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Oklahoma: Back To Nature

A friend and I decided to get some much-needed time away from Dallas Metropolis, so we planned a short overnight trip to Oklahoma . We enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities so I looked for a place that would accommodate all of our needs within a short trip. I was looking for a place that offered hiking, overnight camping, and rock climbing. I found much to my happiness, that the Wichita National Wildlife Refuge was only about three hours north of Dallas . According to the internet it had many outdoor amenities. With the info provided it seemed like a nice, new quick place to visit.

We left early Sunday morning, way before the sun had even thought about coming up. If you’ve ever driven west and north Texas it’s pretty darn flat. As a matter of fact, you’ll know when you’ve left Texas because you’ll start to see the landscape change. Two and a half hours into our trip the sun yawned and said good morning and off in the distance we saw the beginnings of what looked like a mountain. I was born and raised in the Rockies and the closer we got there was hills, very different hills, but they were hills. Boulders the size of houses all piled together in a neat way. We arrived at the visitor center a few minutes before eight so I took my camera out and, WOW, I began shooting the wild Bison roaming the nearby pasture.

An elderly grey bearded man that resembled Gandalf the grey from Lord of The Rings opened the doors promptly at eight and greeted us with a smile as he dumped the trash and made us laugh the whole time with his charming humor. He had a wealth of knowledge of the refuge and made it a point to say, “Were not a park, were a refuge!” with a great big smile. He gave us a tour of the park through actual pictures and directed us to where we wanted to go. He had extensive knowledge of the refuge because he had worked there for fifteen years. He was an amazing guy. We set out with all our maps and literature, and talked about how he was such a great fixture of the refugee.

We drove to where we decided we wanted to camp, next to a small lake, right off the water, and close to a restroom so we wouldn’t have to hike double time if need be. I backed the truck into the space, and we stepped off the truck and low and behold our second brush with nature, two deer’s laying in the underbrush and fallen leaves! I reached for the camera and again began shooting. Apparently because it’s a refuge and you cannot harm them their pretty friendly, I was able to get within fifteen or twenty feet without them moving. Then from the brush out pop a couple of raccoons!

About half past nine we adorned our forty-pound hiking packs complete with rock climbing gear and set off for the day. Up, down, around, over, under, we went on this trail that would put us at the base of the two-thousand-foot boulder hill we were attempting that day. A small clear pond at the base with slowly moving clear water welcomed us as we cleared the trees and bushes. Then we looked up, way up, from where we were standing it appeared to be no problem.

We picked a path up that did not appear as if it had ever been chosen before, or at least this year and started ascending the rock face. We climbed for about an hour and a half, when that sun was straight over our heads the temperature was already 110 degrees in the shade. We found some shade and took a break just long enough to catch a bit of a breeze. We were both carrying about six liters of water and by that time I was halfway through my water. So, we decided to drop the packs and gear and climb the rest with no ropes just harnesses and two one-liter bottles of water.

We found the freedom of not having the packs hurried us along and we reached the summit much faster and happier. The sun was trying to turn us to raisins, so we took a few pictures and double timed it back down. A few other climbers and hikers enjoyed the sun and trails that Sunday afternoon in July, not many, because of the heat. All in all, it was great to see all the wildlife and great to be able to see things that many wont and most of all being able to get in touch with nature. I can’t wait to go back in October!


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