Living Wild, March 2022

A March 2022 visit to one of my oldest hiking venues, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Oklahoma

Your host takes a moment to pose at a pharmacy in Marlow early in our trip to the Wichita Mountains. (Photo by Dan Marsh)
Your host takes a moment to pose at a pharmacy in Marlow early in our trip to the Wichita Mountains. (Photo by Dan Marsh)

I hadn’t been on a hiking trip to my old stomping grounds in several years, so I invited fellow photographer Dan Marsh to drive from his home in Arkansas to join me for a day in the Wichitas.

Dan arrived the evening before, since his drive from Arkansas took six hours. We made some images around the patch and in Ada’s Wintersmith Park, which you can see here (link).

Our first stop to make pictures was Elmore City, which not everyone knows is the town the movie Footloose was based on.

This building in the middle of Elmore City brags about being the "Home of Footloose."
This building in the middle of Elmore City brags about being the “Home of Footloose.”
Oklahoma 74 stretches south out of Elmore City.
Oklahoma 74 stretches south out of Elmore City.
I've watched this sign gradually become illegible in the last two decades.
I’ve watched this sign gradually become illegible in the last two decades.
I tried to take this rusty door and make it interesting, with only moderate success.
I tried to take this rusty door and make it interesting, with only moderate success.

A little farther down the road was Redbud Chapel in Marlow, Oklahoma, which I had seen many times but never photographed. We both noted how flat the light was, and planned to return on the same route, hoping for more energetic light.

This is Marlow's Redbud Chapel in the morning.
This is Marlow’s Redbud Chapel in the morning.
... and this is Redbud Chapel in late afternoon light.
… and this is Redbud Chapel in late afternoon light.
A blacktop road stretches south from Marlow.
A blacktop road stretches south from Marlow.
North of Marlow is Rush Springs, which claims to be the watermelon capitol of Oklahoma.
North of Marlow is Rush Springs, which claims to be the watermelon capitol of Oklahoma.
Downtown Sterling, Oklahoma is completely empty on a Saturday morning.
Downtown Sterling, Oklahoma is completely empty on a Saturday morning.
I don't know if this is a restaurant or a bar, or if it is even in business.
I don’t know if this is a restaurant or a bar, or if it is even in business.
Dan photographs the famous Meers Store. I've been eating at Meers since I was 10, though as an adult vegetarian, there are fewer selections. In 2012, I took Abby there, and she loved their longhorn burgers.
Dan photographs the famous Meers Store. I’ve been eating at Meers since I was 10, though as an adult vegetarian, there are fewer selections. In 2012, I took Abby there, and she loved their longhorn burgers.
Meers still has the same charm it did in 1975.
Meers still has the same charm it did in 1975.
I'm not sure if this is a study in color or irony.
I’m not sure if this is a study in color or irony.
Just south of Meers is the "Parallel Forest," a cedar plantation from the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. It's on the road into the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, so it's an obvious stop. Here, Dan makes pictures with his 10-24mm.
Just south of Meers is the “Parallel Forest,” a cedar plantation from the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. It’s on the road into the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, so it’s an obvious stop. Here, Dan makes pictures with his 10-24mm.
Winter of summer, sunny or cloudy, the "Parallel Forest" is a study in shape and texture.
Winter of summer, sunny or cloudy, the “Parallel Forest” is a study in shape and texture.
This is the signature view of the "Parallel Forest."
This is the signature view of the “Parallel Forest.”
Our first stop once we were actually in the Refuge was the Holy City of the Wichitas. Since I grew up in nearby Lawton, I happen to know that while it is a beautiful tribute to the faithful, it is also a popular spot for teenagers to drink or get high, though I did not.
Our first stop once we were actually in the Refuge was the Holy City of the Wichitas. Since I grew up in nearby Lawton, I happen to know that while it is a beautiful tribute to the faithful, it is also a popular spot for teenagers to drink or get high, though I did not.
Continuing on our westward journey, we stopped at the beautiful Quanah Parker Lake dam.
Continuing on our westward journey, we stopped at the beautiful Quanah Parker Lake dam.
Here is a deep textural view of the giant cog atop Quanah Parker Lake dam.
Here is a deep textural view of the giant cog atop Quanah Parker Lake dam.
This view looks south from the middle of Quanah Parker Lake dam.
This view looks south from the middle of Quanah Parker Lake dam.
Dan makes pictures of some prickly pear plants that burned in a recent wildfire.
Dan makes pictures of some prickly pear plants that burned in a recent wildfire.
The beautiful Kite Trail leads to Forty-foot Hole. It was sunny and mild, so there were quite a few people on the trail.
The beautiful Kite Trail leads to Forty-foot Hole. It was sunny and mild, so there were quite a few people on the trail.

From the Kite Trail we drove back east to Mount Scott. I’ve driven to the top of this area high point for 50 years, and it never gets boring.

Dan looks for a composition from the top of Mount Scott.
Dan looks for a composition from the top of Mount Scott.
Your host braves a cold wind atop Mount Scott. (Photo by Dan Marsh)
Your host braves a cold wind atop Mount Scott. (Photo by Dan Marsh)
The "one-way" marker holds the official U.S Geological Survey marker that indicates 2464 above mean sea level.
The “one-way” marker holds the official U.S Geological Survey marker that indicates 2464 above mean sea level.
A family makes a fun selfie on Mount Scott.
A family makes a fun selfie on Mount Scott.

By far the most interesting and photogenic item for the day was Medicine Park.

This is the garden spot of Medicine Park, and the photo everyone makes; so now I have the photo on file.
This is the garden spot of Medicine Park, and the photo everyone makes; so now I have the photo on file.
A picnic area has brightly-painted concrete tables and chairs.
A picnic area has brightly-painted concrete tables and chairs.
Some of the homes along Medicine Creek are built to resemble bird houses.
Some of the homes along Medicine Creek are built to resemble bird houses.
Medicine Park was hosting one of it's VW drive-ins.
Medicine Park was hosting one of it’s VW drive-ins.
I have often thought that I could camp in, and maybe live in, a VW microbus.
I have often thought that I could camp in, and maybe live in, a VW microbus.
The color in this image just explodes off the page.
The color in this image just explodes off the page.
There are lots of shops with curios and gifts in Medicine Park. Abby would have loved this place.
There are lots of shops with curios and gifts in Medicine Park. Abby would have loved this place.
Many of the structures in and around the Wichita Mountains are made from this type of indigenous round granite.
Many of the structures in and around the Wichita Mountains are made from this type of indigenous round granite.
Medicine Park is a study and color and contrast.
Medicine Park is a study and color and contrast.
Your host finds the angle. (Photo by Dan Marsh)
Your host finds the angle. (Photo by Dan Marsh)

You can read Dan’s account of this day here and here (links).