I was excited/nervous as Dad and I made our way to the trailhead for Black Mesa in Oklahoma. I figured the hike would be sort of like White Butte in North Dakota, only longer. I thought the hike started at Black Mesa State Park. We pulled in and asked a few people if the hike starts there and one man replied, “Well, you can start the hike here, but it’d take you a day or two!” before giving us directions to the spot a bit farther down the road where the trail ACTUALLY starts.
We arrived at the trail head in the mid afternoon. Dad decided he was going to wait in the car and I grabbed my water, camera and other essentials and headed to the gate. We actually had pretty clear cell service there and my Dad was face timing my Mom to show her the view. As I took off she snapped a few screenshots.
I knew the first 2 miles would be fairly flat and then it would be a pretty steep incline for about a mile to the top where it would flatten out again to the actual highpoint. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. It was a bit hot, but there was a cool breeze now and then that kept me feeling refreshed.
I followed the trail markers along and somewhere between mile 1 and 2 there was a fork in the trail. I spoke to someone in the parking lot who warned me about this point. He said it would be just a pole with no sign and it would look like you should go right, but I should stay straight. I am really glad he warned me because I definitely would have gone to the right. He told me there would be a bunch of cows around that spot too. As I took a few steps down the trail I saw a head pop up out of the brush which startled me a bit. Cow. “Oh hi!” I said to which she just lazily lowered her head and continued to munch on grass. There were quite a few cows around as I continued down the trail, but most of them were pretty far off the trail.
Right after mile 2 the trail started going up….and up…and like, straight up. I would take a few steps and catch my breath – and repeat. I have exercise induced asthma and this system works for me – slow and steady! Each time I stopped I would turn to admire the view so I could have a visual reminder of why I was doing this. I was in no rush…except when I thought of my Dad waiting in the car baking in the sun I would try to pick up the pace.
Up and up I went until I finally made it to the top. The view was incredible – I could see the trail where I had come from and cows dotting the landscape far below. I stood there for a while admiring the view and feeling the gentle wind cool me off – this is what it’s all about.
I continued down the trail – relieved to be on flat ground again, giving my lungs and legs a break. I thought I would be able to see the high point monument right away, but I couldn’t. I had to hike most of the way there before I got my first glimpse of it. Of course, since I had excellent cell reception up there I face timed my dad so he could see what it looked like. After a quick glance my Dad said, “OK! Come back down!” I took a last look around, signed the log book and made my way back down the trail.
Dad asked me if anyone had caught up to me and I said no I was alone at the top. He told me there were 2 people who started about 45 minutes after me – an older gentleman and a younger guy. As I reached the steep portion I passed the younger guy and as I kept hiking I started to worry a bit about the older fellow that I didn’t come across yet.
I made my way down the steep part of the trail and kept thinking I was so glad it wasn’t raining – I would have had a very hard time getting down. As soon as I reached the bottom a few cows came to congratulate me – well they were mostly just crossing to the other side of the path, but it was cool to see them so close. One of them followed me curiously for a bit and I told her she could come home with me. 🙂
I rounded a bend in the trail and came across another group of cows. Most of them looked at me lazily but one right in the middle of the path immediately turned its butt in my direction – and she had the meanest look in her eyes I have ever seen a cow give. I figured if I talked to her a bit I could win her over and get her to scoot off the trail. This cow did NOT want to be friends though and since I didn’t want to get kicked I hung back and gently said, “Hi! Could you please mooove to the side of the trail?” (See what I did there?) “Just trying to pass through.” The cow continued to glare at me. I took a step forward and the cow re aimed her rear. I waited patiently until she made the decision to cross to the other side of the trail – all while keeping an eye on me. I circled wide around her and as I passed she whipped her head around – the look on her face hadn’t changed a bit. I continued down the trail a few steps and turned back. Yup she was still standing there, glaring, rear end aimed in my direction in case I decided to return. I am not sure what exactly I did to have that much anger directed at me. “I’m on your side!” I told her as I walked away, “I’m a vegetarian!!!”
I am a huge animal lover (the type of person who, after a rain, will pick up any worms I see on the sidewalk and put them back into the grass so they don’t shrivel up) but this cow could go pound sand.
Sometime after that I noticed a text from my dad – “Where are you?” I knew something was wrong. I replied that I was about a mile away from the car and picked up the pace a little bit. We figured it would take me about 4 hours round trip. I checked the time and was closing in at the 4 hour mark so I knew I had to be close to the parking lot. Eventually I saw my dad hiking down the trail towards me. When I met up with him he told me the older man was already back at his car, claiming he made it to the top and back in under 3 hours. The man’s shirt and arms were completely covered in blood. When my dad asked if he saw me the man said no which worried my dad. Dad asked him if he made it to the top and he snapped “YES.” Then the man told my dad he took a “more circuitous route” to the top when my dad asked again if he saw me. okkk….as far as I know it is on private property and only one way to the top.
and then there’s this:
(of a route or journey) longer than the most direct way.
Not gonna lie – we had to look up what it meant, but an 85 yr old covered in blood told my dad he took a LONGER route to the top and made it back WAYYY before I did and didn’t see me. Yeah, my dad was worried.
After talking about it what we THINK happened was the man started to go up the steep part, fell and then decided to turn around because he was bleeding. If he did make it to the top good for him, but we never crossed paths.
Also I have NEVER heard the word circuitous before IN MY LIFE. In the next 24 hours since the man said it to my dad we heard that word 3 more times! How weird is that? It was in our audiobook, on the news, and on a sports show we were watching. So weird!
And this makes state high point #30 for me!
ANYWAY – this was an amazing hike. Go check it out if you get a chance! 🙂
HAPPY TRAILS! 🙂