Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Hiking, more hiking, and nighttime canoeing

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Hiking (part of) the Tecumseh Trail

Sunday was a very busy day for us. It started with a hike with my mountain biking buddy Dave at Yellowwood State Forest. Dave has done a ton of hiking, especially in this area, and even wrote a hiking guide that covers many local trails — but this was the first time I had hiked with him. We had planned this hike last week — Sarah and I wanted to pick his brain about our trip to the Smokies and North Carolina, and Dave has been down there probably 30 times, so he is full of great information.

We met by Prange (some spell it “Prang”) Pond, which is just off Dubois Ridge Road (which is just off Lanam Ridge Road, where Dave and I have ridden on the road a few times). It’s fairly out of the way and in the outskirts of Yellowwood, so it doesn’t see a lot of traffic. We hiked part of the Tecumseh Trail, which is a huge, 42-mile trail that goes from Martinsville all the way to part of Lake Monroe that’s in Brown County. We only hiked about three miles of it.

Prange Pond Scene on Tecumseh Trail
Prange pond; a scene on the Tecumseh Trail

It was a really cool hike, with some hills, but none were too hard. Dave is a fountain of knowledge and pointed out some sassafras, an old well, and some very valuable trees (not having any branches until about 3/4 of the way up). It was an interesting hike because it wasn’t just a linear section of trail — we hiked on the Tecumseh Trail, a horse trail, some logging roads, and a gravel road, creating a pretty cool loop. We were glad to have Dave as our guide, because it would have been easy to get lost.

Tecumseh Trail Huge spider
Dave hiking; a huge spider

The trail was pretty overgrown in some sections; we wished we hadn’t worn shorts. I’m not sure I have any pants that are well-suited for hiking.

Yellowwood trail Yellowwood trail
Sarah, Dave, and the dogs; pines leading to a clearing

I was really glad that Sarah and Dave got to know each other a bit. I have spent quite a bit of time mountain biking with Dave, and told her a lot of stories, and conveyed a lot of things Dave told me to her. But this was the first time they spent any significant amount of time together, and I thought that was pretty cool.
Prange Pond Wildflowers
The pond with some cattails, and some wildflowers

Dave brought his dogs (we left Rob at home), and they were good. It was fun having them with us. Maybe next time, we’ll bring Rob. Rory, one of Dave’s dogs, went for a swim in the pond when we got back, ending up a disgusting mess — exactly how dogs love to be.

The Abandoned Homestead Hike

Sunday afternoon, we talked about how much we enjoyed the earlier hike and decided to go for another one. We picked a couple of possibilities from Dave’s hiking guide, and ended up doing the Abandoned Homestead Hike, which is near the Ransburg Boy Scouts Reservation near Lake Monroe. The defining characteristic of this hike (aside from the abandoned homestead) was the lack of a trail. A few parts had a proper trail, but it was either overgrown or nonexistent for much of the time. After a false start that took us down near the lake, we went back to a different trailhead.

Lake Monroe Lake Monroe
When you go the wrong way and see something like this, you begin to question whether it was indeed the wrong way to go.
We saw a guy on his way out as we were going in, and asked if we were heading the right way. He said we were, and that there was a baby vulture in the attic of the homestead. He said it was making a horrible shrieking sound.

Glad to have some assurance that we were on the right track, we continued hiking. We basically had to find our own way much of the time, due to the lack of a trail. That gave this hike an interesting challenge. It was a really pretty area, and we were hiking along a ridgetop. However, there was a lot of noise from boats on the lake that was pretty distracting. It detracted from the feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere. It was enjoyable nonetheless.

The Sarah and me
Part of the “trail;” Sarah and me

Just when we were beginning to wonder where this homestead was, Sarah spotted it. We had to maneuver over a tricky area to get to it. It was a rickety old house — although as Sarah pointed out, it couldn’t have been too old because it had electricity. We saw no other clues to help date it, but we did wonder how somebody picked that spot to build a home, and how they got the materials there. We saw no evidence of any vultures, babies or otherwise, but we weren’t about to try looking upstairs.

Abandoned homestead
The abandoned homestead
Me Looking through II
Wondering when the thing will collapse; a view of the inside

Remnants of a chair Side of homestead
A chair sitting behind the homestead; the side of the building


We hiked a bit further and found ourselves heading down a big hill. We ended up back where we had started hiking before at what we thought was the wrong trailhead. It wasn’t the one we were looking for, but it was just another part of the same trail. We turned around and headed back, having some more trouble finding the trail on our way back.

Nighttime Canoeing on Lake Griffy

Sarah had signed us up for a nighttime canoeing event on Lake Griffy, so after eating some dinner, we headed over there. There was a limited number of boats, and I think they chose a good limit — there was enough space that nobody was interfering with anyone else’s enjoyment of it. A man and his son were in the boat ahead of us, and as they were backing up away from the boat ramp, the man looked back to check on his wife and daughter, who were in the canoe ahead of them, and their canoe capsized right there by the shore. The guy was really embarrassed, and his son was pretty scared, but nobody was hurt. The guy did lose a sandal. He turned the canoe upright, but it was filled with water. I helped dump the water out of the canoe and turn it back over. They headed out. I felt his son was being pretty brave, not complaining and giving it another shot. We were next, and nervous after seeing that, but we didn’t have any problems.

The night paddle was timed such that we got to see the sun set over the lake, and also paddle some in the dark. It was an incredible experience. It was a beautiful sunset to begin with, but the way it reflected off the water was truly magical.

Griffy sunset
Sunset, and a paddle. No pixels were harmed in the making of these photos. No effects were used. “Sunset” scene mode was used, however.

Looking at the above shot, I can still feel us gliding over the surface of the lake, even without paddling, and hear the water dripping off of our paddles and falling in the water.

Sarah Me, smiling
Sarah and me

We spent most of our time in the middle of the lake and in a small cove, hidden away from everyone else. We saw a Great Blue Heron standing in the water majestically, who later took flight and swooped to a different area. We saw another one fly overhead a few minutes later. There were geese over near the dam — they didn’t seem to notice our presence at all. Then again, we mostly sat awestruck and silent.

Lake Griffy Sunset, golden
The lake is liquid gold

Sarah and me
Clever portrait of the two of us taken by Sarah

Griffy Sunset, pastel
Pastel sky

The array of colors was impressive, from blues at first to oranges, pastel purple and later deep reds.

Sarah and Lake Griffy sunset
Sarah, silhouetted, with some geese in the distance

As we sat in our cove, with darkness falling, we started to see bats flying around, sometimes swooping down to catch a meal on the surface of the water. We heard something swimming not too far from us, and I turned on my flashlight to see if we could figure out what it was. Sarah guessed it was a muskrat, but we didn’t get a good look. We also heard some unidentified creature jump into the water, making a splash and startling us. We didn’t get a good look at that one, either.

Impressionist sunset
Impressionist pastels

We paddled back without turning on our flashlight. The air was beautiful and hushed and our eyes adjusted to the light. It’s surprising how much you can see if you’ll just let your eyes adjust. The moon was glowing behind some clouds, not providing much light, but adding to the atmosphere. We paddled back to the boat ramp, wishing we had more time — more time to paddle on the lake, and more time in our weekend, which was quickly coming to a close. But we felt satisfied that we had made the most of it and spent every possible moment together, outdoors, at one with each other, and with nature.

6 Responses to “Hiking, more hiking, and nighttime canoeing”

  1. Revrunner Says:

    Great sunset shots! Real keepers.

  2. Marty Says:

    Wow – sounds like a great set of hikes. I think that I miss so much sometimes because our hikes are always so objective-based (go HERE to see waterfowl, hike to HERE where the dragonflies are). I miss the hike for the sake of hiking and pull out the camera when it seems appropriate. Great story and series of photographs.

    So, were you on the Angel side or Devil side of Sarah’s shoulder in that picture?

  3. Ear to the Breeze » Blog Archive » Hiking near, and on, a frozen Lake Griffy Says:

    […] a few dogs, and everyone was having a great time. It sure was weird to walk where we’ve been canoeing before. Lake Griffy […]

  4. Andrew A. Sailer Says:

    Great article! You wouldn’t think kids would get bored in a canoe, but they do! Smaller collapsible paddles are available for the kids, and they are hollow plastic and they float!

  5. Reda Broadnay Says:

    I was searching for photography when I found your site. Great post. Thank You.

  6. Dan Schisler Says:


    Not sure if you still check this regularly, I stumbled upon these pics recently and am looking to get a good photo that captures Lake Griffy framed as a gift. The problem is I’ve never been… I really like, Sunset, and a paddle and Pastel Sky… I was wondering if it was possible to purchase a large print of one of these, or a different photo if you think it better catpures the lake… framed too if possible? I assume you can get my email address from this post but if not I will check back… Thanks! Having much trouble doing this remotetly…

Ear to the Breeze is proudly powered by WordPress
Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).