Thursday, November 12, 2015

Hiking and Wining in Castleton

Sunday was forecast to be a sunny but cold day with temperatures dropping as the day advanced. I was meeting Elizabeth and the gang for a hike on private land in Castleton which we were all excited about. One of the group's friends owns a 500 acre estate and the owner, John, was letting us hike the trails he's just recently marked out. This isn't far from home, either, and for the second day of the weekend I was able to drive without using any interstates. Bliss!
I arrived via back lanes and grinned as I saw this deer carcass on the road. It had obviously been here for a while and the locals were just driving around it. You wouldn't see this in suburbia! It had been completely surround by vultures when I slowly pulled up and now they were all sitting in the branches above me so I drove by carefully making sure I didn't knock their brunch.
I also passed these tiny 'houses' and had to stop and take a photo. They looked like miniature dwellings, had electricity running to them, and the middle one did actually look as though it was lived in. I'd love to see inside.
I arrived at our venue and drove through the gates, meeting the others on a grassy knoll next to a small field of grape vines.
In front of us was an impressive construction being built, apparently John's new home.
We said our hello's and got going, it was exposed up on the hill and the wind was cold.
We walked through fields and woods, among cows and tall grasses, the sun shining brightly and the wind not feeling so bitter now we'd got moving.
We had a few hills and dales to hike up and stroll down and noticed that John had marked the trails with metal markers on the trees. We heard from him later that he's still not finished this task, which would explain why we got a bit lost later!
We accidentally ended up at John's new home and felt a little uncomfortable at being so close until we heard that he was at the local store with a group of male friends, 'telling tales' of present and past, a wonderful community activity. So we looked with interest at the new structure with its huge chimneys and then walked down to his current abode, which he calls his beach house, complete with a sandy shore and palm trees on the lake. It was pretty impressive and we all stopped to pose on the beach.
And then we continued hiking, this time with an additional member. Ella, John's Boston Terrier, had joined us, and despite many attempts to send her back home, she ended up being our leader, trotting happily up front and occasionally circling us to make sure we were all present.
I wasn't fast enough with my camera here as we were all so gobsmacked to see little Bella, who had been behaving so impeccably, suddenly plop down in a muddy puddle and roll. I just managed to capture a shot of her after she casually got up, shook herself, and then resumed her trotting in front of us. We met John at a local winery afterwards where he informed us that he'd had to go looking for her up the lane. Apparently a 5 mile hike hadn't been enough for her, she'd carried on by herself!
At Magnolia Winery we all sat by the fire pits that the owner had prepared for us and shared our food with bottles of wine. John joined our group and promised we could hike on his land again in the future.and so ended my most excellent weekend, a couple of days filled with superb fun and friends.

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