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Archive for the 'Hiking' Category

Sycamore Loop

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

The weather has been much cooler. On Sunday, Sarah and I decided it was time for some hiking … something we don’t like to do when it’s oppressively hot. In fact, typically we do most of our hiking in the winter, but we are branching out a bit.

It rained on and off all day, but we really wanted to get out. We discussed possible trails and settled on the Sycamore Loop, a trail we’ve hiked a couple of times before.

We thought the rain was done, but as we were getting ready, we looked outside, and it was raining again. No worries, we just put some ponchos in my pack, and we were ready to go. I was going to take my DSLR on this hike, but given the rain, I decided against it.  Here’s a map of the hike.

We started off on a fire road, then turned onto the trail. At this point, the rain had stopped and it was rather sunny. We were all excited to be out in the woods.

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Here, you can see that Rob was sitting for the photo, as instructed, but facing the wrong way …

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At every opportunity, Rob would lay down in a puddle or creek.

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Though many of the creeks were dry, like this one.

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Not to be deterred, Rob found another secret swimming hole, this one about two feet in diameter.

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After that diversion, we were moving again. The trail was getting a bit overgrown in places, though not entirely. Here’s “dog’s eye view.”

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We found lots of these little orange/yellow flowers.

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It was a great day to be in the woods. Then, it started raining. We put on our ponchos.

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Sarah was wearing her “wedding poncho,” though fortunately she did not need it on our actual wedding day. No one told me just how much I looked like Little Red Riding Hood in my red poncho. Next time, I’ll have to bring a wicker basket.

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The rain wasn’t bad at first, but it picked up some more. For a while, it rained hard. We really didn’t mind. The cooler weather was wonderful, and we got a little wet, but the ponchos worked well enough. We were in pine forest for a while, with very tall pines. With a bit of fog/mist from the rain, it looked beautiful.

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After a while, the rain subsided and we no longer needed our ponchos. We passed some more scenery, such as this pond, right by a campsite.

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And this was just one of many shaggy trees.

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This segment of the trail felt longer than I remembered. There’s a long, gradual climb out of a ravine that just goes on and on. At times the wind would pick up and we would hear the leaves rustling, and water being blown from the leaves, falling to the forest floor. Then the wind would travel slowly through the trees, the falling water moving toward us, washing overhead and finally moving past us. The canopy was so dense that we didn’t even get wet when this happened, but it was really something, hearing it overhead.

Eventually we reached the fire road and headed back.

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It was a great hike — it was either 5.3 or 6.7 miles, depending on which program you believe. Something is screwy with my GPS track on this one — oh well. In the past, it’s been around 7.5 miles, but in those cases, we had added on a little extra side trip.

It’s definitely time for more hiking. There are many great options around here, and we tend to do some of the same repeatedly. I hope we can explore some new trails soon.

Snowy Hike

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

I didn’t ride at all last weekend. In fact, that makes two weekends in a row with no riding. I intended to ride down in Holland, IN with David and Tim, but I wasn’t sure I could actually get there. There is no route there from here that doesn’t involve a lot of small roads, which were probably snow-covered.

And, once I backed out of that ride, honestly, I wasn’t feeling it — I guess I needed a break. I feel better about cycling now. Sometimes you just need a break.

Instead, Sarah and I took our dog, Rob, for a good romp in the snowy woods. Nothing epic, just a fun time. I think Sarah enjoyed watching Rob and I chase each other through the forest.

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After that break, I felt refreshed, physically and mentally. Hopefully I can ramp up the riding again a bit, but damn, I love hiking, too!

New year, new terrain

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

My friend Dave and I had been trying to connect for a ride all last week, but schedules and conditions conspired against us. We did, however, get out for a New Year’s Day ride. He came up with a great idea that would take mixed terrain to the next level. Here’s a map.

Even though temperatures the day before had climbed to nearly 60 degrees, it was in the 30s during our ride. However, the strong south winds remained.

We rolled out.

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Along the way, we ran into Doug, a friend of Dave’s who I’ve ridden with a couple of times before. We talked to him and his wife for a few minutes before going our separate ways.

There were some good hills, and nice views, along Ketcham Road.

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After about nine miles, we reached the Cedar Bluff Nature Preserve.

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We locked our bikes in a ditch …

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… and headed out on foot to hike the trail. I guess you could call this a mixed-mode adventure!

The creek was high …

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With pervasive evidence of beavers …

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The trail became more rugged, involving careful rock-stepping alongside the creek.

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Here I am making my way across some rocks (photo by Dave).

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Looking up at the bluff.

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The bluff is a very narrow point.

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I was testing some new hiking/biking shoes. I’ll write about them later. First impressions are positive.

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This was my first time on the trail, while Dave had hiked it many times before. His knowledge came in very handy. He knew the best place to stop and skip rocks in the creek.

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Now we had a scramble up the back side of the bluff, on wet, leaf-covered, mossy rocks. Needless to say, they were quite slick. We made it up without incident, with Dave making it look like a breeze.

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The top afforded us excellent views.

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It’s odd to see the cedars growing right out of the rock.

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The back side of the bluff had a ravine with a creek in it.

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We enjoyed a snack while we took in the views. What a great spot!

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Now, it was time to walk back down the way we came. Once again, it was tricky.

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Here I am coming back down (photo by Dave).

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Once again, Dave made quick work of it and got down off the bluff well before me.

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Now we had to retrace our steps back on the rocky creek shore.

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Dave pointed out this very funny pair of trees, known as the “upside-down lady.”

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It wasn’t a long hike, mileage-wise (maybe 1.2 miles) but it was a tricky one, and we took time to explore.

We got back on our bikes and rode back, taking a different route that added a few miles but had fewer hills.

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Soon, we had a tailwind. Sweet!

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We turned onto Gore Road, a new road for me and a great find. Thanks to Dave for showing me this alternative to Old State Road 37!

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We still had to spend some time on Old 37, but Gore Road avoided a few miles of it in fine fashion.

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We made our way back to my house. Ride + hike together totaled 21 miles or so, but neither part was easy. This was a lot of fun, and we already have ideas for other, similar outings.

I took a break from biking and hiking the next couple of days, and spent some quality time with my wife. The break was much-needed, as was our time together. Now I feel refreshed and ready for all the craziness that this year has in store for us.

I hope everyone is having a Happy New Year!

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