The Price of the Hiking Payoff
The Price of the Hiking Payoff
I believe I’ve said around seventy-two times that I am going to Zion National Park next month. Originally I was only going to do a couple of easy jaunts but have since decided to do Angel’s Landing. This is because I am kinda afraid and I want to do scary-to-me things. It is also because it’s not the easiest of hikes. Getting that hiking payoff after white-knuckling safety chains for a few hundred feet will be a lovely sense of accomplishment for yours truly.
I’m working on it. I take a hike a week, sometimes two, for over a mile or two. I’m running three times a week but that is getting hard as my knees are not cooperating. And I think the hikes are better conditioning than the running but that may just be because I like hiking. I hate running except for the afterglow. That’s real. I don’t think it’s a runner’s high per se but it is a veritable flood of endorphins that make me feel invincible and alive.
But the hikes? I get the same rush with good views and pics and memories to boot. I can only imagine Angel’s Landing and the Narrows will give me all I’m dreaming about. But I can’t be miserable on the way there.
So I must condition myself and the best way is hiking. And in Oklahoma, the best place to hike is the Wichita Mountains. This may be a matter of opinion but I myself love the variety it offers. From rock climbing to bouldering to leaning into an uphill walk, there’s something for all the muscles in this place. I’ve written about my love of this area before but it’s growing as I’m expanding where I’m trekking about.
Barely two miles, it follows a well-marked trail and there are portions that are basically staircases. Great for working the legs and it’s easy going down. Wonderful news for my knees.
What’s not good for my knees? Going down Mt. Scott. My toes get all smooshed too and I got myself a new blister that is not going to feel great at work tomorrow. But I hoof it up that mother as fast as I can. Two and a half miles up and two and a half miles back down. (Weird how that works…) It’s hard, not so much the physicality of it, though that is not a blast, but ignoring all the beautiful views on the way up. Correction, I do not ignore the views I just refrain from taking pictures of the views. The point is to challenge my lungs and legs and stopping to take a picture of a pretty purple flower every ten feet would not help my endurance.
I did a new hike last week to the 40 ft. Hole. Though warned this would be a letdown at this time of year I’m stubborn and wanted a new route so I went anyways. And yeah, there wasn’t much of a waterfall. But it was a lovely hike, besides losing the trail around six times. Not a big deal really because it follows the creek for the most part and if you just scramble over a few boulders, you are back on the trail. But it was new to me, and there are a few different trails in the area, so I worried about getting lost.
This area is called the Buffalo Trail System and can be done as a full-on 8-mile + loop or in shorter stints depending on what you want to see. Since the falls was my objective was I followed the Kite Trail, marked by this symbol:
Like I said, I kept losing it but then it would appear again just over the big rocks. One spot in particular I lost both going and coming. But as I was searching I found this bashful little guy just waking from a nap.
And the forty foot hole, it just wasn’t flowing. There was a collection of dudes having some fun in a nice cool swimming hole. Luckily the trail is up on a ridge so they don’t show up in my photos but their conversation echoed off the rocks. It’s clear they were excited to be in my pics. They quipped “‘guys without shirts swimming’ is the caption”, heh-heh. That’s how guys swim, dudes. And don’t make me feel creepy, I’m just out to see a waterfall.
There’s also this wall near the beginning of the trail. I crossed it because I figured I would regret it if I didn’t. The sun wasn’t a photographer’s friend but there was a mini-fall on the other side. And I imagine after a spring rain the effect is beautiful.
I’ll probably boulder hop up Mt. Scott again soon. I did it about a month ago and it turns out late summer is a better time to do this. The trees were happy and full and it blocks your progress. Plus there is an enormous amount of bumble bees who don’t leave you alone. Can’t begrudge them; it’s their mountainside really.
But next time is Elk Mountain all the way. It’s my happy place, my comfort, my slice. Though it is the hardest trail for me to not take pictures of.
Who am I kidding? They’re all hard to resist. But they all have their own sweet payoff.
Anyone else found heaven in the Wichitas? Have a backyard mountaintop they can’t get enough of? Or even a favorite urban nature trail they escape to?