Distance: 10 miles Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Moderate due to distance
Conditions: Warm to Hot and Muggy (typical for late June). Partly cloudy to cloudy at hike's end. Tstorms blew up quickly with lightning and thunder. Started raining just as I got in to the Jeep!
Great hike. Except for two trail runners, I had the trail all to myself. Quite a few passerines (as usual) throughout the forest. Many, many insects were present today. I used Repel on my shoes, pants legs, and neck -- I was not bothered by mosquitoes or biting flies. Several Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies were seen, along with different Dragonflies (my personal favorite insect). Did not observe any Damselflies today. Sunflowers decorated much of the trail, especially in the drier sections. There were other blue, purple, and white wildflowers in abundance but I will have to consult a field guide to identify them.
Today was my first time exploring some of the Black Trail on the other side of the lake. I found a special spot lakeside that has to be the largest stand of Big Leaf Magnolia I have ever seen. These deciduous trees with their over-sized leaves engender thoughts of some prehistoric land as I walk through the grove.
I had originally planned to hike all 12 miles of Swayback on this outing but the rapid onslaught of a summer thunderstorm and a nagging pain in my left ankle convinced me to stop at 10 miles.
One Scripture that keeps resounding through my mind on almost all hikes and excursions is from Psalms 19...
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.
-- Psalms 19:1-3 (NKJV)