If you know me, you know I love to hike. A few years back I embarked on the 52 hike challenge- 1 hike a week for a year. I completed 46 hikes before I had a knee injury that did not allow me to finish it. Fast forward two years, and I have managed to get my best friend, Katelynn to embark on the 52 Hike Challenge journey as well. Our first Hike consisted of my favorite hike in Oklahoma. This was a spur of the moment trip that we took on after I completed a 12 hour swing shift at the ER vet clinic. After some McDonalds breakfast, a few stops at Loves, and a lot of road tripping songs later, we made it to our destination about an hour and a half before nightfall. Katelynn and I brought with us Legion, Freya and Biscuit (Loras' dog). This would be probably the second time Biscuit hiked with us and our dogs. Well, Katelynn and got the dogs hooked up to their leashes and began our journey through the narrows. This is a trial I have been on a few times now, and so I know the way pretty well up to the 3 tier waterfall hidden among the canyon divided by a river. At one point I chose to go to the overlook vs going up to the ridge to show Katelynn the view of the river flowing beneath us. At this point Legion put up his scruff and started to act really suspicious, to which we shrugged off, and continued down the path. The path that I lovingly refer to as "the narrows" is rugged terrain that involves jagged rocks that range in height all over the path, basically causing you to need to rock hop. Katelynn was NOT pleased with me. After about a mile we made it up to the overlook where I could finally show Katelynn the 3 tier waterfall that is hidden deep in the canyon. It is absolutely beautiful- the red rocks, the water rushing and flowing, and the sky changing colors as the sun sets. Kate and I decide to skip hiking down to the waterfall to the fact of how haard it would be for Bisciut and Freya and the difficulty of the hike itself. We took a few photos to document our hike and made the trek back to the truck, trying to make it back before nightfall. Katelynn and I laughed and had lots of fun on the way back, as we hopped down the sharp rocks along the path. Then we saw it. Right at the ridge where we chose to follow the overlook at the beginning of our hike, we notice that there are tracks about softball sized that look like they come from a large cat. Seeing as they looked pretty new, I brushed my foot over them, and was able to move the dirt, confirming, the tracks were indeed, fresh. Then I realized, the ridge is what Legion was acting suspicious of- when in fact he was potentially telling us that we were being watched, by a Mountain Lion. So Katelynn and I decide that about that time, is time to book it down the trail back to the truck. Legion and I are together and hop down the rocks with ease, but Katelynn isn't so lucky- as Freya and Biscuit are having a great time playing together, and not cooperating with her. As we make it back to where the truck is in sight, the birds around us start to squawk and fly up into the sky, and Legion begins to put his hair up on the back of his neck- letting us know it is definitely time to load up and get home. Katelynn and I get everyone situated in their crates in the truck, and make our way away from my favorite hiking place. As we drive up the winding trail through the park- we drive up on a beautiful site of a mother longhorn nursing her calf. After a few minutes of taking photos from the truck, I get the courage to get out and take photos from the road. The pink sky behind mother and baby just illuminated the innocence that is nature.
A few weeks back Katelynn and I made another impromtu trip to Oklahoma to hike back to the narrows. She is just as enthralled with the hike as I am at this point- no matter how much she complains. This time we only brought with us Legion and Freya, and decided to go the route of the ridge vs the overlook considering the Mountain Lion situation this time. We made our way along the rocky path up to the waterfall that I have been consumed with since the first time I saw it, and I told Katelynn this time- we climb down it. Well Legion and I went first, and Freya and Katelynn behind us- careful to watch for rattlesnakes and not to slip on the slick rocks on the way down into the canyon. Finally after much precision we made it to the base of the falls. It is emaculate, and is just Katelynn, myself and the dogs. We spend our time climbing up to the second tier of the falls to take photos of the dogs and ourselves. and we let Legion and Freya play for a bit. Then Kate asks me how we get out, and I tell her the same way we got down- to which she replied- "Absolutely not". Oh Absolutely yes. We climbed back up the rocks this time with wet shoes, and had to be extra careful not to tumble down into the water during our 300ft climb. Once at the top we opt to continue along the path to see another view of the canyon. We take a moment to stop and capture photos with the dogs, and of the dogs in their XDOG vests. Here we see some passerbys who are going the direction we came from, just not down into the canyon itself. As we eventually move forward on the path, Legion begins to get his aggressive body language and all hair goes up. So this time- we trust him. We turned and made our way back to the part of the trail that we embarked down- FAST. This is when Legion and I continue to jump rocks and climb the slopes, while Katelynn yells at me that "this is not the way we came, it was much more flat and easier." This time we didn't see any Mountain Lion tracks, and luckily no rattlesnakes, but rather we saw the beautiful glory of the falls up close, and managed to make our way back to the truck in once piece.
After leaving the park- Katelynn and I headed over to Elmore City to visit a Dr. that we work with at his ranch. His ranch is used for broodmares and the veterinarian was there checking mares to see how far they were in their cycle. I brought my camera with me and managed to get a few photos while they worked the horses. Katelynn and I stayed to help pen up all of the mares that night, and we were given the priveldge to ride in the ranger as they chased the horses up to the pens they would stay in for the night. It was thrilling. To ride alongside 200+ horses who are running together underneath the beautiful blue sky of Oklahoma, and hear the pounding of their hooves on the ground- there is absolutely no other euphoria like it. Three pastures later- we had them all rounded up for the night, and were watching as the sun began to sink in the sky, leaving us with pink and orange hues. Katelynn and I asked to have permission to train our dogs for a few moments before the drive back to Texas, to which they obliged. The dogs, the sky, the smell, the scene was that of a movie. I couldn't have asked for a better evening to heel my best friend and spend an evening as the happiest I have been in a long time. Katelynn and I loaded up the dogs and started our trip back home, to which we stopped for Chick Fil A to get nuggets for us, and nuggets for the dogs.
Being a born and raised Texan- there is nothing like a Texas sky, but I will always have a special place in my heart for the beauty that is Oklahoma.