportunities for native trees like oaks to thrive. It’s all part of the Turkey Mountain Master Plan.
So I have heard of prescribed burns before but Turkey Mountain has another tool they are using. It is called “Mastication.” This is where they used machinery called brush shredders to mulch the underbrush and invasive species. I had never heard of this term before but they masticated a small area of Turkey Mountain a few weeks ago. I visited it right afterward when they reopened the area after the work was done. It really opened up the forest. I love the effect.
And with the reopening you could see how the old trails were not well designed and were just kind of drainage ditches. I think they are going to be working on new, more sustainable trails in the area soon.
I had never seen brush cutters in action before but I found this video. It’s kind of a fearsome process to watch but it sure yields great results.
The RiverParks people say that the effect on wildlife is minimal. Both controlled burns and mastication are slow enough that the animals can evade the area. Long term it will provide better habitat for them.
I think they are going to be doing more of these projects as time goes by. Yes, I’m losing some of the fun jungly areas of Turkey Mountain but it will be replaced by a more natural, wildlife friendly vegetation and trees.
About a week and a half ago, on a sunday on the final day of Oklahoma’s spring break I went to Turkey Mountain for a hike. Spring break means busy!! So I started at the very northwest end of Turkey Mountain at the YMCA. No crowds there!!! Just badge in, if you are a member, or pay a small day fee and go.
I saw more people than usual but many less than if I had gone to the main Turkey Mountain parking lots. The Y’s trails and Turkey Mountain’s interconnect.
I was looking for some structures built by the mountain bikers maybe about 20 years ago plus or minus. They made some pretty incredible biking structures. They are in ruins now.
Back in the day, Turkey Mountain was a no mans land. Did these guys and gals get permission and permits and submit plans and such. Nope they just brought a bunch of lumber out and built it, and experimented and modified as time went by. Them mountain bikers are a hardy bunch. When a call goes out for help on a trail work day they show up in droves ready to work. Hikers and trailrunners not so much.
I found a pipeline owned by one of my previous employers. Companies wouldn’t build in such a manner these days. Boring technology has got so good they would just bore under it. They now bore way under archeological sites now. Solves all sorts of problems with mitigation and such.
And then Pepsi Lake. Pepsi Bottling company had a bunch of truck chassis’s on the dam and Turkey Mountain people called and asked if they could move them and away they went in a couple of days. Nobody knows why they were there to begin with.
The Mexican Plum blooms were out.
From there I went just north to Mooser Creek. It forms the northern boundary of Turkey Mountain. The Turkey Mountain people say that Mooser Creek is how beavers get to and from Turkey Mountain.
So here is looking north from Mooser Creek. This used to be the main entrance to Turkey Mountain back in the day. I used to park there every now and the but Pepsi has kind of taken it over. This another mystery of Turkey Mountain. Nine years ago a couple hikers found a human skull right where I was standing to take this photo. The police said that it had probably been there two years or so. Whenever I am in this area I always expect that I’ll find a rib or something. Not today though.
What I did though was notice that the pipeline company had cleared their right of way on the south side of Mooser Creek headed east. So I walked down it. I had never been down that way before. First thing was I saw this bicycle basket hanging from a tree.
And evidence of busy beavers. The area was more expansive than I had thought. Lots of evidence of old homeless camps.
Got as far as I could go without swimming. The hairs on the back of my head were standing straight up and although it was a pretty scene I retraced my steps back.
Later on in the hike I went on the top of the cliffs. This is a photo of all the trucks at the Pepsi Bottling Plant. It is a huge facility.
And then later on passed again the deep hole in the ground with the camo ductwork coming out. Who knows what you would find down there. There have been other deep holes found on the mountain. Speculation is that people were digging for Spainish gold. Apparently there was a guy back in 70’s selling treasure maps.
And I found this downed electric pole out in the middle of nowhere. Way back when the mountain had small ranches and farms on it and a lot of oil wells. People lived up there and it had a quite an outlaw reputation with moonshine stills and such.
I also found this hole lined with rock. I have no explanation. It would take a lot of work to build this. Tulsa gets so much rain that any hole you dig is going to be quite muddy much of the year.
And right next to it was this foundation. I don’t have a clue what it is for.
And not far away found this thing that looked almost like a burial marker. I didn’t turn it over. I was afraid I would see an inscriptions kind of like, “Here lies the body of a nosey photoblogger..”
And then I went back to the Y. I only covered 2.9 miles but I saw a lot of stuff.
I was invited to a press conference a week or so ago. It was by the Tulsa River Parks Authority, the folks who manage the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area, to announce that they received a large grant ($2.1 million) from Oklahoma’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, (“TSET”) to build more trails on Turkey Mountain.
So Riverparks authority execs and TSET board members showed up along with some Tulsa County bigwigs as well as board members of the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. And of course the media was there with cameras and drones. So we had some short speeches and the ceremonial presentation of the oversize check. It was interesting and I’m all about more money for improvements such as trails for Turkey Mountain.
TSET is an interesting entity. It is funded as a result of a huge lawsuit that that Oklahoma and a bunch of other states filed against the tobacco companies back in the late 1990’s. There was a Master Settlement in 1998 where the four largest tobacco companies agreed to pay the states an annual fee. Oklahoma puts the money in a trust to fund various health related programs such as the trails at Turkey Mountain. Read the details here.
So after the presentations and the individual interviews RiverParks took everybody on a hike to look at the new staircase up the mountain.
It’s about 130 feet long with a 100 of vertical elevation. The tour only went up halfway. Then the all the VIP’s went back down the trail.
Me? I’m a retired guy, I came to the press conference with my hiking boots and water bottle. I went the rest of the way up and took a little hike.
Turned right at the top of the stairs and went a short way to an overlook over south Tulsa and the Arkansas River.
And then headed north for a short loop.
This Christmas tree is on the blue trail and yet has no blue ornaments! What’s up with that. I am going to remember to bring a sack and take all this down. Nothing ages faster than ornaments outdoors.
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.
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.