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Part II: Hiking at Jackson-Washington State Forest

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Sarah and I decided a hike was in order on Saturday afternoon. We didn’t want to do anything too long, and from experience we knew that the trails there are pretty challenging. Hiking there, it feels like you’re covering more ground because there are constant ups and downs, many of them fairly steep.  We looked at a map and put together a short loop. We had chosen a campsite right by a trailhead, so we were able to hike directly from our site.

Starting the hike.

Enjoying ourselves already

A fuzzy vine on a tree

Almost immediately, the trail began climbing, and did so for quite a while. Once we reached the top of that hill, we saw a sign saying the trail is closed for logging. Couldn’t they have put the sign at the bottom of the hill?


DSCF7412 DSCF7414

Naturally, the part of the trail we planned to hike was closed

However, it appeared based on the sign that they had just closed the trail days before, and it said you could go through if nobody was working. We continued on. All they had done so far was mark a few trees.

It’s really sad how much logging has increased in the state forests. Our current governor has increased logging 400% since taking office. Sad. No, I didn’t vote for him.

The trail followed a ridge briefly but then resumed the constant ups and downs. You’d literally reach the top of a hill and immediately go down the other side, only to climb another hill after that. We crested one hill to see our dog waiting for us.

Rob, waiting at the top of a hill

Steep trail

Rob and I exchange greetings

More steep trail


Hiking down

We came around a bend and suddenly Rob ran off the trail and into some brush. We heard some scuffling and wondered what was going on. I tried to get him back, worried that he’d run down the very steep side of the ravine. A couple moments later, out came Rob, with … something … in his mouth. Something big and furry.

It didn’t take long before I realized it was a possum. Rob seemed so proud of himself for finding it and I think wanted to show us. Somehow, we got him to set it down somewhere other than on our feet.

Rob’s mostly-dead possum

It wasn’t moving. Well, at least not much. We could see it was still breathing. At this point I decided the humane thing to do would be to end its suffering. Sarah put Rob’s leash on and took him down the trail. I found a suitably long and thick stick and finished it off.

About an hour later, Sarah said to me “Hey, don’t possums play dead?” At this point, I realized what I had done. I killed a possum that in all likelihood would have recovered. I felt a little dumb, and kind of bad for doing that, but it really did seem like the humane course of action at the time. Apparently I’m not the first person to do this though as Wikipedia’s Opossum entry says, “Many injured opossums have been killed by well-meaning people who find a catatonic animal and assume the worst.”

We were quite surprised at Rob’s actions. He’s normally a very laid-back, lazy dog. We see rabbits all the time on our walks at home and never seems to pay much attention. But he sure went after that possum aggressively. We couldn’t find any bite or scratch marks on Rob … I guess that possum never had a chance.

After that encounter, we were a little shaken up but still enjoyed the rest of our hike. Unfortunately the hike we chose to do didn’t have any overlooks, even though it went to one of the highest points in the area. Next time we’ll make a point of hitting an overlook. This time, we were too tired, and it was too hot, to add in the extra miles to get to an overlook. Still, it was a beautiful hike and you could see some hills in the distance between trees. Not really something you could catch with a camera. You can sort of tell in the photo below.

Going downhill back toward the trailhead

Almost back

We really enjoyed our hike. This state forest is very special to us, as it’s where we got engaged. It was great to hike there again and see some different trails. And the possum encounter is not something we’ll be forgetting any time soon.

Labor Day weekend camping trip

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

Sarah and I tried an experiment this weekend. We did a camping trip, with a twist. I rode to the campsite, and she met me there with the car. And the next day we went further, me on my bicycle and her driving. It was almost like a supported tour.

We had mixed results. I didn’t plan well enough, and we both had poor to nonexistent cell phone reception, so we had a little trouble connecting in Brownstown, IN. Also, what I intended to be a way for me to get some riding in while allowing us to spend a lot of time together became a little more complicated and bike-centric than I intended. Sarah was very patient and we had a great time together, but in the end it felt a little selfish. If we do something like this again, I’ll need to plan things out a lot better. It was also really hot, which effectively meant that by the time we got anywhere, it was too hot to want to do very much.

I plan to write about this trip in three parts:

  1. Riding from Bloomington to Brownstown and Jackson-Washington State Forest
  2. Hiking at Jackson-Washington State Forest
  3. Riding from Jackson-Washington State Forest to Clark State Forest and Henryville

Hiking at Leonard Springs

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Sarah and I went hiking at Leonard Springs Park yesterday. We were planning on doing a longer hike but we were having a lazy day and decided a shorter one would be better. It was a beautiful 70-degree day, sunny with a nice breeze. I believe the trail is about a mile, not very long but pretty good for a city park. We took Rob (the dog) and he really enjoyed it, except for a metal platform/staircase at the beginning.

Metal platform/bridge
This metal platform is not very dog-friendly
Rock overhang
Rock face over a cave entrance

There are a few different falls there, quite full from all the rain we’ve had, and the water made quite a noise as it cascaded down the hillsides.

Cascades IV
Cascades II
More falls
Sarah, taking a photo

Cascades VI
Slick with moss

Cascades VII
More falls

Sarah and Rob

Wetlands I

New life
Sign of spring

Weird bark
Weird bark

Wetlands III
More wetlands

We almost got stuck there, as the parking lot filled up and people had parked on either side of the entrance by the time we left. We were just barely able to squeeze between the cars and get out.

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