Friday, September 26, 2008
Hike: Alabama Historical Commission's Confederate Memorial Park, Mountain Creek, 9/26/2008, 10:40-14:00
Distance: 6.3 miles
Conditions: Mostly sunny. High, fast cirrus clouds. Light breeze. High 70's to low 80's.
Intake: 27 oz. water, one pack of Nekot, one Oat 'n Honey bar
Met one other person on trail. Also met a park ranger for the first time ever here. He was curious about what I was doing since the lady in the museum said I was there often. Had a good conversation about the ecosystem of the park, especially as it relates to the forest itself. Ranger thinks the forest is in decline - quite a few dead adult trees due to beetles and stress from the drought. He was concerned about my safety around the dead trees. There are some dead adult and young trees easily seen as you hike in the park. Most of the dead pines in the upland area are the victims of pine beetle. I believe most of the young hardwoods that are dead have succumbed to stresses from the drought. I have noticed some black pustules on the leaves of some of the hickories - some type of fungus? I certainly hope that this "Treasure Forest" is not declining but rather just undergoing normal growth and death in a forest. There is an abundance of young saplings throughout the forest - that makes me feel better!
Got a fleeting glimpse of a black bird with yellow on back of wings on way into the park. Not sure if it was an oriole or maybe an American Redstart. Lots of other pasarines: titmouse, cardinals, etc. Grey squirrel scampering around on the ground. Several fall wild flowers in bloom - most notable in the park right now is the goldenrod. Blackgum is well into its change to red.
Paced the boundary trail from yellow gate at field entrance to yellow gate at the spring - 0.9 miles, longest single trail in the park.
Thank YOU, LORD, for this time and this special place. Speak to my heart.
Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail, Wetumpka, AL 9/25/2008 12:40-14:40
Conditions: Continued wonderfully beautiful Fall day! No clouds. Temps in high 70's to near 80. Light breeze. Only met one mountain biker on the trail and 2 others at the parking lot.
Distance: 4.4 miles
Intake: 20 oz. water (ate lunch before going on hike)
Most enjoyable hike. Maintained better than 2mph pace. There is some rolling terrain and a few short hills but they did not tire me. Could probably have done the 7 mile trail within another 1.5 hours but decided to finish at 4 miles and get back to help Kathy with her mom.
Observed box turtle, lizard, and white tailed deer close up! Saw couple of busy ground squirrels (chipmunks) near half-way point. Videoed a large white oak for Kathy to see what they look like. This forest is mixed pine/hardwood. I call it an "adolescent forest" because most of the trees (all but a very few) are probably less than 50 years of age. Perhaps this area has been harvested before?
Thank YOU, LORD, for loving me and creating such a place as this.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Hike: Alabama Wildlife Federation Nature Center Lanark, Millbrook, AL; 9/20/2008 08:18-13:15
Distance: 5.1 miles
Conditions: Mild (almost Fall like), high cirrus clouds, light to mod breeze. A few other people on the trails, but I was the first to sign in this morning!
Intake: 1 Nature Valley Oats 'n Honey bar, 1 Sweet/Salty bar, 27 oz. water
Planned to do 6 miles but had to leave to prepare for Johnson/White wedding ceremony. Observed cottonmouth moccasin for some time from the bridge behind pond in Still Creek Run area. He (or she?) didn't seem to be in a big hurry to leave - you can see from the picture that he showed me his nice white mouth. Guess he did not feel me approach since I was on the bridge. A good reminder to watch where you step or put your hands. Notice he was stretched out in a muddy drainage area that was full of small mammal tracks. Another long black snake observed on Cane Creek Loop (backside). Many birds (as usual), numerous lizards and frogs. Saw one large (Great Blue Heron) bird in trees at Gum Pond. Lots of mammal tracks about. Thank YOU, LORD, for this special time and the feelings it engenders within me. I love YOU, LORD GOD.
I don't think the stride length is correct on my pedometer - was over 11,000 steps today. Changed stride to 27 inches.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Hike: Mountain Creek, Sat. 9/6/2008, 09:15-12:20
Conditions: Very warm, muggy. Rained this morning at 05:30. Mostly to partly cloudy.
Distance: 5.3 miles
Intake: One pack of Lance peanut butter crackers, 27 oz. water.
Observed skunk (at a distance!); numerous woodpeckers; beautiful oriole; butterflies; lots of different colors and types of mushrooms (from the recent rains, I guess); and bunches of mosquitoes (I did have on repellent). Was a beautiful day. Thinking about the world traveler/journalist interviewed by NG Adventure who had seen and experienced so much, yet she was still searching (is a self described atheist). Thoughts for sermon tomorrow "Joy in the Journey - Pursuing GOD". (1 Tim. 6:20; Prov 3:5-6)