It’s summertime at last! Kind of – the temperature has been in the mid-50s the last few days. But last week was final exam week, and so Elizabeth and myself are officially graduates of the University of Oklahoma. At the moment, I’m working part-time at the Mesonet, but otherwise our schedules are open for seizing the day right now. After taking the weekend to relax a little bit and recharge from exam week and graduation, we drove up to Fairview on May 11 to check out Gloss Mountain State Park. What followed may have been one of the randomest parks I’ve ever seen.
The Gloss Mountains aren’t mountains so much as they are a series of mesas that are pretty ubiquitous across northwest Oklahoma. These are a fair amount taller than most, rising 150-200 feet above the surrounding Plains according to Wikipedia. U.S. Highway 412 cuts right through the Glass Mountains, and at some point the locals around Fairview decided that they could take care of a state park in their spare time. The state park is literally a parking lot off of 412 and then a trail heading up the nearest mesa. That’s it. Like I said: random.
The trail up Cathedral Mesa is short, but treacherous. The Gloss Mountains are so named because of the gypsum desposits within them. You can see it above in the whitish nature to the rock. Note: gypsum is slippery to walk on, especially when you don’t want to touch the handrails because of the coronavirus pandemic. Also, some of the staircases (built by Eagle Scouts!) up the side of the mesa were sketchy.
This is pretty much it. A long, narrow mesa with a trail along the top. The view was pretty expansive – we could see the full sweep of the Plains in every direction around us, with the only signs of civilization being the distant semis on 412 and the ever-present Oklahoma oil pumps. I’m sure it would have been even more enjoyable on a warmer day, but with temps in the mid-50s and a brisk breeze, we didn’t want to stay *too* long. The nice thing was that apart from two older men who were walking down the mountain as we walked up, there was nobody else in the park with us. And when I say nobody, I mean nobody – no park staff, no other visitors. It was rather peaceful, except for the moment when Elizabeth and I screamed “We are meteorologists!” at the top of our lungs from the peak.
Despite the gloom, it is May, so the mountain was teeming with blooming flowers:
Fortunately, that wildlife did not include rattlesnakes. I’ll assume that it was too cold for the snakes to come out of their holes.
In all, we were maybe at the park for a little over an hour. Considering we had to drive 2 hours there and 2 hours back, it may have seemed like a bit of a weird use of a day, but it was definitely a memorable way to celebrate our new professional selves!