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Archive for the 'Hiking' Category

Sycamore Loop hike

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Sarah and I are getting back into hiking. The past couple of years, we’ve done a lot of hiking during the winter, but not much during other seasons, including fall. Since fall is both of our favorite season, it’s a shame we’ve done so little fall hiking. We’re trying to make up for it this year.

So on Saturday, we decided to do a long hike. It’s a trail we’ve done before (way back in May of 2007), the Sycamore Loop, in the Deam Wilderness found in Hoosier National Forest. Our hike, including an extra out-and-back jaunt to Terrill Ridge Pond, ended up being about 7.5 miles.

View 2009-10-17 Sycamore Loop in a larger map

The hike started with a brief section on a fire road before we picked up the Sycamore Loop Trail itself, which started on a ridge, but quickly descended into a valley and followed a creek for a while. All the while winding through mixed pine and hardwood forests … but to be sure, a lot more pines than you typically see in this area.





We stopped to rest at one of several walk-in campsites along the way. This seemed to be the best of the designated sites as far as I could tell, in a large pine forest, by a creek, with lovely limestone outcroppings — but no one was using it. It was further back than the other sites, but not by that much. We had a snack and rested for a few minutes.





We hiked on, the forest transitioned back to hardwoods and the trail turned upwards for a long, gradual climb back up to the ridge. Throughout this time, the trail either followed the top of the ridge, or skirted the edges of ravines. But the foliage was too thick to get any good photos … and really there wasn’t much of a view. This would be a good hike in the winter, if we can access the trailhead (the drive or ride there involves a 7-mile section of gravel road).




We took another break by a creek to eat lunch and filtered some water from the creek. Then continued on our way.



We passed a rather large group camping along the trail. They were noisy and disrupted our peaceful hike slightly, but we were soon past them.

The trail reconnected with the fire road, and I talked Sarah into walking down to a pond that we had found last time, Terrill Ridge Pond. Some people were camping there, so we didn’t stay long. It’s a beautiful spot … another place I wouldn’t mind camping sometime.






By this time, we had about two miles of hiking along a ridge on the fire road back to the car. There were two climbs at the end of the road that we remembered being brutal from our previous hike there. However, since we are more seasoned hikers now, and after some of the monstrous climbs in Pennsylvania, these two hills felt easy. It’s funny how your perspective changes over time.

It was a wonderful hike. We were in great spirits the whole time and perhaps a bit chilly (we forgot to take into account that it was a lot cooler in the shady woods than it was at home), but otherwise we were mostly comfortable. We stopped at the 58 Cafe on our way back (where I ate on a recent bike ride). This place is awesome and very “authentic,” as we like to say (loaded with local characters and flavor). Let’s just say they have not one, not two, but THREE different types of pork tenderloin sandwiches (a Hoosier specialty) on the menu. We each had one, and they were delicious. It’s great to be able to get a tasty meal after a long hike.

Ogle Lake hike

Friday, October 16th, 2009

We had planned to do a hike with my family, but it ended up being 40 degrees and raining. I still wanted to hike, Sarah was willing to give it a shot, and my nephew, Avery, still wanted to hike as well. So it ended up being just the three of us. We headed out to Brown County State Park to hike around Ogle Lake.

A little background: Brown County State Park is a big tourist destination in the fall. People travel hundreds of miles to go to Brown County, see the leaves, camp/hike/bike/ride horses, fish, hunt, and shop in the nearby town of Nashville, Indiana. Nashville, and the state park, can get quite crowded sometimes, especially on fall weekends. It’s popular for a reason: it’s incredibly beautiful. But the crowds can be a bummer at times.

Being locals, we are fortunate that we get to see this beautiful area year round. And, we can head out there on a Wednesday evening if we feel so motivated. So, that’s exactly what we did. And on this weekday evening with chilly rain, the park was almost empty. Fortunately for us, the rain stopped about the time we started hiking.

I always enjoy spending time with Avery. He’s a great kid, and he reminds me of myself at his age. Conversation topics ranged from the reason for the change in seasons, how some people can curl their tongue while others can’t, mileage markers along the trail, beavers, fish, deer, etc.

And of course, I love hiking with my wife. And the dog, who fell into the water trying to drink at one point.















On our way home, I stopped at a couple of the many vistas the park has to offer. It was nearly dark, and the hills were shrouded in fog. Beautiful. In the last shot, you can see the Hesitation Point mountain bike trail running across it.




Yellowwood Lake Trail hike

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

On Saturday, Sarah and I hiked the Lake Trail at Yellowwood State Forest. The trail makes a loop around Yellowwood Lake. We’ve hiked this trail once before and really enjoyed it. But, that time we were not impressed with the second half of the trail; this time, we decided to do just one side as an out-and-back hike.  Here’s a map of our hike. We hiked about 5 1/2 miles.

View 2009-10-10 Yellowwood Lake Trail Hike in a larger map

It was a stunning fall afternoon, cool but not cold, and the fall colors were coming in nicely. This is our favorite lake (and also where we got married) so it’s a very special place for us.

Our hike started at the Jackson Creek trailhead. The water level is very low because they have intentionally lowered it for dredging and other maintenance tasks. The foreground area in the next photos is normally under water.


We hiked along an easy connector trail that took us by some wetlands, across a creek, and through a pine forest.




We got on the Lake Trail proper, which took us through hardwoods forests and through some creeks.






The trail then followed the edge of the lake, yielding some wonderful views along the way.





We came to a clearing and since the water level was so low, we were able to walk out onto a flat, cracked earth area that is normally completely under water. It was very beautiful and surreal, like the surface of another planet.



DSC_4555 DSC_4559





After a while, we reached the dam. We had a picnic here, during one of our first visits to Yellowwood. It’s fun to reminisce about other things we have done here before. The dam was looking particularly beautiful, with the long grass and the late afternoon sunlight hitting it at just the right angle. I walked most of the way across the dam so I could get a photo looking all the way to the other end of the lake, where we had started. At this point, the dog ran over to me and cracked me up.



Then Sarah started walking toward me, and she looked even more beautiful in this setting. For once, I got some photos that capture some of what I was feeling. I take a lot of landscape shots that I’m pleased with, but portraits are not my forte. I’m definitely happy with these.





Then that goofball of a dog ran over to me again.


We lingered on the dam for a few minutes, then headed back. The Lake Trail was far more enjoyable this way, as we got to to hike right by the water most of the time. I took fewer photos on the way back, and just enjoyed the walk.





All in all, this was a fantastic hike. I loved every moment of it, and I can’t wait to do more hiking with my wife. It’s been a while, but then again, winter is our primary hiking season.

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