On clear nights the stars are always incredible at Sandy Sanders WMA! Somewhere around nine o’clock one night and before I got ready to cozy up in my sleeping bag, I ventured into the cold night air to admire the sparkling stars under a moonless and black dome. I was not disappointed. Even though January in Oklahoma is not the most favorable season to view the Milky Way, it could be seen faintly stretching northwest to southeast over my campsite. In fact the best view was behind my tent toward the northwest. It was very cold but the air was perfectly still. (On still nights Sandy Sanders can be sort of creepy because it’s so eerily quiet. The silence is broken only by the occasional coyote yelp.) Because my camera gear was locked inside my FJ, I knew condensation would not be a problem. I gathered my gear and set up to take a shot. A UCO candle lantern was burning and hanging from the top of the Big House Four tent from a loop creating a really nice yellow glow that helped to illuminate the rest of the campsite. Even though the Milky Way was faint, I still like the picture enough to use it as the background image of the menu on my blog. The two glows are the horizon are from Texola and Erick, small communities located 25 and 15 miles away as the crow flies.
I arrived at my campsite about 4:00 PM. It’s now 7:00, and I’m in the tent. There was no time or opportunity for photographs this evening. I did take a moment to walk the very short distance to the edge of the canyon to watch the closing moments of the sunset. My camp is all set up and ready for action. My tent is just the right size for me: Big House 4 by Big Agnes. I have a cot, a table, a chair, a Portable Buddy propane heater, and many more amenities that make it comfortable. I’m writing this by the light of my candle lantern. It’s hanging from a loop on the roof of my tent. It’s not bright but it lights up the entire tent. I brought the store of food into the tent tonight. There are no bears and since there was no time to cook supper, I plan on snacking tonight before going to bed. 5:30 AM is going to come early and it will be cold and dark.
I’m preparing to camp this upcoming weekend at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area in western Oklahoma. It’s been very cold for the past few weeks, but are predicting daytime temps in the upper 50s for the next several days. I’m taking advantage that and heading west. I’ll be camping in my three season tent and using a propane stove for heat at night. The sky should be incredible due to there being no moon at night. I can hardly wait.
I’ve begun walking for exercise, again. Right now it’s so cold outside I’m walking inside on a treadmill. I’ve just begun so I’m setting no records. I began a week ago walking 15 minutes at 2 mph. This weekend I started walking 30 minutes at 2 mph. However, yesterday I began having pain in my left knee and left hip; the one I had replaced. This morning I stopped after 17 minutes. I keep reminding myself I need to work into this gradually and not push myself into an injury that will force me to stop. Being patient and gradual increases will get me to where I want to be: able to hike small distances to put myself in a place of greater potential.
Open prairie and open skies are common in southwest Oklahoma. During winter, bareness contributes to the openness. Together, they combine to grip the landscape with a sense of loneliness.