Socially distant summer fun in the Wichitas - MetroFamily Magazine
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Socially distant summer fun in the Wichitas

by Erin Page

One of the ways I have always recharged is through travel, and for my family of five in the summertime that often means a quick day trip to inject fun into a typical week. With a Type A (very Enneagram 1) personality, I find it almost impossible to step away from the demands of my household and career unless I physically remove myself from them (and that’s not always possible during this season of quarantine and global pandemic). While travel looks very different this summer, we’ve found with some creativity and flexibility, mini-getaways are still safely doable.

My three kids have fallen in love with hiking this summer (as long as the timeframe isn’t too long, it’s not too hot and snacks are provided). This newfound family fun activity has opened up much more to see and do in and around OKC and our state. I love the combination of moving our bodies in the fresh air, taking in new scenery and seeing the world through my kids’ inquisitive and adventurous natures.

We recently ventured to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton for a day trip to enjoy the rugged landscape, a little hiking and beautiful views. Some of the park is closed, including the visitor’s center, campsites and some of the trailheads, but we found plenty to occupy us for a morning. After hearing that weekends can get crowded at the refuge, we opted for a Friday morning and were easily able to social distance from the few other visitors we encountered on the trails. It’s also possible to enjoy much of the park from your car if you prefer not to get out. The highlights of our trip were:

  1. Scouting out wildlife. We didn’t catch a glimpse of bison on this trip, but we did see quite a few longhorns, some dozing in the shade of the trees, which made it even more fun to try to point them out from the road. We saw a slithering snake glide across the road in front of our car, ducks on the lake, squiggling millipedes on the trail and plenty of colorful butterflies. We didn’t bring our gear on this trip, but several fishing spots are open.
  2. Hiking up boulders. We started with a short, shady walk across from the Environmental Education Center. Though the center itself is closed, the short paved trail took us to a fishing dock and around lush greenery right on Lake Quanah Parker, perfect for littles. Next, we ventured to the dam on Lake Quanah Parker where the views are stunning and trails have you scampering over boulders. We didn’t attempt the final summit on this trip but would head back to conquer it when the temps are cooler. Take plenty of water if you plan to hike during the summer months especially.
  3. Driving up Mount Scott. While the rest of my party thoroughly enjoyed this breathtakingly beautiful trek winding up the side of the mountain, it reminded me of how I feel about heights! Once at the top of the mountain, we enjoyed the view (me on shaky legs) and climbed around a bit, probably less than my kids would have liked but plenty for my mama nerves. Walking around the summit was truly incredible as we could see for miles, and we enjoyed our picnic lunches while taking it all in.

This quick trip to the Wichitas just whetted our appetite to return, reminding me of the beauty of being in nature and exploring our close-to-home wonders. Sometimes the simplest of experiences turn out to be the most cherished.

 

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