Wichita Mountain Hiking Experience

•March 7, 2011 • Comments Off

I woke around 7:00a to do some packing and get my gear ready for my hike. I set out to do the Charon’s Garden trail, hitting the trail head at about 9:00a. The Charon’s Garden trail is only a 2 mi./2hr. trail, and it seems to me to be a fairly intermediate difficulty – nothing too taxing, but plenty of rocky areas. The trail heads through a nice valley next to Elk Mountain, a beautiful area of the reserve.

Stop by the reserve visitor center and get a topographical map for about $3 before you try this trail and you could easily spend the entire day exploring the Charon’s Garden area that the trail cuts through. One caveat – as with the whole reserve, the bison and elk are free range, and they don’t call it Elk Mountain for nothin’. Last time I hiked this area we encountered an elk from within 2 yds. and during the hike this year I had three separate encounters with bison ranging from 2 yds. to 20 yds. off the trail. Please, look, but don’t touch.

The temperature was perfect for hiking, somewhere in the 60’s. The sky was foggy on my way out, but cleared off on the return.

Overall I had a good experience on the Charon’s Garden trail, but there was one disappointing thing about the trail – it is very poorly marked. You will have to rely on some hikers markers and – if you’re lucky – some good footprints to keep you going. Of course, this was particularly irritating for me because I was on a solo hike (and I had not yet purchased an area topographical map). It came to the point that I lost the trail toward the end going on an offshoot for about 45 min. I still got to see some pretty sweet scenery, but it was a real pain trying to stay on the trail, and I couldn’t regain the trail and go to the end due to my own time constraints. I’d recommend the trail for hiking through some beautiful country, but you should know what you’re getting into – and how to get out of it. If you do give it a shot, you’re going to see some beautiful granite rock formations, a wonderful plateau in the valley, great streams and wildlife in their natural home. Well worth the trip.

Wichita Mountain Camping Experience

•February 28, 2011 • 1 Comment

It took me about 30 minutes to set up camp – pitching the tent and transferring all my gear from the car to the tent. I’ve come to set a high value to any gear that will help in a fast set up and tear down. You want to have your time frames defined by your camping activities, not by your set up and tear down. Since this was my first solo camp, I knew things like setting up would take me a lot more time than with a buddy, so I made sure that I only brought and set up essential equipment. Really I think that most of my time was spent lugging equipment to and from the road – the tent went up fairly easily, but I would have had a rough time if there had been a strong wind.

The site fees are $8, and they have ice and firewood for sale at the entrance to the camp grounds. Unfortunately for me, there was a burn ban in effect for the county so firewood wasn’t a concern of mine. I prefer to use deadwood for the camp rather than buy it, but sometimes you’re only options are wood that is either too wet or too wick for use. On this trip there was a serious lack of deadwood laying around, so it wasn’t an option even if there hadn’t been a ban, although there was abundant kindling.

As of 5:30p I only have two sets of neighbors, one to the WNW and one to the NNW, but they are pretty courteous and quiet, so no problems there. Things are looking to turn into a peaceful evening.

I brought brauts, creamed corn, and baked beans for dinner. I’m trying to keep things pretty simple since I only have two burners to work with.

Since I didn’t have a grill over a cookfire to work with, I boiled the brauts to warm them and then let them sear in the pan when the water boiled off. This was a quick and easy dinner for making on a camping stove – really a great meal if you don’t have the option of a fire.

I forgot to bring any dishrags or paper towels, so I had to get creative with cleanup. Boiling water took care of most of it, and a couple of extra hot dog buns made serviceable scrubbers for the pot.

The sun set at 6:40p, and the surrounding trees made for much more privacy at night. I strung up a couple of lamps and read until about 9:30p and then turned in for the night.

My night’s sleep went very well until about midnight when a couple moved into the sight next to me. They took about an hour to get their site set up and were annoyingly loud. I’m not sure how they got in to the camp site, because the gates are supposed to be closed at 8:00p. Needless to say, I was pretty hacked at them for showing up and setting up in the middle of the night.

The sun rose at about 6:00a, and I decided to get up at 7:00a. I made myself a breakfast of eggs, bacon and coffee to get ready for the day of hiking I had in store. I highly recommend finding a good plastic french press for your coffee instead of relying on a percolator. You’re going to get a much better cup of coffee in the same amount of time with the french press. After breakfast I packed up the majority of my gear and stowed it in the tent so I could set out on my hike. I’ll tell you about the hiking experience in my next post.

Wichita Mountains Wildlife Reserve

•February 20, 2011 • Comments Off

I’ve decided to kick off a reboot to the old blog with a little camping post. I’m going to go through a rundown of my one night  trip and then give a little review of the camp ground as well. I’m planning on splitting this into three parts, with an overview of the campgrounds, my camping experience, and my hiking experience.

I went to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for this trip. I’ve been there once before, in April of 2010, with my buddy Miller. The refuge is only about 2 hours away from the north OKC Metro, so it rests in a fairly convenient distance for even quick camping trips, while still landing pretty far from home.

Being in the southwest area of the state, the Wichita Mountain range have a very different feel from the ranges that dominate the eastern half of the state. These mountains will leave you with a feel for the west and give you daydreams of hiding behind a ridge to scope down on some rustlers. Or something like that. Expect plenty of granite boulders (ranging up to the size of semi trailers), plenty of low-height blackjack, post-oak and a mix of evergreen trees, and plenty of cacti (which can make for some tricky off trail hiking). On top of that, the refuge is home to free ranging herds bison, and Texas longhorn, and elk. Free ranging, as in, bison in your camp site. On my latest trip, I encountered bison on the trail on three occasions, at a range of 2-30 yards off the trail. The bison are calm and docile most of the time. The rest of the time, they will gore you to death. There are also three known mountain lions, but I’ve never come across one of them.

This was my first solo camping and hiking trip – if you plan a solo trip, be sure to let someone know when and where you plan to camp, and especially when and where you are hiking. Something that’s just annoying when with a partner, like an ankle sprain, can be dangerous when you have no help around. Particularly when a buffalo is sizing you up cause you looked at him funny. Did I mention that they can weigh up to 2,000 pounds?

I arrived at Doris Campground in the refuge at about 3:30pm on Friday afternoon, and there were still ample available sites to pick from.

I generally use the following guidelines to select a good spot in a general semi-primitive camp ground:

  • Seclusion (the most desirable, but most difficult to obtain)
  • Water access
  • Tree cover
  • GHD (gear-haulin’-distance)
  • Restroom access (I don’t mind going in the woods, but given the choice, playa please

Doris Campground is the only general public use campground in the refuge, but it has some pretty good offerings. There are a selection of primitive sites in the campground that are more secluded in general compared to the semi-primitive sites, but the GHD can be high, and the primitive sites are tightly spaced, so all it takes is one annoying neighbor deciding to set up shop to ruin the whole primitive camping section. Not worth the risk in my experience – you’ll end up with more privacy in most of the semi-primitive areas.

The semi-primitive sites in Doris have a few notable pros in a general comparison to most semi-primitive setups:

  • close parking (1-2 vehicles) GHD is reduced to 3-20 yards with parking spots for each individual site. Makes for a markedly easier setup and tear-down.
  • moderate  tree cover between each site
  • well kept fire pits
  • charcoal grill and generally undamaged concrete picnic table (seats 6)
  • large and spread out camping site area (rental covers two tents, but there is room for more).

Of course there are a few cons:

  • While the sites are spread out, your neighbors are quite close
  • line of sight is mostly unbroken between campsites
  • close parking means close road
  • bison in your camp (not just raccoons)

Overall it’s a pretty good setup and it’s your only choice, unless you get a permit for wilderness camping. Check back again in a few days for a look at the camping experience.

Blog Slacker (part two)

•November 16, 2009 • Comments Off

In the further spirit of recounting the things I should have blogged, but I failed to…

For approximately 12 years I have had an unfulfilled life goal. On October 18th, 2009 that all changed. That is the day I finally saw U2 live in concert. That is the day that I was within four feet of Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr.

Needless to say, the concert was epic. The hours of musical bliss more than made up for the eight hours of standing.

This is the setlist from the show:
Breathe
Get on Your Boots
Magnificent
Mysterious Ways*
Beautiful Day
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
Stuck In A Moment
No Line on the Horizon
Elevation
In A Little While
Unknown Caller
Until The End of the World
Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
I’ll Go Crazy – Remix
Sunday Bloody Sunday*
MLK
Walk On
One
Where The Streets Have No Name
Ultraviolet
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Before the concert, Stephanie and I were sitting down for lunch and discussing what we wanted to hear them play, if we could pick the songs. Of all the songs we listed, the only two they didn’t play were Bad and Miracle Drug. That’s pretty freaking awesome. I put an asterisk by Mysterious Ways because that’s the song I’ve sung to John Mark ever since he was in the womb. I put and asterisk by Sunday Bloody Sunday because that was my top, no. 1 song that I wanted them to play (and when Larry began to strike that unmistakeable beat on the drums my head nearly exploded from overexposure to awesome).

They put on a show like none other and they really try to make everyone in the stadium feel as if  they are a part of something. Best concert ever.

I took some (shaky) pics with my phone – enjoy!

BonoThe EdgeBonoAdamLarry

Blog Slacker (part one)

•November 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

So, obviously I have taken an unintentional sabbatical from blogging for the month of October, and some of November. Lame, I know.

To make amends I will give an overview of what you missed (that’s why you came isn’t it?)

And in tribute to a growing trend on my blog, I will do this in multiple posts (part 1, 2, etc.)

En Fuego (That’s Spanish for, “On Fuego”) – This is the leadership retreat that I take the 7th and 8th grade students from church on every year. (Rather, they go every year. This is only my second time. I wonder what threshold you have to pass to be comfortable saying you do something every year/month/day. Three repetitions? Four? Definitely not two.)

I had a stretching weekend because I had to lead worship for the first time since I started working at HHBC and I had to lead three times during the weekend. It was like Chinese water torture on my fingertips (from the guitar strings). It’s okay if you think, “Hey, I had no CLUE Micah could sing! Or play the guitar… or lead worship in any kind of competent manner (a claim which I have not made).” None of the students had any idea that I lead worship either. They were, in unison, shocked. I guess they haven’t yet picked up on that whole hippy rock-star vibe I’ve been pushing out… strange that…

The weekend was great. I think the kids learned a bit (largely because Pierson taught two of the sessions for me), and some of them grew alot as well. For me, leading worship stands out for the simple reason that I was forced to do something which, five or six years ago, was a huge part of my life, but has since fallen to a passing hobby. In high school and in college I lead worship as often as I could, and at some points three times a week. I almost took a job at a church leading worship (I don’t think I’d have like it). At one time early in college I was saving up to record songs with a friend of mine to put out as a single – a prospect which seems both preposterous and unappealing now.

This has captured my attention because it means that I have changed… significantly. I have morphed. If my persona five years ago could have been represented in a physical manifestation and compared to who I am today, the resemblance would be familiar, but hardly identifiable.

This idea has set me to pondering. My goals in life have gone largely unchanged in the past five to ten years. Some have become more focused, for instance, I now know the wife and child to whom I strive to be committed and to love, while I hadn’t met either of them before (but nonetheless it was my goal to love them well). Some peripheral goals have been (thankfully) abandoned (the whole CD single idea). But in large, my purposes and goals have remained unaltered, but perhaps refined.

I used to casually regret that I don’t lead worship often any longer. Now I think I can find some joy knowing that my hobbies/activities/service have become less “full’, while my life has become more “fulfilling”. I am more focused on pursuing what I believe God has called me to do (Revealing the truth), while I am less extended into other (still worthwhile) things.

I love that I had a chance to serve in leading worship for so many years. The thought of doing so occaisionally is still appealing to me. But in large, I am content to look back at that with nostalgia, and no remorse for having left it behind. I pray that God will remain faithful in refining me and removing the dross of my life and I will be continually resurrected with increasing purity.

Aged Six Years (pt. 3)

•September 22, 2009 • Comments Off

I’ll put these old poems to rest for a bit after this one. This one is kind of a downer, but I like the rhythm in it . There’s kind of a systematic break and halt to it, and the lines are short, with singular thoughts in each stanza. So, I hope, you kind of get the picture and empathize, construct the whole idea around the emotion and scene. P.S. WordPress is not friendly to line breaks and text formatting. P.P.S. go to Rodor’s blog and tell her what you think love is: rodors.wordpress.com

Copyright 2003, All rights reserved.

A Man Sits Quietly

A man sits quietly in the garden,
Tries desperately to sit with grace,
His hands clasped, his heart broken

His brow is naked in the sun
He makes no effort to quell the rays,
A man sitting quietly in the garden

With every moment his eyes darken
His lips quiver in pitiful ways
His hands clasped, his heart broken

Here and there tears freely run
Down his sun-hardened face,
A man sitting quietly in the garden

He’s locked in a nightmare, He can’t awaken
Eyes pressed shut, he prays
His hands clasped, his heart broken

His love, she is gone, distant and fallen
He mourns lowly now in this place,
A man sitting quietly in a garden
His hands clasped, his heart broken

Aged Six Years (pt. 2)

•September 11, 2009 • Comments Off

Let’s go with something different this time… Copyright 2003, all rights reserved.

Limericks

Unable to miss the huge puddle
He sat in the water befuddled
Bewildered and drenched
Eyes shut and fists clenched
Embarrassed and wet and muddled

One evening while crossing the road
I was hindered mid-stride by a toad
“Please stop, oh my gosh!
My face you will squash!”
I ignored him and he did explode

Is a parrot really a bird?
So talented in quoting word
Useless for frying
Too caged up for flying
Its nature is hopelessly blurred

 
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