Last month I returned to my home state of Oklahoma for the first time since my mother passed in 2015. Weeks leading up to the trip, I started to become quite anxious. While I looked forward to seeing my family and friends, there was an”edge” that kept creeping up, increasing personal doubt, fear, and resistance. I could have made excuses, intentionally missed flights, etc – granted things I seriously considered – but honesty is the most important virtue in my recovery. I promised to come home, I was going to keep this promise.
The trip started with riding the Down Eastern from Portland to Boston for the first time. As seen below the trip was rather “frosty,” and I was ready for warmer weather.
After spending the night in the enjoyable and convenient HI Boston Hostel, the trip from Boston to Dallas was uneventful. Once back in the Texas-Oklahoma continuum, things quickly began teetering between fascinating, depressing, and hilarious.
Driving toward Oklahoma, my tummy began to rumble when I came across a sign proclaiming “Texas Best Beef Jerky.” Why not?! Entering the establishment, against the far wall sat a simple plywood box with a variety of warnings to its dangerous contents. Since Texas and Oklahoma hosts numerous rattlesnake roundups each spring, I made a grave assumption to what creature the box held.
Granted these lil’ rattlers may be far more dangerous than the assumed rattlesnakes.
Northwest I continued toward Lawton, Oklahoma. Altus was my destination, but the closer I got the more my anxiety grew to the point I decided to stop in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge for some light hiking and wildlife viewing. After my mother passed that January evening, this is where I drove to scream into the ebony night and cry. I remember the frozen tears stinging my face. This time I wanted to embrace the Refuge’s beauty and opportunities. Hiking always helps to clear my mind. First stop, a map…
Cedar Planting (aka Parallel Forest)
I never knew this unique (and allegedly haunted) forest existed in the Refuge. The government planted these cedars every six feet over 100 years ago. There are many eerie tales and stories woven among these sturdy trees. However I did not experience any supernatural occasions, but rather the perfect chance to stretch my legs after the plane and 200 miles of driving.
The next short hike was up Little Baldy. A rather short but enjoyable trek. It’s a very simple out-and-back trail with beautiful views from the summit.
Please do not the let the lack of snow fool you. It is still nippy out there.
This particular hike is the only one I did not make the summit for the day. I was not confident I could reach it and get back down before sunset. Instead I reveled in the natural beauty and climbed as far as I could before heading back to Lawton. While a bit disappointed any time I cannot reach the top, I still quite enjoyed this adventure.
Leaving the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge … just one more stop, “Prairie Dog Town”
I’m counting these three short hikes all as #hike2 of #52hikechallenge2018.