A Sabbath trek…

On Saturday we went back to the trail head.  No, not me and the dogs, but me and Bob this time!  I had already decided that there was too much poison ivy, and too many ticks to risk taking the dogs on the unpaved trail!

And so, having donned hats, boots, and a day pack, we grabbed our hiking poles and took the unpaved path.  I am so glad I thought it a good idea to wear long pants!  The trail was a bit to closely grown with poison ivy, and I found a tick in our clothing too!

We hiked about a third of it before we got too tired and turned back.

I have a few things to share that we found along the trail.

I planted one of these in my yard last year.  She didn’t make it.  I think I might like to try again.  I hope Bennett’s has them again this year!

We passed another such outcropping of stone and heard water.  We looked carefully but no river or falls were evident.  We then realized the water we could hear was from an underground river!  The sound was coming right out of a large fracture in the rocks!

It is amazing how thick the vegetation on this mountain is considering that the whole mountain is solid limestone rock, but over time, rain, snow, and ice work on the stone.  They seep deep into its fissures, eroding and freezing to expand, and break it apart. 

Leaves fall and collect in the cracks and begin their process of decomposition. 

Seeds fall into the humus… and miraculously they grow!

and they will further the destruction of the stones.

This mighty tree fell in a storm.  I looked at her limbs and imagined a giant hand, fingers outstretched to the sky.  On closer inspection I realized that she was not dead.  She had refused to give up!   Notice the smaller branches?  The leaves have reoriented themselves to take better advantage of the sun.  I also noticed that the forestry service has tagged her for removal as she is laying directly across the trail.

I stumbled into this stone and noticed the odd breaks in it.  In places it seemed to have been incised by a knife’s edge.  It also seemed to have an outer coating, almost like a shell…

I picked it up and that is when I saw that inside this potato sized stone was a surprise!  On a nicked edge there were revealed crystal structures like jewels inside.

See?

I wondered what else might be found if it were cut open.  Was it a geode perhaps?  I decided I didn’t need to know and carefully placed the stone back where I had found it. 😉

On our way back we took a wrong turn! The path is supposed to be just one long loop around the mountain, but apparently because of all the fallen trees from last year’s storms, there have been a few alternate paths made.  We realized that the area was small enough that we really needn’t worry, and we did have snacks, water and a cell phone.

However, later when I downloaded all my photos I found this one and thought about how very careful you must be when taking any unfamiliar trail…

Because after all, we wouldn’t have wanted to end up like this poor little fellow.  He climbed up the cedar, out onto a limb, was totally lost, and then expired!

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OK, because some of you said you were inspired to get back into a routine of healthy living I am going to share some BEFORE and AFTER pictures with you.  This is a very hard thing for me to do, pride you know, but here is Buddy, and me in California when I was we were fit…

And here I am now, after no exercise and a lay-up from a back injury…

This is the fallen tree I mentioned above.  Climbing over it I wanted to just stay there, but forced myself to get up and continue on.  So I am not the same woman who left California.  However, I refuse to go down without a fight!

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This was my third hike this week and the most strenuous!  I was tired and obviously out of shape, but my trekking poles really helped me both up and down the mountainside.   I woke up this morning to a bit of stiffness, but no pain, so I guess I haven’t overdone it this week.   Nine miles.  NICE!   🙂

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Hint to all with bad knees and backs:  Get some trekking poles and use them!  They really help to take the strain off your knees and back, and give a little workout to your arms too!

Photo Friday: on the trail again

When I lived in California I used to go hiking, often.  I also rode my bicycle to work at least three days per week, and every weekend as well.  I went to Pilates classes twice a week and was in the best shape I had ever been in my life.

Then we moved.

Now before I say another word you must know that I adore where we live and have no intentions of ever going back to suburbia.

That said, I do miss the ease of being able to hop on my bicycle to go anywhere I liked, and my hiking friends who kept me on the trail as often as I was able to go.  Since moving I have been plagued with back issues and this finds me in not very good shape at all!  I have gained two inches around my waist, and lack the vigor I once had.

I am 59, and I believe too young to be this bad off.  So this week I have started a new path to regain my health.  I ordered two books which are:

  1. Hiking Alabama, 3rd: A Guide to Alabama’s Greatest Hiking Adventures (State Hiking Series) by Joe Cuhai    
  2. Rail-Trails Southeast: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, from Wilderness Press 

You may find these helpful books, or others for your locality, available through Amazon.  (I received no compensation for these endorsements!)

Now I am not going to jump into cycling marathons, or try to hike an 800 foot elevation change, but I have to start somewhere and so Wednesday I started here…

This is a paved, level, two-mile round trip.  I saw a total of two people here during my visit.


Now some might find that lonely, but  there were other encounters along the way…

A hawk

Silent sippers at a trail side Butterfly bar

One graced me by landing on my shoulder.  She was lovely!

A shy little turtle.  Don’t you find the pattern on his shell lovely?

A lazing caterpillar who warmed itself in the sun

And while I was busy with eyes looking through the lens of my camera, the clouds moved in and threatened rain!

I stopped.  “Just  one more shot.”  I told my companions.   “You see, I have been working on getting water droplets to clear up and pop in my photos.”   (I think I am very close with this one!)  I think they were unimpressed…

A tulip tree leaf that was still wet from the morning’s rain.

Stopping at the paved trail’s end,

I promised myself to return another day and continue on, taking the shady trail into the woods.

I turned to my companions and found them looking wistfully in the direction leading back to the car.

“Ok Boys, let’s go home!”

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What do you enjoy doing to stay fit?
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PostscriptToday instead of taking the car to the post office like usual, I took the little dog and we walked the two miles!  😉

Seven Miles

Getting back into riding seemed daunting to think about.  I rode everywhere in the city, but once I moved here I quit.  The country road is just two lanes, and in the morning the commuters are late, and  just like in the city… they drive too fast.  Hence my fear of narrow riding spaces and being found dead in a ditch bank, have weighed heavily on my mind.   But I have resolved to ride again, and so begins my journey back to health and fitness.

I started back last week actually, and I have surprised myself by surpassing my expectations for distance.  Each ride’s distance starting with 4 miles, then 5, and today’s 7 mile ride serve to boost my confidence.

Today I took pictures.

Of grazing cattle.

A cotton field softened by the humid haze in the air.

A cotton blossom drenched in dawn’s dew kiss.

A newly plowed field that want’s planting with perhaps another chance at corn for this year… we’ll see.

A small working farm… well OK, it excites this X-City girl to see such things.  I can’t help it!

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And then its the end of the road.  I did not expect or plan to reach this goal so fast, and yet, here I am.

Looking across the highway…

… at tomorrow’s ride.

Where will it lead?

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I turn around and head home.  Pedaling down the road I feel summer’s hot breath against my skin.  Perspiration beads on my face and rolls down my spine.   I pedal harder to reach the top of the hill and wonder if I can break  20 mph on the downside.

Push, push, push up the hill… I crest…

Now pushing faster the wind blasts down into my helmet cooling my head, and leaning forward I gain the speed to hit 24 mph!

I love to ride.