An hour from Altus, Oklahoma sits the Wichita Mountains, which provide some proper hiking. So when Ben requested a hike, we piled in the car to Cache, home of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.
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My brother came for a long weekend recently! As our first guest we got to do all sorts of firsts with him: take him to the local museum, play in our first snowstorm, try Braums. He even helped Logan build a kitchen table, which I’m thrilled about and will share more of that later.
Our part of Oklahoma is a little funny, because it’s very very flat. For miles and miles. There are a few large rock formations (locals call them mountains, but even compared to the Appalachians they’re more like hills), but they’re few and far between.
The Wildlife Refuge was one of the first things people told us about when we moved here. In addition to great hiking year-round, there are bison and longhorns roaming, a prairie dog town, and a replica of Jerusalem called the Holy City. Historically, someone started building it to help Sunday school kids get a feel for Jesus’ last days before the crucifixion, but I’ll report back more once we’ve actually visited.
We wanted some mountaintop vistas, so we headed for the Elk Mountain trail. While usually it’s one of their most popular, it was cold and snowy enough that we pretty much had the trail to ourselves.
Confession: we ended up off-trail for most of the time. We missed the trailhead and instead took a more circuitous route to the top, but found the trail on our way back down. My advice: use the trail. 😉
It was one of those crisp mornings that would take your breath away if the wind hadn’t already. The sun made the snow glitter as we scrambled up. The great thing about hiking in the snow is the way it changes the landscape. Everything becomes fresh and new, quiet and perfect. There’s more chances for slipping (hey, icy rocks) but the risk is so worth it.
The wind didn’t get to us much until we reached the ridge, but be ready for it when you crest it! I swear the temperature dropped another 15 degrees once we made it to the top.
Cacti surrounded by snow was new to me. Unusual, but beautiful. I’m beginning to love this new landscape I find myself in.
After the hike, we stopped by the prairie dog town. Don’t you love them? They remind me of fat little meerkats. They occasionally “barked” at us if they thought we got too close, but overall didn’t seem to mind us if we stayed on our side of the fence.
The hike itself takes a couple hours, perfect for a morning spent in the fresh air! Next time we’re bringing a picnic lunch and making a day of it. Holy City, anyone?