Monday, September 16, 2013
Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge - Charron's Wilderness Hike
Distance: 7 miles Rating: 5.5/5
Difficulty: Difficult (Due to distance, terrain, and skilled navigation required)
Conditions: Warm temps, PCloudy to cloudy to PCloudy, moderate rain for about 30mins near 1 mile point of hike. Moderate breeze was stiffer near the top of "The Crab Eyes".
Awesome hike with Diane and Rob. Left Ft. Worth at 5am and got on the trail around 10am. Weather was great (not too hot) and a little cloudy (to keep the sun off). About the 1 mile point we did receive about 30 mins or less of steady (moderate) rain. Thankfully the temps and wind did not make it a potential hypothermia event!
The Wichita Mtns NWR is well designed and maintained. It is the home to Bison, Longhorn, and Elk (among many other species of animals). Observed several bison and longhorn during our drive to the trailhead, but did not encounter any along the trails (though there was ample "evidence" of their passing that way).
I was surprised at how dense the plant life was in the first mile or so of the trail. Wheat grass and other grasses grew almost to head height. The trees (mostly Post Oaks) were plentiful in the valley and riverine area (though they were short by Alabama standards). There was a plethora of grasshoppers (all sizes and colors) -- much to Diane's chagrin. Dazzling dragonflies, in myriads of colors, greeted us along the stream sides. A few flies were in evidence but they did not pose a nuisance on this trip.
As we gained elevation we encountered shorter grasses, small plants with yellow tomato-like fruit, prickly-pear, and small barrel cacti. There were short, gnarly cedars (probably very old in spite of their short stature) and an occasional post oak as we climbed to near the summit of "The Crab Eyes".
Small, swift and colorful lizards greeted us at almost every turn of the trail. Thankfully their cousins (the snakes) DID NOT make an appearance!
The final climb to "The Crab Eyes" was the most difficult portion of the trek but the view was worth the effort! With a stiff, cooling breeze in your face you could survey the full expanse of the valley below the ridge-line.
Of course, Rob and I had to slither into the "Boulder Room" on our way back down the trail. It required crawling on your stomach through an opening in granite into a "room" made of boulders tumbled together countless ages ago. One could easily imagine Comanche Indians playing around or sheltering in this cave.
This hike would rate as one of my best... not only because of the beauty and spiritual-feel but because I could share it with Diane & Rob.
Charron's Wilderness -- Wichita Mountains -- a jewel created by the hand of GOD. HIS handiwork was vividly seen here!
Get out there. Be still and know HIM.