Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Hiking is good for the soul
Sunday was foggy and misty. Damp, dreary, and basically an ugly day. The sort of day that most people would cuddle up with a Kindle or a book and sit on the couch to read.
I thought it was a marvelous day to hike.
I packed some dried apples that I'd done this fall and water. I chose my clothes for layering. Hiking in the damp chilly weather can be uncomfortable if one is too warm or too cold.
Water, snack, compass, phone, camera, spare batteries, and a second pair of gloves...all check.
Area I was going to hike? Memorized. I'd downloaded a file of the place on my cell phone also.
I parked and got out. This was an exploration trip. I wanted to see how easy the trail would be. I wanted to find a scenic and rather easy hiking area to take friends to.
This is Old 131 Trail in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.
In the summer it is a multi use trail. In the winter it is a CC ski trail that allows hiking alongside the groomed trail as well as snow shoeing. I decided to park along County P and hike south to the ponds.
The trail looked rather easy and level on the map, it followed the valley along side the Kickapoo River.
I wanted to see how long it would take me to hike quickly to the ponds. There is an observation 'deck' that faces east over one of the ponds.
I'm thinking it would be an amazing spot to watch a sunrise.
I was chilled right away. So I set a fast pace and headed south. I'd brought my ancient GPS device and tried to set it to the Trip Setting which would tell me how far I was going and the speed at which I traveled. I had a hard time making it work, for some reason the menus were evading me.
I dropped it back into my pocket.
I had an app on my cell phone called Sun Locator Lite. I could bring up a map from it if I needed to...if I was able to get reception!
I got to Bridge 15 much faster than I anticipated. I slowed down and looked at the river.
Through the trees I could see a rock formation.
I went off 'track'. I followed a deer trail alongside the river and had to negotiate a lot of piles of dead trees and wood from an accumulation of flash floods along the Kickapoo.
I was stunned when I came around some trees. I think I even said something like, "Holy Cow" or "OH my God!" or perhaps an "Oh Shit!"
I know, potty mouth right? I probably let my sailor mouth run off a bit.
Be still my beating little stony heart.
I continued along the river.
I decided to just stand still and look for a bit. The scenery was incredible and very hushed. The only noises were that of the river flowing.
All I kept thinking is, do I have enough time to stay here and explore? Should I follow the river? Common sense said I'd come back to the next bridge. The Kickapoo is known quite well for its twists and turns.
I looked up between the above pictured bluffs and saw a river of ice flowing down through the trees towards the river. I imagined myself exploring that area.
I turned around and retraced my steps and went back to the bridge. I put away the camera and shouldered the back pack. I hustled along crunching in the left over dusting of snow and ice covering the blacktop trail.
It seemed only minutes before I arrived at the next bridge. Bridge 16.
I was on the lookout for a way across the river that would connect this trail to the Little Canada trail across the river. I'd taken that trail last winter with the neighbors.
I enjoyed the view from the bridge for a bit and then checked out what I thought was another trail. It was just a short path to a summer campsite.
I turned around and kept up the fast paced march.
Here I walked alongside the river. I could see the hills and forest of Little Canada. I had ridden that trail in 1996 through 1999 when the reserve had changed hands.
I came around a curve and slowed down. I could hear water splashing. It reminded me of the Artisan wells that dotted the areas. I thought they had all been capped.
Color me tickled. I found one!
I came back out on the trail and saw the frozen ponds ahead of me. To my right a sign indicated a camp site and a horse only trail. I noted that it said NO bicycles and thought it was ironic that someone had taken a 'fat' tire bike down the trail.
I walked the trail and tried to recall if I'd ever ridden this trail. I must have at some point. I returned to bluffs. I know I'd hiked the bluffs above this point and ridden my mule also.
But I was stopped in my tracks again.
I walked around another pile or two of flash flood debris and stopped. I had found the place.
I don't know, a place that gave me pause and gave me a sense of something not felt in a long time.
I let out a breath and stood still just letting my senses drink it all in. I felt calm and relaxed in so many ways.
I heard a squeak and looked up. A Bald Eagle landed in one of the pines above me. I just watched. I didn't attempt to pull out my camera. I was just happy to be in the moment.
I had reached the 'spot'. I unpacked the dried apples and chewed on them. I'd bring my friends back here and share this with them in about 10 or so days.
I sipped my water and decided that I'd take a look at the observation 'deck' at the pond and then head back.
I got out my compass and noted that the observation bench and area faced east. As I'd said earlier, this would be a great place to watch the sun rise. I noted that I was about equidistant from the parking on County P or the parking at the KVR building.
I think the hike would be fairly easy as it is along an old road.
I turned and waved to the bluffs and headed back.
So much more to explore.