Sunday, February 28, 2010

At first glance, Lake Thunderbird, the 7,000 acre lake located just east of Norman, does not appear to me much more than a small lake used by fishermen and the occasional boater. However, first impressions can be deceiving, and there is certainly much more to this little lake than meets the eye. Several miles of trails surround the lake, ranging from easy nature walks to full mountain biking trails complete with steep drops and jumps. Many locals say this is a great place to go to get away without actually having to get too far away.

Sophomore Braden Scott ventures out to Lake Thunderbird often for a variety of activities. “My friends and I like to get out here with our bikes and ride on most weekends when the weather is decent,” Scott said. “It’s just a really good way to blow off steam. The trail is set up so you can ride anywhere from one to about four and a half miles, and it never gets old.”

While the main trail, Clear Bay Trail, does have plenty to keep the mountain biker entertained such as both natural and manmade drops and some impressive downhill turns, the trails are also maintained well enough for hikers or runners to enjoy them.

“I come out to the lake for a lot of different reasons,” said sophomore Rachelle Barteau. “I run the trails whenever I can, and sometimes when the weather’s really nice I do homework by the water. It’s just nice to feel like you’re away from everything for a while, and the lake is the perfect place for that.”

Maybe you have been looking for an adrenaline-fueled mountain bike ride or maybe you just need a more interesting setting for your daily run. Whatever the inkling, the little lake just east of Norman can satisfy any outdoor need.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kickin' Off the Shoes

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get out and enjoy the world is to go for a run. Going for a run through a park, on an easy hiking trail, or just around town is a great way to get in some exercise and relieve some stress. The one problem some people have with running is the cost of shoes. It is not uncommon for runners to pay well over a hundred dollars for a good pair of shoes. However, more and more people are beginning to see this as a waste of money.

Barefoot running is not a new concept. For years, people have run barefoot both in training and in actual races. In fact, in the 1960 summer Olympics, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila ran the marathon barefoot and won with a world record time. However, it is not until more recently that this trend has gained popularity largely thanks to studies that have shown barefoot running to actually be more beneficial than running with shoes on.

A study released by Harvard Medical School this past January reports that after examining the running style of three groups of runners; one group that had always run barefoot, one group that had always worn shoes, and one group that had recently stopped wearing shoes, the barefoot runners clearly had the safer running style. According to the researchers, when wearing shoes, the heal strikes the ground first causing damaging impact to the body. However, while running barefoot people tend to land on the ball of the foot first with a springy forward step, reducing impact on the body.

Running barefoot through soft grass on a warm day has always been a very freeing experience, and as it turns out, running sans shoes benefits more than just the soul. So, next time you are in the mall trying to decide which hundred dollar pair of running shoes to buy, save some money instead. For a truly unique experience that can benefit your health and running style, simply get out there, kick off your shoes and go for a run.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Little Midwinter Fishing

In the cold, cloudy, and particularly in Oklahoma, windy months of winter, getting outside to spend some time in the little sunlight that is to be found can do wonders for someone’s mood. The problem is finding something to do outside with an inch of snow on the ground. Even the most steel-willed adventurer would think twice about hiking through the woods or scaling a cliff in a 20-degree wind chill. Not only can venturing into the wilderness in the fickle Oklahoma winters be dangerous, but also many camping areas are closed during the winter season.

However, this does not mean that outdoor lovers have to be stuck inside all winter long waiting on the snow to melt. In fact, Oklahomans can find a perfect outdoor winter getaway in a very unexpected place-a river. Just outside the little town of Broken Bow sits the Lower Mountain Fork River, a haven for anglers regardless of the time of year. Whereas the bass and catfish found in Oklahoma lakes are not active in the winter, the rainbow and black trout of this river can be seen jumping in the fast-moving white water year round.

The rapids here are fed by a hydroelectric dam at the beginning of the river, which means that regardless of water level, the river will always be moving fast enough for trout to be very active. During the late spring and summer months, the river becomes a popular destination for kayakers looking to run the rapids. However, once the temperature drops and the tourists subside, people come from miles around to test their luck at fly-fishing.

The beauty of the Lower Mountain Fork is the feeling of seclusion the river provides. While standing in the cold shallow water casting a fly, civilization feels a million miles away; yet, the warmth of a car heater is only a few steps away making this secluded river the perfect place to beat cabin fever during these long cold winter months.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This picture of Gaylord Memorial Stadium was taken for another school project. This is the kind of picture that people expect to see of Norman. A quick google image search turns up countless pictures of local restaurants, clubs and of course, the OU campus.
What people do not associate with Norman, Oklahoma, however, are mountain biking trails, sailboats, or backcountry camping. Yet, these are just a few of the outdoor opportunities in and around Norman.
Oklahoma can be an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. You just have to know where to look. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, this blog can provide a little insight in to just where that is.

The Trial Run

This is a picture for my "portrait without a person" project. Honestly, the picture has nothing to do with what this blog is about, but this post is kind of a trial run of sorts. The good news is, the blog can go only go uphill from here.