Sunday, August 8, 2010

You Hike in the Footwear You Have...

Yesterday, our day started with this conversation at the trailhead:

"Did you grab the boot bag when we left?"

"No. Why?....Oh."

"Well, we drove all this way, we might as well hike at least some of the trail today."

Thus began our 11 mile hike in Chaco sandals.  We will occasionally see people hiking in sandals and wonder if it is comfortable or, on Old Rag, how they avoid stubbing their toes.  In general, I've never felt like it was something I needed to try. 

We started up the Broad Hollow trail, which follows an unnamed creek for a little over a mile before climbing towards Sam's Ridge.  Based on the flowers growing directly in the middle of the trail, I think fewer people hike Broad Hollow than even Sam's Ridge.  Trail maintainers had been through in the past few weeks to cut the underbrush back.  Otherwise, it would probably have been fairly overgrown.  This was good as our biggest concerns were poison ivy, snakes in the grassy areas, and stabbing our feet with sticks lying on the trail.  We took a quick break for lunch near one of the largest Tulip Poplar trees I have ever seen.  Tulip Poplars grow fast, but I think this one must have escaped the clear-cutting that occurred over much of the area in the 19th century.  A little while later, we ran across the ruins of an old farm. 

At the junction with Sam's Ridge Trail, we were feeling pretty good, so we turned west on the Hazel Mountain Trail.  After a short mile, we turned south on the Catlett Spur Trail to hike up towards Hannah Run Trail.  Catlett Spur was really pretty.  At one point, we walked through a large area covered in Clintonia borealis (Yellow Clintonia).  Their flowers have long since faded, but each plant had a stalk with blue berries on it.

We turned toward Skyline Drive on the Hannah Run trail.  All of a sudden, there were more flowers than we had seen in the previous four miles.  The trail up to Pinnacles Overlook was steep, but well-switchbacked.  We saw a family of four headed down the trail with no water and had to remind ourselves that we were not working.  At the overlook, we found a tree to sit under while taking a break and watching the car tourists pull up and drive off.  Goldenrod and asters were blooming, signs that, although it is still hot outside, summer is on the wane.

Back at the junction, we headed east on the Catlett Mountain trail.  We passed through an old farm with a couple of apple trees and blackberries.  From there, we turned south on the Hazel Mountain Trail and connected with the Pine Hill Gap Trail.  This trail was a challenge because it was steep and covered in gravel.  There were a few flowers blooming, though and we caught a couple of views of Old Rag.  Soon, we arrived at the park boundary and a short road walk back to the car.

It was a good hike.  We had the option to shorten the hike several times and we always felt like we could keep going.  We never saw any snakes and we managed to avoid most sticks, but we did see plenty of poison ivy.  We'll see how that turns out over the next day or so.  The sandals were all right, but by the end, without the cushion of socks and insoles, my feet were pretty tired. I don't think I will adopt them as regular hiking footwear.

Pictures (click to enlarge):

Massive Tulip Poplar

Quiet Broad Hollow Trail

Prunella vulgaris (Self Heal) growing in the middle of the trail.

 Silene stellata (Starry Campion) on the Hannah Run Trail.

Campanula divaricata (Southern Harebell).  The flowers on this are tiny - about 1/4" wide.  It is a member of the Bluebell family.

Campanula americana (Tall Bellflower).  This is also a member of the Bluebell family.

Helianthus divaricatus (Woodland Sunflower)

Butterfly on Red Clover at Pinnacles Overlook.

Goldenrod in front of Old Rag at Pinnacles Overlook.

Asters on the Hannah Run Trail.

Sassafras trees make a tunnel on the Catlett Mountain Trail.

An interesting fungus on the Catlett Mountain Trail.

 Coreopsis verticillata (Whorled Coreopsis) on the Pine Hill Gap Trail.  If you look closely beneath the two folded petals, you can see the legs of a tiny spider that has closed the petals with its web.

Green acorns on the Pine Hill Gap Trail.

Old Rag from the Pine Hill Gap Trail.

1 comment:

  1. I look forward to your posts. Lots of great flowers for me to learn about. Old Rag has a large cluster of the Woodland Sunflowers about a tenth of a mile before Skyline/PATC wall.