Sunday, June 7, 2015

Marshall Knobs Trail, Barfield Cresent Park, June 5, 2015

We decided to go for a semi-early hike Friday morning, and actually made it onto the trail by 9am (hey, I said "semi-early"). It was quiet and peaceful, a few people here and there, some with kids or dogs, but not overly crowded. This particular trail is paved for about .75 miles, then goes down some dirt stairs to the river, and becomes more of a "hike" and less of a "walk" for the rest of the 2.65 miles of the loop. We took a quick break for water and our #trailkisses photo along the paved area.

We stopped by the river for a break to enjoy the scenery and listen to the water burble. While there, we got to watch this guy for a while. He barely moved at all, until suddenly he swooped down, dipped his feet in the water, then swooped back up and looped around to land on the branch again. We're told he hangs out there a lot.

I didn't spend as much time taking photos this time, but there was one other image that caught our attention and I had to capture it. Rock Stacking! I did a tiny little bit on that last hike, but this was detailed and awesome. The reflection of the pointy rock behind it just adds to the whole thing.

This trail is a little steep for me in parts, wearing me out pretty quickly and requiring short breaks to catch my breath, but I'm sure the more we go, the easier it will get. There are two 1 mile loops off Marshall Knobs Trail that would make it into a 4.5 mile hike, and one day, I'd like to do the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Flat Rock Hiking Trail, Murfreesboro TN, June 1, 2015

"Let's go for a hike tomorrow."

And we did. We both started the day off feeling less than great (by a good bit) and I mentioned a couple times that I felt like curling up with TV shows and fanfic for the day despite how much I would like to do the things we had planned for the day. But somehow, that little switch that's flipped in us both made it just easy enough to break our routine. We got dressed, pulled out the hiking boots, packed a picnic lunch and extra water bottles, and took off!

A Google search for nearby hiking led me to info on the Flat Rock Cedar Glades and Barrens Hiking Trail  just over ten minutes from our house. Early in the trail, we came across a field of echinacea that had several butterflies and dragonflies fluttering about. I swear I saw at least 5-6 of each at one time! It felt like a scene from A Secret Garden or something - magical. See that dragonfly to the right there? I had much better views throughout the day, but this is the only one I caught with the camera.

And then as I was taking photos, this big ole' bumble bee buzzed around the flower I was zoomed in on. I watched as he walked all the way around the cone of the flower and managed to capture this just as he came around the side and before he flew off (right in my direction - eek!). I just love it when I get cool photos like this. :)

As we followed the trail I stopped for a nearly ridiculous amount of photos - so many beautiful views, gorgeous wildflowers, and unexpected finds. If you'd like to view all the photos (and haven't already) you can see the full Google album here. I'm posting my favorites here, though. Consider this the top highlights. :)

Starting with the best company I could have asked for - my lovely wife, Heather.

I had a serious bit of deja vu once we got to the spot where the loop meats up with the first bit of the trail - it opens up from a tree-lined path to a clearing with a circle of trees around the edge along both forks of the path. Heather chose to start to the right, and in my overlapping memory daze, I stumbled after her. At one point, I decided to leave the trail to try and get a better view of the beautiful orange flowers that just popped all throughout the field. It made me smile to learn later that Heather was watching me and taking a photo of me we I wandered in my own little world.

By the time I was finished here, it was starting to rain but we figured we could keep walking in the rain - so we did. I'd guess it was maybe 20 or so minutes of rain, some of which was partly sheltered when we got to another heavily treed area, but we were still quite wet by the time it stopped. And you know what, I didn't even care. I told Heather a few times on this hike that it was the best I'd felt in a couple weeks and I wanted to enjoy every minute of it that I could.

Just toward the end of the rain, we paused for another selfie. I'd had to take my glasses off by this point because the weren't working out well in the rain. Heather gloated about the brim of her hat blocking the rain and keeping her glasses dry, but after seeing at least three little gnats or other flying bugs on her forehead and glasses, using her hat brim as their own person weather protection, I figure either option has its downsides.

And here's also something we've decided to make a tradition with every hike - trail kisses. :)

Other random bits of beauty along the trail...
 The striking red color of this wood was even more obvious because of the rain. I wonder why it was cut down, if it was a damaged tree or something, and why the tree is still there, instead of being taken out so the wood can be used for something.

The artist in me wants to get slices of that trunk, dry them, and do wood burned pictures on them.

This little vine caught my attention, and I got all zen thinking about how it's so pretty, and looks so strong and healthy and it's just sprung up out of the hard, rocky path. It's not a typically ideal place for a plant, but this one doesn't care; it's gonna thrive with the options it's been given. Yeah, I see the metaphor.

Heather pointed out the way the raindrops were beaded on these leaves, shimmering in the light. I tried several times to take the photo but it didn't take until about the 8th time - just after the sun peeked out a bit to glint of the water beads even more. :) Serendipity.

Some of the views were striking, at least to me, though I'm not sure I could explain why if you asked.

And then there was this - what we're pretty sure is a vulture carcass that's been eaten by other vultures. I knew it reminded me of another image I'd seen, but it wasn't until I got home and was editing the photos that it clicked for me - Eris, Goddess of Discordia.

Somewhere along the way we got off the main trail and ended up off the State Natural Area land by a bit (not that we were really aware of that until we saw the markers on our way back to the trail). We could have done the longer loop, and fully plan to sometime soon, probably without me stopping for as many photos and ideally with more water on us.

On the way back to the car for our late-lunch picnic (and man were we hungry by this point), I stopped one more time at the echinacea field, said hello to the Dragonflies again, and took a moment to stack a few rocks and just thank the Universe and Mother Earth for this experience. It was energizing and touching and fun and entertaining and educational and just a really great afternoon! The tasty picnic lunch after finishing the trail was the perfect cap to that trip.

Monday, June 1, 2015

We have been missing hiking lately and so today is a planned hike and picnic which should be lovely. Right after surgery, the two of us started walking a good bit and even did some hiking in Gatlinburg. That was a lot of fun but man did it hurt. Hiking to the summit of a mountain three weeks post surgery is dumb. And of course I am that kind of dumb. But, regardless, we are going out hiking today and that should be good fun. The heat shouldn't be too bad and the humidity shouldn't be unbearable. We plan on doing a lot of hiking and such when this journey fully kicks off in August. I even found a place where I might want to start, the Peaks of Otter. A the name is cool, B it is close to where we are staying and C what a cool name. So yeah, that's the plan.