Monday, October 27, 2008

Prince William Forest Hike

After pouring rain on Saturday, Sunday dawned with bright sunshine and dense fog. As I drove down to Triangle the fog was vaporizing off roads, tree tops and roofs of houses and by the time we started our hike, it was gone and the sun warmed our backs as we trudged through the forest.

This is a much prettier hike than I had imagined. Not really much of a workout as the terrain is relatively flat, but the trail often crossed over or ran parallel to creeks so the scenery was enchanting in the the morning sun.

The autumn colors had not peaked but still splashed the forest with oranges, yellows and reds that contrasted with the many greens still clinging to the branches.

We had lunch on a riverbank, sitting on a blanket of fall leaves with glinting rocks, and quietly chatted as we munched our healthy lunches of nuts, energy bars, tuna and fruit. We all gasped as without warning a blue heron glided low over our heads and disappeared downstream as silent as a ghost.

The tree above caught my attention with its carpet of pale green sphagnum moss, the kind used to line hanging baskets. It was soft and springy to touch and was the exact same hue as the lichen growing on the trunk of the tree. It covered only an area of about 20 feet wide and then stopped suddenly, making me wonder what conditions it needed to grow only in such a small area and not spread further.

This was our small but friendly group captured by the 10 second timer on my camera. The guy second from left, Marc, amazed me as being the most organized and prepared person I'd ever met on a hike. He was a great laugh and I was itching to grab his rucksack and rummage inside to find what amazing useful things it held. In his portable treasure chest, he had a hand held radio, a beacon locator, GPS, a snakebite kit, a trowel, a whistle, a compass, handwipes and plenty of other goodies I hadn't found out about. A lot to carry, but not for a guy used to having his small daughter on his back when hiking.

Along the way, we stumbled across this little chap on the side of the path. We'd come across a turtle earlier but he was less friendly and had closed his shell door in our faces, not wanting to humor me and let me take a photo. This one was far more accomodating and even managed to give a little grin. What a cute little mooey! That's 'face' in Britspeak.
We probably hiked about 7 or so miles before we reached the parking lot. Not a bad workout for the day.

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