September 17, 2012
As I mentioned yesterday, the return of cooler weather has lured me back out onto the trails. This past weekend two of my fellow teachers joined me for a hike down in Tulsey Town. Our initial goal was the Oxley Nature Center, but the road in Mohawk Park was blocked by some sort of run by military reservists.
That diverted us south to Turkey Mountain, which I’ve hiked a number of times. The urban wilderness, just west of the Arkansas River between I-44 and 71st Street, has seen some major improvements in recent years. There is a big new parking area with restrooms, better trail markings and signs, and even a fancy website these days. All of that has brought far more people out to the mountain to run and mountain bike, although the heaviest traffic seems confined to the red, blue, and yellow trails with far less traffic on the other unblazed trails and the newly blazed pink trail in the western part of the wilderness.
We sprayed our feet and pant cuffs with Cutter to ward off any ticks and headed out on the blue trail, completing that loop and then hiking north along the Powerline road until I veered us off northwest to Pepsi Lake.
I’d never heard of that name before, but a new sign proclaimed it so. I had steered us to the lake/pond to show my friends the weird row of abandoned truck bodies parked shoulder to shoulder along an old road on its northwest edge. A little online research later revealed those to all be old Pepsi bottle truck bodies from the nearby Pepsi plant, which explained the nomenclature.
There is a shot of the trucks from Marshmatt on Flickr. They aren’t the only big debris to be found on the mountain, which was a producing oil field a century ago. There are some large concrete bases left from old oil field engines, large spools of cable, and more. A rusting wheel attached some long wooden beams was sitting by one small pond off the blue loop, and the steadily diminishing remains of a pickup are slowly being scavenged away by the side of Powerline road.
We followed the newly blazed pink trail around Pepsi Lake and northeast back through the powerline cut to the north end of the yellow loop. Since this same group of friends had hiked the entirety of the yellow loop back in April, I led us down the less travelled track that runs directly between the low east side of the yellow loop near the Arkansas on the eastern edge of the mountain and the high ridge-running west side of the yellow loop.
We followed that middle trail back to the trailhead, having completed 5.6 miles. When I tried to save our GPS track in my MotionX app on my iPhone 4 (yes, I’ve ordered the iPhone 5, which should arrive in a couple of weeks), it complained there was already a track for Turkey Mountain from a previous foray. So I named this track Gobbler Mountain.
My friends and I had built up an appetite for some delicious food, so we retired to Kilkenny’s Irish Pub, where I feasted on a Chatsworth Boxty. That’s a potato pancake stuffed with chicken breast chunks sauteed with fresh garlic, shallots, mushrooms and red peppers in white wine, topped with white wine sauce. Oh, it is so good!
Boxty in the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you can’t make boxty,
You’ll never get your man.
And we shared some Irish Balloons for dessert: fried pastry balls dusted with powdered sugar and served with sweet Irish whiskey butter sauce. My good friend Carrie introduced me to Kilkenny’s and its Irish Balloons years ago, for which I’ll forever be grateful.
It was a fun outing and my friends will likely ask me to guide them on some more hikes around the area in the future. I’m learning to be more sociable on my hikes – I even tolerated a friendly dog on a 4.5 mile hike along the eastern end of the Elk River Trail in Kansas with another friend (not the dog) last month. And lord knows I do NOT like dogs, even if they want to be my best friend. But I’m really looking to autumn when I can head out for some long solo hikes on novel trails.