Among the Gourds and Gravel

In all my 50+ plus years of living in Oklahoma I have never been to the top of Mount Scott. So this past weekend, I took off to see it. Mount Scott is located in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, Oklahoma. It rises to 2,464 feet above sea level and towers over the surrounding area. There is a three-mile long road that takes you to the top.

View of Mount Scott from Oklahoma Highway 49.

It seems obviously I wanted to overland there. For the most part you can get very close to the mountain on gravel roads from the east. This is how I did it for the most part.

I left Norman and headed south on I-35. As soon as I crossed the South Canadian river I turned on to Highway 9 West as it is known there. At the first county road I turned south on Santa Fe. I went down to 290th and then east. I wandered south on May and skirted Dibble, Oklahoma. I’m not sure how I got to River Road but I took it east and crossed the Washita River north of Alex Oklahoma. I took CR1450 out of Alex. At some point I managed to get on Rocky Ford (there were no fords of any kind) then down to King Road and took it east and crossed over the Turner Turnpike.

Here are some random pictures of the roads. The gravel roads were mostly the same and not terribly photogenic. Unfortunately there weren’t a lot of “interesting” things to see. I would like to try to find the Coonhunters Club again. It was a basic tin barn and perhaps a social club of some sort. The sign said “visitors welcome”. I’m taking that as a dare. I didn’t see much wildlife. A few deer, vultures, and very interestingly a hare and a turtle which I saw on the way home. I came up on the jack rabbit who was not to interested in getting off the road. Not 50 yards on up the road, there was a turtle in the road. If they were racing in the same direction as I was travelling the turtle was winning. I saw one llama. He seemed a bit mangy so my new favorite cut-down phrase is “you are a mangy llama”.

This will get you to the paved highways and roads near the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is open range and you may see antelope and buffalo. You are advised to give them the right of way. Buffalo are not to be trifled with.

As I mentioned previously, there is a 3 mile long road that takes you to the top of the Mount Scott. I took it and found the top quite busy and packed with cars and motorcycles. There were clouds and the air seemed hazy but it never let loose with any rain. I climbed out on to one of the boulder fields on top and had a light snack while I looked out over the range.

Here’s some pictures.

A careful eye should be kept out for rattlesnakes not only on the mountain but in the area as well. I know of one young Marine who was exploring the area and was bitten. In the end, he lost a part of a leg and nearly his life from the encounter. His fellow Marines were able to get him down the rocks and got life-flight to get him to OKC where they were able to save his life.

On the mountain I saw a humming bird and a mountain chickadee, and many, many Homo sapiens of nearly every kind.

I coasted down in 2nd gear and barely had to use the brakes. I turned west and northerly. I was determined to find gravel and start the trek home. Scenic Highway 115 is indeed that, scenic. It takes you to Meers, Oklahoma, which is merely a turn in the road with a famous hamburger restaurant. People had the road mostly clogged and were standing in line in the sun to eat expensive hamburgers. You can read about them here Meers Store they claim to be “world famous”. I’ve never eaten there. I don’t wait in line for hamburgers. Have these people never heard of Five Guys?

I found some gravel that took me in the general direction of north and west and I took it.

The corner of King and 197th

The road home gave me samples of the geodes used to build buildings. From Saddle Mountain on north there were many examples.

 

The abandoned house above was really close to the road. It may have been lived in recently but it was rough. Google maps shows the shop next door still there and cars in the driveway. The shop was burned down and no cars were around on a Sunday afternoon.

The title of the post was about gravel and gourds. Lining the roads throughout the Oklahoma southwest were the gourd plants. Cucurbita foetidissima has many common names. They are an important part of the Native American culture. You can read about gourd dancing at PowWows.com. The gravel is locally sourced granite. I prefer the smaller size gravel as it doesn’t eat tires like the larger size.

I wandered northerly and found myself along side Lake Chickasha. If you take county 2730 north past the lake it will make a turn on to E1290. Once you leave the pavement on 2730 this was by far the most interesting of the roads that day.

I had missed the mud by only a day. It looked like it would be fairly challenging. High road sides, ruts, deep ditches on one side (35.145687, -98.121171) and a hill that the county decided needed partial asphalt as it would impossible for a car to go up when it was wet (35.145682, -98.119356).

This is also where I encountered the kid on the golf cart. I know what you are thinking, if a kid on a golf cart can make this stretch how hard could it be? You are correct, but remember this was a dry track when I encountered it.

The kid putted along it was just as well because going faster than 15mph would rattle your teeth loose due to the ruts. He was looking off to the side as he drove. There were lots of tracks. Some deer, raccoon, and perhaps a possum. The kid finally turned around. I stopped to talk.

I said, “There were some big deer tracks back there.”

He replied, “Not many grasshoppers this year.”

I’m not sure if this is standard fare for this region of Oklahoma so I left it with a “uhhh, yeah, too wet” and kept driving.

Overall I had a good time. Getting some windshield therapy is always a good thing. This road in the summer was very dusty. If you were more than three or four vehicles you might be stretched out for a mile. The dust is terrible when you are right behind another vehicle.

There were a lot inaccuracies on my electronic maps. Heading in both directions. There were several times where the map showed a road that wasn’t ever there. There were many marked roads that ended and we demonstrated on the map as going through. Lots of driveways are marked as roads as well. Like many other places be prepared to turn around.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

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