Yesterday (Saturday, 11/16/13) was a great day for a hike in the woods. I decided to attempt two circuits around Caesar Creek (each loop is roughly 14 miles). I was able to step out at 7:00 am knowing that sunset was scheduled for approximately 5:20. I knew that I would have to minimize my stops and average 3 miles per hour to finish the trek at a reasonable time. My feet were rather sore and my legs a bit weary but, with just two quick Builder Bar Breaks, I completed the two go-rounds about 4:45 pm (9 hours and 45 minutes).
The temperature was great – I didn’t even need my jacket. The wind was a little nippy but since most of the hike was in the woods, the impact of the cold wind was minimal. Not too much sunshine during the hike but I love the special ambiance of the fallen leaves within the November forest. Each season transforms the path with its uniqueness. November sheds the colorful leaves of October and provides a panoramic view through the barren branches that was hidden just a few weeks ago. I was struck by the beautiful sycamore trees standing bold and bright white against the darkened branches of their friends. The amazing contrast sets these majestic trees apart like royalty among the peasants.
Let me share three interesting aspects of this Saturday’s hike. First, the wildlife was rather scarce. I was walking up a fairly nice grade, keeping my head down watching for snake sticks and trip roots, when all of a sudden I hear a crashing sound coming out of the woods to my right… a deer?… a moose?…a bear?…a horse?…no – it was a deer hunter all dressed up in camouflage, mud on his face, carrying a compound bow. I have no idea where his tree stand was, but he sure instilled fear into my veins as he bush-whacked through the woods.
Second, I met a very interesting man – in fact he was one of only two people I talked to all day on the trail. I had just stopped for my second break of the day when he came walking up the path. He commented on my pack, noting that it was certainly not a daypack. I shared about my training for the A.T. and my excitement of making the thru-hike in the spring. I could tell that he knew a great deal about backpacking and as it turns out he is a volunteer trail manager at Caesar Creek who looks for blow-downs or other problems along the loop. He had not hiked the A.T. but had taken trips to Alaska, Arizona, and Kentucky. He is planning a multiple-day hike this summer to Peru’s Machu Picchu. He shared that he loves to do trail conservancy and all the hikes he has experienced were on crews to repair or construct or maintain the trails. It was a pleasure to meet him and to thank him for keeping Caesar Creek so nice for hikers like me.
Third, as I turned into the parking lot at the Welcome Center at 6:50 am I noticed that there were some trail runners just heading out. By the time I got my pack situated and my trekking poles adjusted, the runners were out of sight. About five miles into my hike I heard them coming down the trail. As I moved to the side to let them pass, I noticed that they were all middle aged ladies… all zooming down the path while chatting away. I was so impressed with their vitality and energy. As they passed by I thought how glad I was that I was not a trail runner because all of them would smash me in a race. I also thought about a great math word problem: If the runners left five minutes before me and if I hiked at an average rate of 3 miles per hour and knowing that the loop is 14 miles long and we passed one another at my 5 mile mark, how fast are the ladies running? (I came up with the answer of 25 miles per hour, but I think that’s slightly wrong)!
COUNTDOWN – 160 DAYS!
- Take a Hike Day 2013. (outdoorsy.gardenxl.com)