December 13, 2014
It was an overcast and somewhat dreary day, but Wendy and I needed a hike to help us recover from a burdensome week at work. We did not have the energy nor time to venture far, but I didn’t feel like re-treading the trails at Osage Hills or up at Elk City. So we drove 45 minutes southeast to Lake Oologah for my second visit, and her first, to Kight Hill.
The Will Rogers Country Centennial Horse Trail provides up to 18 miles of equestrian pathway along the south shore of Lake Oologah. The south end has a couple of miles of trail out on a hilly peninsula projecting into the lake. Websites and maps incorrectly refer to it as Kite Hill, not realizing it is actually named after H. Tom Kight, the Claremore legislator who sponsored the establishment of the Oklahoma Military Academy, now Rogers State University.
We parked at the end of the side road by the Outpost Mobile Home Park and trod the rather boring mile-long straight-away to the peninsula. The trail was slightly soft from an earlier light rain, but not too muddy despite the churning from horse hooves. We’d seen a herd of horse trailers at the official trailhead nearby.
So it was no surprise that we encountered a group of riders, who greeted us. The leader complimented us on our protection against hunters: I was wearing a bright orange knit hat and Wendy was in a bright orange vest. Deer gun season ended last weekend, but I figured some scofflaws might be a threat. After the riders departed, Wendy spotted a shotgun shell on the trail, and toward the end of our hike we would hear repeated shotgun blasts nearby.
The churned mud and horse manure impeded my enjoyment of Kight Hill, but I was glad to be out on a trail with frequent views of the lake. I spotted some rocks projecting out of the lake just before the trail turned away southward. The sky was finally showing some strips of blue amidst the clouds.
On the west part of the hill trail we could plainly hear the distant roar of the power plant, while on the south part the plaintive wail of train whistles and rumble of the rails of the many trains which intersect Claremore called out across the darkening afternoon sky.
We saw several snapped trees along the trail, with stairsteps of fungi decomposing them. When the main trail finished circumnavigating the hillside and climbed up top, I took a fork that led us away from the upper loop I had trod three years earlier. Soon I recognized Trail H, which I’d used for a steep descent on the earlier hike. This time my MotionX GPS app’s satellite map reassured me that the main path would eventually loop back down and Wendy and I took that longer, but still steep, way down.
We ended our trip with a tasty meal at the nearby Hammett House in Claremore, where I enjoyed a small steak and Wendy thoroughly enjoyed her seared pork loin with honey mustard glaze and cranberry relish. It had not been a good day for photographs, but at least we were back on the trails as we headed into finals week and then a much-needed Winter Break.