April 13-15, 2001: Visiting Ron and Prudence in San Antonio
March 3-11, 2001: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 2001


 

April 7-8, 2001
A Weekend in the Wichita Mountains


 

Every so often, Fred likes to visit the Wichita Mountains up in Oklahoma. He introduced them to me shortly after we met, and we have been there a number of times since. We like to do many of the same things repeatedly, but every hike is a bit different each time we do it. My favorite thing is the boulder avalanche on Mt. Scott, but I don't like carrying a camera when I hike it because I need both hands for balance as we jump from rock to rock. (Later in this album, after both Fred and I start using digital cameras, I will have one small enough to fit in my pocket, and I will take more pictures of the avalanche then.)

 

Getting to the Wichita Mountains

This isn't our first trip to the Wichita Mountains, so you may have seen the route on an earlier album page.


I drove up to Fred's house on Friday afternoon to be there when he got home. We loaded up his SUV and headed north on US 75. At Sherman, we went west on US 82, taking that familiar route all the way to Wichita Falls. From there, we headed north on I-44 to Lawton, the nearest big town to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

The Super 8 Motel where we were going to stay was on the north side of town, so we just continued past downtown on I-44 to get off at Cache Road; the Super 8 was less than a mile on our right. We got there just about midnight.


The next morning, we got up and took off for the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. Getting there takes about 45 minutes, and consists of a ten-mile trip up I-44 to Oklahoma Highway 49. This leads west to the town of Medicine Park, and the entrance to the Wildlife Refuge is a few miles after that.

The actual Visitor Center is a good ways inside the park by Quanah Parker Lake, although we understand that a new one is going to be built a couple of miles southeast of the lake, east of the intersection of Highway 49 to the northwest and Highway 115 that heads south into west Lawton.

For this short weekend, and considering we didn't take that many photographs, I'll just have a section here for each hike we did- two on Saturday and one, the Boulder Avalanche up Mt. Scott, on Sunday. As I said, I didn't take my camera on that one. If you'd like to see where these hikes are in the Wildlife Refuge, you can have a look at the refuge diagram in the scrollable window below:

 

Hiking Up Elk Mountain

One hike we have done a few times is the trail up Elk Mountain, one of the highest spots in the park. It is always a pleasure, and the views from the top are tremendous.


Fred Atop Elk Mountain

From the parking area the trail begins by crossing a footbridge across Treasure Creek, and from there the trail leads up the north side of Elk Mountain, which is actually more of a peaked mesa, as the top is more flat than like a mountain peak. When we got to the top, we wandered around in basically a big circle, but criss-crossing the top of the mountain. There are all kinds of really neat rock formations, including a very narrow crevasse that is always fun to walk through. And from every side of the mountain, the views are tremendous. Use the clickable thumbnails below to have a look at some of the pictures we took here on Elk Mountain:


The hike up Elk Mountain is always a pleasure; the views are tremendous, and there are always interesting rock formations to observe and climb on. We took a number of additional pictures on our way up and down the trail, and you can click on the thumbnails below to see these pictures:

 

The Charon's Garden Trail

The other major hike we did on Saturday was the hike through an area the park calls "Charon's Garden." What the connection is between this area of the park and the boatman who ferries the dead across the river Styx, I don't know.


Fred at the End of the Charon's Garden Trail

The Charon's Garden Trail begins back at the parking area for Elk Mountain. Having spent all morning on top of Elk Mountain, we'd returned to the parking area just after noon to have a picnic lunch that we'd brought. Then we headed off in a different direction for Charon's Garden. The trail begins by following Treasure Creek, eventually crossing it and heading south through a slowly narrowing valley. Before we left the creek, Fred found one of the many springs that dot this area of the park.

Along much of its length, the trail looks up at Elk Mountain to the east; we took three good pictures along the hike, and there are clickable thumbnails for them below:


 

Hiking up Mt. Scott

On Sunday, we came back out to the Wildlife Refuge to repeat our hike up Mt. Scott. Boulder-hopping up and down Mt. Scott is one of our favorite things to do; this will be the fifth or sixth time we've been here and done this. The south side of Mt. Scott is an avalanche of boulders. Hopping from one to another requires a bit of care, but is not particularly dangerous (although people have lost their footing and fallen into spaces between the boulders).


Mount Scott is the second-tallest (by 12 feet) mountain in the Wildlife Refuge, and is 2,464 feet high. Most folks get to the summit by car; there is a spiral road that snakes its way up the mountain. On the north face of the mountain, which is fairly steep, rock climbers can make the ascent. It is a popular area for climbers to practice their skills.

On the south side of the mountain, however, is the "boulder avalanche," which is another way to get to the top. When we climb the boulder field, we leave our cameras in the car, usually, because having something around your neck swinging back and forth as you boulder-hop is disconcerting (you need both hands for balance and to block a possible fall should you lose that balance). On a previous trip, when I did take it with me, it accidentally hit one of boulders. Though not damaged, I thought it better on subsequent climbs just to leave it behind. Before we started out, though, I took this picture of the avalanche looking up at it from the bottom.

The boulder field heads straight up for quite a ways, and then curves around to the east to continue all the way to the top. At two points, it crosses the spiral road. It takes about ninety minutes to get to the top, and perhaps a little more to get down (since hopping DOWN onto boulders has to be done a bit more carefully so your forward momentum doesn't cause you to pitch forward and go further than you intended).

We enjoyed the hike again as we always do, and we were back down to the car by about three, when we headed off back to Fred's house in Van Alstyne.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.


April 13-15, 2001: Visiting Ron and Prudence in San Antonio
March 3-11, 2001: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
Return to the Index for 2001