Hike Date: May 14, 2016 | SLIDESHOW | PHOTO MOSAIC
Wendy and I spent much of the spring working on Meador Manor to prepare it for her move here in late June before our marriage on July 1. That meant we were unable to hike on multiple weekends, save for brief outings on familiar trails at Skull Hollow and the bike trails at Osage Hills. But in mid-May we did manage to hike a trail new to both of us: the Kite Trail in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
We took a break from housework to visit Lawton, in southeast Oklahoma, where Wendy’s brother was stationed at the Fort Sill army base. He and his family would soon be transferred to the east coast, so we met up with them for lunch. Then Wendy and I took advantage of our proximity to the wildlife refuge to take a nice walk.
I selected the Kite Trail, which is part of the Dog Run Hollow Trail System which I visited on Christmas Day in 2010. On that previous outing I had come in from the north and trekked south on the Bison Trail on the west side of West Cache Creek as far south as the canyon called the Forty Foot Hole. This time we would start from the south on the Kite Trail, which heads along the east side of West Cache Creek to Lost Lake and then back, in what turned out to be a very pretty 2.75 mile hike. In the future, I’ll favor the Kite Trail over the Bison Trail, although the challenging Narrows Trail farther east remains my favorite.
We took Highway 62 west from Lawton to Cache, and then drove north on 115 into the refuge. Turning west on 49, the main road in the western part of the refuge, we passed Quanah Parker and Burford Lakes before turning south to drive past Lost Lake and finally dead-end at the Boulder Picnic Area. At the farthest end of the loop is the Kite Trail’s south trailhead.
The vegetation was lush and green from recent rains, so I expected the creek to be running well. We were happy to find the granite hillsides covered in flowers, including large numbers of Indian Blanket, which back in 1986 was designated as Oklahoma’s state wildflower. As we travelled north near the creek, we encountered Indian Paintbrush, Spiderwort, Purple Poppy Mallow, many more Indian Blankets, and fields of yellow flowers.
This crevice carved by the creek is quite beautiful, with more falls on its north end. Some adventuresome boys provided scale in a photo and a brief video, and I shot a close-up showing the vertical bedding planes. As Wendy and I snacked above the falls, more young hikers passed by and made their way down. I got a shot of the Forty Foot Hole from its north end, with more falls to enjoy.
We travelled onward through the wildflowers, occasionally guided by old metal markers that revealed the Kite Trail is named for the bird, not the wind-borne toy. While Wendy took snaps of more wildflowers, a lizard carefully posed for me on the rocks. Wendy accidentally pressed the wrong button on her iPhone, but I liked the resulting Ansel Adams-style photograph of me shooting amidst the granite confusion.
Farther upstream, a large smooth boulder in the creek urged contemplation. A tree had thick bark that reminded me of scales, and there were prickly pear cactus blooms beginning to open. Wendy got a nice shot of some impressive Antelope Horns milkweed. Near Lost Lake, water running off a granite slab had brightened the vegetative border.
It had been a wonderful hike, something we could both reflect back on over the next few hectic weeks as we brought the academic year to a close.