Monday, May 14, 2012

New Shoes - New Trails

This past weekend I was invited to go camping at Tulsa Ozark Club.  I was also able to find some new trials and try out my new shoes.  Since TZTrailGuide.com does not yet describe this area I thought I would help out and write a Trail Zombie-style review.  I wonder if he will get the hint...


Since not even Google can find  Tulsa Ozark Club I should be careful what I disclose (hit, it is located on Spavinaw Creek in Mays County).  This was a reunion weekend for our YMCA Indian Princess group (more about that in my next story).  We stayed in the main lodge which is a wood building about 100 years old full of 100 year old furniture (including the kitchen).  Very rustic and very relaxing.  They do have "rules" on technology including radios, headphones, TVs, Internet.  I quietly hid my Garmin watch...


I didn't get many pictures of the lodge, but here is my room for the night.  
Which only captures some of the charm of the lodge.
As I was packing I made sure that I packed my trail shoes in case I wanted to run while the kids slept late.  I figured I could find something even if it was gravel roads in rural Oklahoma.  I looked at Google maps and saw a few country roads but also a Wildlife Management Area a few miles away via a paved road.  At the lodge I looked at some of the old maps and articles hanging on the walls and discovered more roads in the area than shown on Google.  Then someone mentioned "The Back Way" - how to get to camp when the river was above the main bridge.  They said they were no signs, almost impassible, steep hills and overgrown.  BINGO!  This sounded like the perfect place to run.


While the girls decided on a afternoon float trip, I decided to search for new-to-Mitch trails - with my new shoes of course (thanks to Kathy at RunnersWorld Tulsa).  So I loaded up my supplies and head south to find "the back way".  And I found what I was looking for - gravel roads, beautiful green stuff and sounds of nature.
There was also the smell of rotting flesh in this area, but let's move on.
I first encountered a couple of spectators.  Great cheering, but their aid station was a bit limited on supplies.


I then met an interesting couple - Sam and Stacy, owners of resort/ranch along my first gravel road.  They wanted to let me know (in their own way) that I was on their property, they knew what I was doing and would be watching me.  I let them know (in my own way) that I was currently on a public road - of course it sounded more like "Yes Sir" when said out loud.


They also gave me a few pointers on scenic areas, short cuts and gates into the Wildlife Management Area.  I'll have to track them down and thank them on my next visit.  Sam's last comment was "Watch out for Rattlesnakes".


I took off up the hill which curved around a very pretty bluff (I was too scared to get close to the edge for a good picture.  Once I got to the top of the hill, I discovered this wasn't the only hill between me and cold beer by a cold creek.  That certainly explained all of the tight lines on the topo map...
This was the "up hill" that Sam was kind enough to tell me about.  There were a couple of switchbacks to make the climb easier.  Just enough to get your directions turned around...
I then turned onto a rough jeep trail and found my way into the wildlife area.  Here are a few pictures of things I saw on my 12 mile journey.


I was directed onto a rough jeep road into a wooded area - which I followed without a second thought.

I found the entrance into the Wildlife Management Area.  I'm not going to say if I was licensed/passported/exempt or if was inside or outside of this barricade - so lets just say this gate was low enough for "a guy I know" to step over it.

I ran on about 3 miles of jeep road or gravel road.  All was well packed and easy to run on.  
However, I would not call any of it "relatively flat".


With a name like this I was expecting to see some wildlife.
I wonder if this connects to Pumkin Hollow Rd?

No groundhogs, but just a drowned mole.  Who knew a mole could drown above ground?
You would think with those big hands they could swim.
I guess the management team is doing a great job with the critters because I saw one more...  A rattlesnake slithered off into the woods quickly - but rattling enough that I knew not to follow.  I would have taken a picture but the angle was bad.  Well, the angle was bad because I was three feet in the air, screaming and feet peddling like Fred Flintstone not going anywhere.


This sign was actually on the main highway but one of the more interesting.  Yes, that was a steep hill, Yes it was about a mile up.  What wasn't shared - it's another mile downhill to the main office.  Which means - Yes, you had to go back up and over that hill.
The main office sign needed a little bit of work, but the sign was cool but creepy in a way.  I didn't see any human bones hanging on it, but I also didn't stay around long to get a close look.

After I left the Wildlife Area on the east side I was on a two-lane highway that took me over the main bridge across Spavinaw Creek.  This is a view of Eucha Lake from the hilltop.  This is my first time seeing this lake.
I thought it was odd to see a broom littering the local highway.  Ironic or coincidence?  I suppose these guys really care about clean roads and someone left a broom for the next guy.
This is the head of Spavinaw Creek and a view of the Eucha dam from the bridge.
Local charm...
It was great to see the main gate to the Tulsa Ozark Club.  
This was a great run - 12 miles and three hours of sight seeing that money can't buy.  I would upload my route but somehow I lost my Garmin before I got home.  I hope to find it soon and add my course.  I did get a copy of the Wildlife Management Area map on my way out.
I can't wait to go back.  I'm hoping someone gets the hint that this would be a fun T-TOTs field trip.

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