Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Solstice Hike - Barred Owl Sighting

Hike:  Portions of Red and Black Trails, Swayback Bridge TOLA, Wetumpka, AL 06/21/2014, 0830-1100CDT
Distance: 6 miles  Rating: 4/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Hot (low 90s) and humid.  Wind: light & variable.  Trails were mostly dry.  Encountered a few mountain bikers near end of hike.
Summer in the Southeast means bugs (lots of bugs).  Used 40% DEET to repel mosquitoes and ticks (though I have never known ticks to be a problem here).  Had several gnats fly into my eyes.  The drone of flying insects was a constant chorus throughout the hike.  The ubiquitous trail-spanning spider webs were easily handled by my trekking pole.  Insects can be a worrisome distraction this time of year, just prepare (mentally, clothing, & repellent) before venturing into the woods.  

Gray squirrels and chipmunks were observed throughout the day scampering around the forest floor.  The drumming of a woodpecker greeted me at the beginning of the hike.  Small lavender wildflowers were the flower stars today... taking center-stage all along the trails.  I am not certain of their identity, though they resemble the mint family with small clustered lavender blooms.  Did not notice a particular fragrance associated with these blooms.  Yellow daisies, Black-Eyed Susans, and Mimosas added the additional colors from GOD's palette. 

The greatest surprise was a large Barred Owl flying through the forest canopy within 60' of me and perching in a tall hardwood.  Silence accompanied his swoop through the tree tops.  Owls are rarely observed during the day.  This may have been only the third time I have ever observed diurnal behavior in an owl.  He was not close enough to get a quality photo, but certainly close enough for me to enjoy such a wonderful sight. 

12 "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12 (NKJV)

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hike Down Memory Lane - Friday, 6/13/2014

Hike: Portions of Red and Black Trails, Swayback Bridge TOLA, Wetumpka, AL, Fri., 6/13/2014, 09:30-12:00CDT
Distance: 6 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Cloudy.  Sporadic sprinkles.  Low 70s.  Light wind.  Trails wet but not too muddy.
Today was a hike down "Memory Lane".  The Mimosa Trees were resplendent with their soft pink and white puffs and delicate fragrance.  Any time I am near one I think of my grandmother, Mama Teal.  The Mimosa in the corner of her yard was a welcome respite for a little boy from summer heat as well as a treat for the eyes and nose.  Hiking along the lake shore, drinking in the delicate fragrance and pouring over the countless silken blooms, I cannot help but smile.  Even though I am physically hiking here at Lake Jordan, I am also back at Mama Teal's house playing under her giant Mimosa.

Birds song was provided by an assortment of avian choirs during my 2 1/2 hours on the trail.  A large Blue Heron was fishing along the bank and did not appreciate my interruption.  The chance squirrel or chipmunk got my attention as they scampered across the forest floor.  There were no otters or white tail deer in attendance this day. 

I fashioned a hiking staff from a fallen limb.  The Gerber Big Rock Camp knife accomplished this task quite easily.  The most important task for the staff today was breaking spider webs.  I do not mind the webs until they sweep across my eyes -- that is a serious distraction!

GOD, YOU, are glorified in YOUR Creation.  It shows YOUR majesty, wisdom, creativity, knowledge, and skill.

1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.
Psalms 19:1-2 (NLT)

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Hiking Chimney Rock Trail - National Trails Day - 2014

Hike: Chimney Rock Trail (Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail), Sat. 6/7/2014, 09:00-11:00CDT
Distance:  3 miles  Rating: 4/5  Difficulty: Moderate
Conditions: Very warm & muggy.  Temps in low 80s.  Light wind.  Trails wet from recent rains.  Some small limbs (blowdowns) from thunderstorms but no serious trail blockages.  Encountered no other hikers today.

Only one cell phone picture today -- I left the SD card out of the camera!

The forest was humid and damp from the last several afternoon/evening thunderstorms.  Reminded me that this is a humid subtropical forest.  The Braken ferns, Big Leaf Magnolias, and numerous mossy areas conjure up images of some primeval forest.  The large boulders strewn about the landscape would provide ample protection from some prehistoric monster!  Several of the boulders seem thrown together almost like a fort.  My brother and I could really have made these wonderful fortresses had we grown up in this area.

Insects (mosquitoes, gnats, various flies, and ticks) thrive in this environment.  Bring your DEET repellent if you plan to venture into the Southeastern summer forest.

Serenaded by birdsong throughout most of the hike.  Also spent a lot of time removing spider webs from my face.  It seems that spinning your web across the trail is a favorite past-time of many spiders near Lake Martin!  Perhaps you did not realize that one of the functions of a hiking pole/staff is to break webs before you walk through them.  :)

Lake Martin was a gorgeous aquamarine color.  The lapping of waves stirred up by several ski boats, sounded a rhythmic cadence as I hiked lake-side.  I noticed several trees tenaciously clinging to the shoreline, their foundations slowly and methodically undercut by the lake's wave action.  They will soon join their submerged kin providing underwater habitats.

Thank YOU, LORD, for the beauty and peace of YOUR Creation.  YOU are glorified in it.

Get out and Enjoy GOD's Great Outdoors.