Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Dark day

I got a mild case of runners knee "Half and Half" half marathon a couple of weeks back, so I've scaled back on running a bit. After running hard and fast for the first 10 miles and feeling great for a strong finish, the pain seemed to appear out of nowhere. It was only possible to ignore for a few hundred yards, and from thence on I was reduced to walk/shuffle intervals. I finished with 2:22 on the clock, which I suppose wasn't so bad given the circumstances. Frustrating, but humbling. I think my body was protesting a lack of proper training, for the knee pain seems to have gone as quickly as it came.  Everything was fine on a five mile run around Turkey yesterday.

We've had more cloud cover than usual for this time of year. Dark skies don't usually lend themselves to great outdoor photography, but dreary and ominous can have its own beauty, especially at the pond with the lone tree.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's not a no man's land

A few posts ago, I declared the sand bar that extends South from the I-44 bridge a "no man's land." Well I was wrong. On Tuesday evening I ran out here with hope of capturing some nice sunset pics with the bridge as a backdrop. I quickly noticed that a tarp tent had been erected a few hundred yards South of the bridge, on the leeward side of a sand dune. As I walked down to the river, someone emerged from the shelter and appeared to be studying my movements.

After some hesitation, I opted not to turn around. He was obviously down on his luck, and felt that he had no other place to stay. Perhaps he was worried that I was there to shoo him away. After a few minutes of watching me poke around in the brush for photographs, he went back into his tent.

The sunset didn't amount to much, but I still managed to get some fun shots with my S-100.

Monday, December 8, 2014


For those of you who do not live in Tulsa, an Outlet Mall has been proposed for development on the West side of Turkey Mountain.

I struggled with how to address this issue on the blog. I could write a long and detailed post about how the proposed development will harm the adjacent wilderness area, but others have been much more eloquent about this than I could ever be.

Instead, I hope to have a series of posts that will attempt to show, in bits and pieces, and from the ground level, the beauty and mystery that is Turkey Mountain.

"Lynx Falls", taken in the Spring of 2012

Friday, December 5, 2014

Into the fog

Go out in the fog.
Watch the primordial void
give birth to our world.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ramping it up

I put in about 30 miles over the break (Wednesday to Sunday) and still feel awesome. The Half and Half is on the 14th and I just might give it a go.

From my run this morning. Pics taken on my iPhone.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Exploring the Arkansas shoreline

On Wednesday I ran South along Riverside again, this time leaving the trail under the I-44 bridge. There is a huge sandbar South of the bridge that has great views of Turkey Mountain, and lots of cool flotsam strewn about, so I thought I would follow the shoreline as far South as it would let me.

Disciplined runners would not do this. Running through brush and on sand is not conducive to keeping a good pace. In fact, it was a very soft sand, so I walked the whole thing.

And that's OK. These days I'm running for the love outdoors and the adventure of exploring places both new and familiar. Pace is a low priority.

I followed the bar for a few hundred yards until brush made the way impassible, cut across the dune and came back to the Riverside trail just North of where I explored on the previous day. 

A cool little no man's land this is, between the bank and the river. I can't wait to go back and explore the treasures that have washed up over the years. Here are some shots of Turkey that I took with my I-phone:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Down in the ditch

This morning I ran South along Riverside to the outdoor gym around 53rd street. On a whim, I scrambled down the steep bank to a ditch that runs parallel to the river. It runs between the bank and a large scrub covered dune, collecting water from concrete pipes that drain the neighborhoods just East of Riverside. The place is quite beautiful if you ignore all the trash that has been deposited from the heavy rains. Riverside is just a few hundred feet away, but this place feels remote.

Here is an example of one of the flood control outlets.

The bank has slowly eroded around this structure so they've had to reinforce it with some pilings. The pilings themselves are decaying, so this may be gone in the next flood.

If you follow the ditch South, a nice view of Turkey opens up. I'd like to come back here with my DSLR sometime.

Monday, November 24, 2014

In black and white

I ran the new trails on the South side if 61st on Sunday. Like the Hi-chi, these trails are pristine single track, a real pleasure to run. I've been told that is belongs to a private land owner who's cool with bikers and runners using his land. If you look carefully, there are all kind of cool artifacts strewn about the property.

All pics taken with my iphone.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Old trees and a mystery

I had a few events to work at this weekend, so I left work early on Friday and drove out to Turkey for a short afternoon run. It was around 70 degrees and overcast, only a few days after our "polar vortex."

I took the Hi Chi trail Northbound, my favorite on the river side of the mountain. The trail is actual singletrack. It's used far less and is designed much better than the other trails that hug the Eastern side of Turkey Mountain.

There are some ancient trees on Turkey, particularly in the areas where it has been too steep for early settlers to harvest. This is an example of one of them. If I had to guess, I'd say this old sentinel was around before Tulsa was settled by the Creek tribe. Old trees around here are not necessarily the tallest. Rather, they are distinguished by their twisted and knotty trunks. Their battle scars bear witness to the endurance of life in an environment of extremes.

all pics taken on my iphone

There is still some color to be found on the trails.

A strange billed creature emerges from the oak. A platypus, perhaps?

I returned on the far Western end of the wilderness area. This is a crossing of a creek bed that remains dry for most of the year. I dream of wading through a knee-deep torrent rushing over these rocks. Someday, I will live that dream.

And then I found this. Woodchips on the pipeline trail. It looks like they did some tree clearing here, but for what purpose? I guess this is on the Simon property, but I can't image why they would clear trees here, so far away from the road and so far below the ground that was cleared last year.

The Pipeline trail up to 61st was flattened and widened by obvious tractor traffic. The actual site of the proposed outlet Mall is up the hill on the right and the wood-chipped area is behind me. Hmmm...

They don't have permission to build yet, so what is going on? Just routine property maintenance? A mystery to be pondered.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A change in the light

We are approaching the end of the year, and in most places the running season is winding down (or finished). Many runners take the Holidays off to rest and recover, but for me, it's a completely different story. Late Fall is the time when I invariably recover my love of running. After burning out in the heat of our Midwestern summers, the cooler air easier is to breathe, the woods are more inviting, and the Holidays come with more free time.

But I think the single greatest reason for my annual recovery is the light. With the autumnal equinox, the sunlight changes from an oppressive overlord to gentle companion. The angled light in the winter leaves room for darkness and subtlety, and the beauty of all things becomes more apparent.

This summer, while mild by Oklahoma standards, was the worst mentally for my running. At some point in August, the issue was no longer simply training in the heat. I wasn't able envision myself at the starting line of the Fall races that I had considered earlier in the year. So I stopped preparing, and ran only when I felt like it. In August and September, that was not often.

In October I was running a bit more, and went on a backpacking trip down in the Ouachita Mountains, so I felt conditioned enough to run the Turkey and Taturs 10k on Nov. 2nd. I did better than expected, finishing just under an hour. It was a fun race; I finished third and had to work hard to keep the fourth finisher at bay.

All this to say my mojo is back, and I hope to post here more often with tales adventures in the wild

The Ouachita Mountains in October. Taken with my Canon S100.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Autumn color on Turkey Mountain

With the warm and dry Fall we've had, the native Oaks, Maples and Cottonwoods have shed their green later than usual. I don't think it's quite "peak" yet, but the colors are beautiful. This morning the woods were lit with a golden light, filtered down through the yellow, orange and red leaves. You don't need any self motivation to keep moving on these kinds of days.

All pics taken on my iphone. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Surrounded by mountains

"As mountains surround Jerusalem, the Lord surrounds his people both now and forever." - Psalm 125: 2

From a run along Bear Creek in Lakewood, Colorado.

Signs of Fidelity, A Catholic Photo Challenge.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chicago Lakes Trail to Mt. Spaulding

On early Saturday morning, June 28th, I left the suburbs of Denver and drove West to Echo Lake. Echo Lake is near Idaho Springs, on the road up Mt. Evans. My plan was to "run" up the Chicago Lakes trail to Summit Lake at 12,830 feet and turn back.

The forecast was for clear skies all day, but, in typical mountain fashion, it was actually snowing (lightly) when I reached the trailhead at 5 a.m. The clouds soon blew off though, and the rising sun set the sky on fire.

I soon reached what I thought was the first Chicago Lake but found out later to be the Idaho Springs Reservoir. My camera's battery died around here so all of these photos are from the i-phone.

The trail ascended mostly at what trail runners call "douche grade", runnable grade for those well adapted to the altitude. I ran very little of it, saving energy for what I knew was going to be a grueling climb up the headwall of the valley.

In this photo you can see two ridge lines. Mt Evans is in the background and the closer ridge is Mount Spaulding.

Looking back down on the lower Chicago Lake.

It was at the second Chicago Lake that I began to be hounded by bitterly cold winds. I was wearing a cheap pair of thin fleece gloves, not very well suited to this kind of cold, but managed to keep my hands warm inside my jacket pockets.

From the upper Chicago Lake, the trail ascended straight up the headwall up to Summit Lake at the base of Evans. A recent avalanche had obliterated part of the trail here and had me scrambling a bit.

The photo below was taken at the top of that wall, close to summit Lake. This was where I had originally planned to turn around, but, despite the cold, I had that itch to keep going up. I mean, how often am I going have the chance to do something like this again? I wondered if I could make it up Mt. Evans and summit my first 14er. I spoke with a hiker who had come up the same route, familiar with the area. He advised that I hike up to Mt Spaulding (13,480 ft.) first. From there I could take the connecting ridge over to Evans, or simply turn around.

Looking back down from where I had come.

Another view looking down the Chicago Lakes basin. The trailhead is somewhere near the small mountain that rises above where the valley turns to the left. I had come about six miles at this point.

The connecting ridge to Evans

The following pictures were taken just below the top of Spaulding, before my fingers stared to go numb from the cold. As much as I would have liked to hike the connecting ridge over to Evans peak, it was too cold to stay up there a minute longer without more adequate gear. One hiker commented on my wearing running shorts in such cold conditions, but the exposed legs were not a problem at all. A better pair of gloves hat was what I really needed to forge onward toward Mt. Evans.

While I did very little actual running on the way up, it was a blast going back down. Much of the trail below the second Chicago Lake was runnable, and I returned in a third of the time that it took me to go out.

Words and pictures fail to illustrate the beauty of the Colorado high country. I'm still drawing inspiration from my memories of this adventure, and will be for some time.