Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Return to Hemlock Trail

Sometimes I find a particular trail that I enjoy and decide that I have to go back in as many different seasons as possible to hike it and see it.

Saturday I had a few hours to myself so I headed to Wildcat Mountain State Park with the intention of hiking the Hemlock Trail and then stopping at the Prairie Trail outlook.

I parked near the canoe launch site and hoisted my camera backpack onto my shoulders and started off.

We'd had a killing frost and the temperatures were in in the 40's.  

I'd worn my insulated camo pants and jacket with a nice warm vest.  

I encountered quite a few 'tourists' wearing some really nice name brand outdoor gear with cameras slung around their necks.
I'm sure I got the odd look, but my gear was just as comfortable as their high priced stuff and was a bit more practical in my opinion.  
When not used for cold weather hiking, my camo clothes were used for cold weather coyote hunting.  

I secretly wished it had been a tad bit colder and I could have worn my skunk hat.  

I ran into a family.  Mom had a baby in a front carrier, they had a four year old, Dad, and Grandma.  I caught up to them and asked how they were doing.
This was their first visit to the trail.  I cautioned them about the backside being pretty steep and having some tough trail sections.

They didn't seem concerned.  Meanwhile, Grandma was sitting on the side of the trail and needed help up.
I shrugged and passed them headed out to a rock out cropping that I wanted to visit.


This finger of rock juts out over ... nothing.  I had seen it in June but decided it was too narrow to take walk out on with another person.


And...it was.
I decided to sit down and just enjoy the view for a while. If a person had balance issues or vertigo, this would not be the place to come and enjoy the view.  

And the view was worth it.

Of course the sun was in the wrong spot for a really great shot, and the Autumn Haze was difficult to deal with, but I took several shots anyway.


Even the rocks I stood on were exceptionally beautiful. Golden lichen covered those below me.

I made my way back to the trail and spoke with a young couple who were sitting in the sun on a rock outcropping. I told them the view from the finger was exceptional if they were very careful.  
But I wouldn't recommend it to most casual hikers.

We talked a while about the area and I found myself telling them about some other neat places to visit.

I moved on and headed to the Scenic outlook that had a bench and wooden guard rails.

I had to wait my turn as the family with Grandma was there and they were trying to take family shots and 'selfies'.


The colors were washed out and many of the trees had lost their leaves due to the high winds we'd had all week, but I still felt the view was worth it.


I packed my gear up and headed towards the backside of Mt. Pisgah.  As I started the steep downward climb, I recalled reading in a review, that this trail was rated as Moderately Difficult to Difficult.

I wondered if the family was coming this way.  I got to another rock outcropping and carefully tried to find a good position to shoot it.  I realized that this too should have morning light on it and not afternoon light.

I wouldn't have a chance to 'shoot' it in the winter as this trail was closed.


The footing on this portion of the trail was very difficult. I walked down and around to where there is a rock ledge that looks like a bench and waited.  I could hear the Family and Grandma coming down the trail.

When they got to the steep log steps I could hear them wondering how safe it was.  In my opinion, if 'Grandma' had trouble on the other parts of the trail, this was going to be the worst for her.

I walked back and offered to help the family out. Grandma leaned on me and I helped her negotiate the sharp turn and steep section.  The footing was dry and powdery which made it as slippery as if it were mud.

The Family thanked me and then asked if I were a Forest Ranger or something.  I laughed and said "No, just someone who enjoys this trail quite a bit!"

I hiked down the rest of the trail and had to step aside for quite a few hikers now.  I decided that weekends were not the prime time to have this trail to myself.

I did't mind the people and had enjoyed meeting them.
But I felt self conscious setting up and taking photos of the trail and the surrounding area.

By the time I reached the parking area, the lot was nearly full.  
I decided that I'd make my return trip even if the fall colors were gone, during the week.


However I did enjoy my experience and need to put Old Settler's Trail back on my fall list.
The rock outcroppings on that trail are fantastic.

2 comments:

Sue Olson said...

Need to get you to Alma, WI and Buena Vista overlooking DPC Alma.....

Val Ewing said...

Those would be cool places, we talk about Alma at work ...