I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!
Oklahoma: More Exciting Than You Think!
July 18, 2017
High Point: Black Mesa (Oklahoma)
Elevation: 5,705 feet
Starting Point: Black Mesa Nature Preserve
Total Miles: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 755 feet
As you can tell from the numbers above, Black Mesa is significantly shorter than the previous peaks that I climbed or attempted this summer. In comparison to all the others, it was a walk in the park with only 755 feet of very gradual elevation gain. However, this trip proved to be the one where I doubted myself the most. There is nothing necessarily terrifying about the hike. You walk across flat ground the majority of the time. But some events before the hike and on the trail actual scared me a bit.
The day before the hike, I drove to Oklahoma from my brother’s house in New Mexico. It was a lovely drive, yet it was slightly disheartening to stray further and further from the mountains and more into the flat lands. I still enjoyed the backroads I had to travel in order to get there. I passed a few farm houses and very small towns along the way. Most of what I saw on the way there was cows, cows, and more cows!
I got to the trailhead around 7:30pm. I cracked open my book and read until the sun went down and fell asleep around 10:00pm. However, I woke up not to soon after by several flashes of lightening in the background. Soon after, the flashes got closer, the thunder barreled within seconds after each flash and the sky opened up and started to dump buckets of rain. I have never experienced a storm so fierce in my life…well at least not while dwelling in a little metal box. The lighting and thunder was going off every few seconds in all directions. The rain was coming down like a powerful waterfall. I was parked in a pull off dirt area and was afraid that my car was going to get stuck, so I moved my car onto the gravel road. Then, I started to wonder how safe it was to be in my car during this storm regardless of where I was parked. “The rubber tires will keep you safe, just don’t touch the sides of the van,” I kept telling myself. Then I began questioning whether or not this was an impending tornado. Rubber tires will not save you from a tornado! I tried to look up info on tornados in Oklahoma during the summer, but I did not have any cell service. So, I kept reminding myself that tornados usually happen in the plains, not in the more hilly or mountainous areas of the state. I didn’t know if this was true or not, but in order to not drive myself crazy, I believed it. A local I met on the hike the next day informed me that tornados usually don’t hit this area of Oklahoma and mostly happen in the Spring time.
The storm lasted about two hours. It was two of the longest hours of my life! The next morning, I awoke unscathed. I opened the van door, crawled out and inspected my surroundings. It was as if nothing happened. Minus some water on the trail, there was no evidence of a violent storm. The sky was blue and nature was gaily chirping away. So, I had my coffee and oatmeal and set out on the trail. About a mile or so in, I came upon cows in the middle of my path. I am a city girl, so I was not quite sure what to do. I mean they are big animals that I do not want to fuck with! The biggest one looked startled by me. I slowly walked a little bit closer. Big or not, that thing was scared shitless and started running away with the rest of it’s pack in tow. I have to admit, cows look quite silly when they attempt to run. Regardless, disaster averted.
I continued on, surrounded by views of the surrounding mesas, sage, and very colorful crickets that flew all over the trail. This area is considered rattlesnake country, so I was very cognizant of every step. I did not see any on the trail, but I heard one on my way back from the summit and quickly frolicked further down the trail. The views along the hike were pretty, but the summit awards you with a view nothing but flat land, a monument, and some sunflowers. Overall, it was a very lovely hike. I enjoyed not having to overexert myself with a lot of elevation gain.
Food: Since I passed millions of cows on my ride and was genuinely scared by several on the trail, I decided it was most appropriate to have a burger after my hike. I had a cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato at the only establishment I could find open in Oklahoma on a Sunday afternoon. Apparently noone has told business owners in Oklahoma that you can just pray in the morning and open your restaurant afterwards on Sundays. It wasn’t the best burger I have ever had, but it was better than the processed beef sticks and pretzels I would have had instead.