Saturday, April 9, 2011

Black Mesa, Oklahoma's High Point

Friday was our day for another high point adventure. Reaching Oklahoma’s highest point required a real hike of 8.4 miles round trip.  We haven’t hiked in a while so expected it to be more difficult than it really was.

Summit marker

We got an early start--leaving about 7:30.  On our way out of the park we saw our first wildlife of the day--10 mule deer.  About halfway to the trailhead we saw a group of four antelope.

Black Mesa in the distance

At the trailhead, we got suited up, or at least that’s the way it seemed.  The cool temperatures required a jacket and Gene even had on his gloves.  We also put on gaiters as a precaution against snake bite.  Dressed for whatever might befall us, we headed out.  The trail follows an old jeep road for the first couple miles.  It was wide and easy to follow.  However, there were numerous paths crisscrossing the area so the green arrows pointing the way were helpful. The day started out cool, but warmed up quickly.  We shed our jackets within the first mile of the hike.

The trail was an old jeep road most of the way

At every mile mark there was a bench.  The benches were nice for resting, but we especially liked having a mile mark to keep track of our progress.

After about 2.5 miles we began our climb to the top of the mesa.  We passed the 3-mile bench along the way which offered a great view of the valley below.  Once we gained the top it was smooth sailing for the last mile to the summit.

A monument of Oklahoma Indian granite stands at the summit.  Pictures were made, of course, and I signed the summit register.  At the summit, we were only 4.7 miles from the Colorado state line and a mere 1299 feet from New Mexico.  After a short break, we headed down.

Trail to the top of the mesa

It’s always exciting to go to a state high point and today was no exception.  However, I think the highlight of the hike was the ten antelope which dashed across the mesa about 50 yards in front of us as we were approaching the high point.  They were beautiful and we had the privilege of witnessing the event.  Of course, they were moving far too fast for me to get the camera out of the case, focus and get a shot, so I just stood there spellbound and watched as they turned and headed out of view.

Mile 1 bench

Actually, it was an easy hike.  Pretty flat for the first 2.5 miles, then the climb of 632 feet up to the top of the mesa, then a mile across the top which was ever so slightly uphill.  The trip back to the car, of course, was all down hill.  However, it was a busy hike with dodging cow piles in the middle of the trail and watching for rattlesnakes.  From a distance I kept mistaking dried up cow dung for coiled snakes.  I didn’t learn until afterwards that I should have also been on the lookout for mountain lions and bear.

We completed the hike and were back at the car in just over 4 hours.  We were real pleased with that, all things considered.  After showers, it felt so good to sit down and prop the old, sore feet up.

Once again, it was a very windy day here.  We have decided to leave in the morning.  Hopefully, Colorado won’t be quite so bad.

Wildlife count for the day:  15 antelope, 10 deer, 4 rabbits, and a lizard.  Thankfully, we didn’t see a rattlesnake.

That’s it for Friday.  Thanks for tagging along.

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