Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Day of Summits

Saturday was a beautiful fall day and I met with friends to hike Sky Meadows Park. This is only a few miles from home so it was a luxurious feeling knowing that I only had to drive a short distance and not the lengthy trips that I usually have. Once at the park we didn't hang about and promptly started walking, almost immediately heading up an incline to the top of the mountain.
It was a long haul to the top but the views were magnificent. And I was pleased to see others huffing and puffing a lot more than me as we trudged upwards!
Bob loudly exclaiming that we could see all the way to Paris from here. The Paris we know is a tiny settlement at the bottom of the hill comprising of a church, a restaurant and a few houses, but it is very pretty.
We stopped in the shady woodland for a water break. Bob also commented on the 'shirtorically' challenged guy at the back, who most of us women were giving a wide berth. Bob urged us not to lag behind...
We hiked through pretty meadows, woods, and rocky trails. The downhill climb was a little precarious with many loose rocks tripping us up or causing us to slide, but we reached the bottom with zero casualties and by the time we'd got back to the start we'd hiked 7 miles.
We'd all brought lunch so sat and chatted while we munched, still enjoying those spectacular views. This is a fun group and I've got to know a few of the members quite well, we always have a lot of fun.
We saw these 2 guys and wandered if they were walking the Appalachian Trail, some of which we'd covered on our hike. I would love to be able to afford to take 6 months off from work and do this hike myself. What an adventure that would be and if I had half the tales of Bill Bryson who wrote a Walk in the Woods about his attempt at the mountain hike, I'd be more than content. Maybe one day...
A Raptor Rescue group was at the park teaching folks about the birds. It was wonderful to see a Barn Owl close up since I have 3 of these living in the old grain silo next to the house. The other pretty bird was a North American Kestrel. There was also a table with a lot of dead animals on it. I didn't want to take photos as it felt wrong but I did stroke everything there. An opussum, a raccoon, a fox, a groundhog and a skunk were laid out, I was surprised at how soft all their pelts were. There was also a red tailed hawk which was huge. There are a lot of these around Marshall and having always seen them from a distance I was amazed at how big they actually are.
After we were done with our lunch, we said our farewells and I decided to check out Hollins Farm close by, which had a pumpkin patch and apple orchards. Another steep incline had to be climbed but this time it was Stuart doing all the work while I marveled at the huge dust clouds that enveloped me and other vehicles as we slowly worked our way to the summit.
Again, fantastic views, and it felt strange to be amongst vegetables and fruit growing at such an elevation. The pumpkins looked wonderful but I declined to pick any as I hate carving them, they react with my skin. Shame, as I love the seeds when toasted with sea salt, but I loved seeing them for the first time growing in a field.
Everyone was enjoying the fields, taking photos and fooling around. I'd never seen so many radio flyer carts in one place before and made a note to remember to bring mine if I ever came here with friends. I'd come for apples though on this trip, so I grabbed a bag and continued the walk uphill to where the orchards stretched out above me. This hill never seemed to end!
There were many varieties growing and I made sure I had a few different kinds in my bag. Many apples were on the ground and I hoped these wouldn't go to waste. All I saw was gallons of apple cider! I filled my bag and went to stand in line with a great many others waiting to pay. But the line moved quickly. There were also fields here of various greens, onions, and potatoes. I would have loved to pick from those too but my face was feeling sunburned and I wanted to sit in a cool car. The apples were a lot cheaper that I had assumed and far cheaper than the grocery stores, and of course far fresher. I was going to enjoy these!

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