I have officially lived in Oklahoma for more consecutive years than I have lived anywhere else. This is an impressive feat given that I am a military brat. Due to my nomadic lifestyle, I often get bored of my surroundings quickly. However, I recently noticed that Oklahoma is not too shabby if you know where to look.
Mount Scott – 2,000 and Some Feet Above Comfort Zone
You stare up at the peak of the mountain and quickly realize that your level of fitness has been lacking this past year. Luckily, you and the homies had stocked up on some water bottles and Clif Bars for bodily fuel at a gas station with an obnoxiously large McDonalds on the way down. Stepping out of the vehicle that now has the “check tire” gauge lit up because the temperature dropped, you find a notice that the gates at the bottom will be barring vehicle passage until noon.
The time is currently 8:30 AM, and you realize you left the Edmond area around 7:00 AM for the over hour and a half drive. You consider that the officer that pulled you over on the way down may have actually been in the right about your speeding. Brushing off the thought, you stare at the winding road that loops twice around the mountain before reaching the summit.
After careful consideration, you decide that the walk up may take longer than you would like. Plus, it’s early February and the Oklahoman winds hold no sympathy for hikers. You and the homies decide to save time and climb the rocks instead.
At 100 feet, you revel in the excitement that accompanies leaping from boulder to boulder. Adrenaline warms you against the chill as the friction supplied by each rock makes for a wonderful foot hold. You thank the winds for which you had brought gloves because the staccato texture of the rocks are sure to gouge climbers’ bare hands. Perhaps such injuries are what gave the rocks their reddish hues.
At 500 feet, the gaps between rocks vary between “Oh, look, another rock” to “Hot diggity damn, am I looking into Cthulhu’s lair?” Your buddy Kendall is in worse shape than you, so you, he, and Chandler decide to rest for a spell and chat about the sights. Nothing much yet, but, similar to the atmospheric pressure, they will soon take everyone’s breath away.
At 1000 feet, you all notice what looks like a giant bonsai tree growing out of the side of a rock. You take a brief respite before scaling the cliff to get a closer look. Chandler finds a tattered t-shirt stuck in a small cave while you and Kendall find that the opposite side of the tree had been damaged by last year’s ice storm.
At 1,500 feet, Kendall is wishing he had taken the trail instead, but you and Chandler encourage him to keep climbing, as it would be much more dangerous to climb down than it would to reach the peak and walk down the trail.
At 2,000 feet, you all begin to wonder what all these piles of pellets of poop belong to. You think they belong to mountain goats. Chandler suggests bobcats. Kendall seems to know what’s up when he says, “Jackrabbits with honky-tonk badonkadonks.” The path to the summit has gone from steep to vertical, but climbing down remains out of the question.
At 2,200 feet, you find a leaf-stained railing that runs alongside the trail to the summit. You assure Kendall that you are almost there and climb faster to reach the trail. Once you all have your feet planted firmly on safer ground, you all jog the rest of the way to the top.
At the summit, you celebrate with water bottles and cheers of victory. You stare at the view of Southwest Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains. The consistent twirling of windmills against the frosted skyline; the rippling shimmer of Lake Lawtonka’s choppy breaths; the serenity of Elmer Thomas Lake in comparison to the south; the resilient smiles of the friends that agreed to your spontaneous adventure.
The excitement boils over in conversation as you work your way down the trail against the wind that now seems far less threatening. The mantra of “We just fuckin’ did that!” reverberates with each upward glance to the trees dwarfed in comparison to the rocks you had scaled.
On returning to the bottom, you can hardly believe that the trail stretched three miles, as the walk seems like nothing against the climb. What an exhilarating way to spend a Sunday morning.