Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hike 2011.086 -- Rubio Canyon

Hiked Thursday, November 24. I'm typing this three days later, but I'll do my best to recollect what I saw and where.

Dan of Dan's Hiking Blog recently posted about his hiking east of Rubio Canyon, and I figured I'd check this area out. He also posted a map, which looks similar to the one the Conservancy provides at the Rubio Canyon trailhead. Of course, as is my nature, I didn't look too carefully at the map until after I got back home.

This trailhead is where Loma Alta Drive turns into Rubio Canyon Road. An unsigned paved road ("Camp Huntington Road," on Google Maps) heads north from this point. The last time I was in the area, the entrance up this road was plastered with "No Trespassing" and "Keep Out" signs, so I never tried walking up this road before. However, presumably because of work by the Arroyos and Foothills Conservancy, there is now only one "No Trespassing" sign, and it is now clear that this refers to the private homes adjacent to the road and not the road itself.

There's no parking available right at this road, however. Instead, I parked on nearby Rubio Crest Drive, a road that heads north off of Rubio Canyon Road, just 1/10th of a mile or so west of the Rubio Canyon Road/Loma Alta Drive sign post.

Incidentally, if you were to take Rubio Crest Drive north, then turn right at Rubio Vista Drive, parking where that road turns sharply to the left and changes its name to Pleasant Ridge Drive, you would then be at the main Rubio Canyon Trailhead, with reasonable access to a series of waterfalls, as well as access to a very steep trail up to Echo Mountain.

However, today, I parked near the bottom of Rubio Crest Drive and walked the short distance to Camp Huntington Drive. After a very short walk on Camp Huntington Drive, I came across a green gate, which was (and is normally) locked. It provides fire truck and maintenance access to the Rubio CaƱon Land and Water Association facility. I saw several decrepit cabins just beyond this gate.

Almost immediately after crossing the gate, a dirt road dropped down and to the left from the paved road. You should follow that path.

Another water company structure was just ahead, on the left side of the trail. All these structures had fences and warnings about severe federal penalties for trespassing on these properties.

Not long after passing that structure, a well-defined trail headed upstream. However, almost before I got moving that way, there was another, well-engineered switchback on my right. I followed that trail, instead. Soon, I was walking above and behind a large, covered reservoir. As I gained altitude, I could see the main Rubio Canyon trail behind me (across the canyon).

Another trail, marked at the time by numerous orange ties, left my trail and headed in a more uphill and northerly direction. However, I continued more or less on my contour, climbing somewhat, but relatively slowly, and heading mostly to the east. The trail was narrow and it was impossible not to rub against the encroaching plant life. As I did so, I regularly checked for ticks, and found them, with disturbing regularity. Brushed them all off as soon as I saw them, and seem to have made it home without getting bitten.

The ground here is mostly soils, without a lot of hard rocks on which to build a trail. In many places, a careless step can lead to slides and much trail displacement. This was especially true on several spurs I took today.

I followed the main trail for what seemed like a mile, going past one nice ridge (pretty shallow ridge, but with a clearing and some good views over more than 180 degrees to the south). After crossing the ridge, the plant life became largely fountain grass (which I sometimes describe, incorrectly, as "deer grass"). At this point, I was heading northeasterly. At regular intervals I could see those familiar orange ties that marked the trail route. However, the need for frequent tick checks (and the frequent discovery of very large ticks walking on my sweater or pants) deterred me from going too much further this way.

I eventually backtracked to past the ridge line. On the way in, I passed a clear trail that headed down this next canyon over from Rubio. I could see the Altadena Crest trail clearly below, and wondered if one of these spurs would connect with it. I think they sort of do, but it would require a lot of contact with brush, and the accompanying tick threat meant I wasn't willing to do that.

BTW, the three times I have picked up ticks on my San Gabriel Mountain hikes, they've all been on hikes through Rubio Canyon. I don't know if that means this is a particular hotspot for them or if it's just that hiking here often means walking on narrow, ill-defined trails that necessarily lead to contact with brush, but I am especially vigilant in checking for ticks when I'm in Rubio Canyon.

I worked my way back to the ridge, then back down towards the west. There was yet another spur trail heading south from there, and I followed that one down some distance, as well. Again, evidence of vegetation being cut back indicated a lot of labor when into this path finding, but the trail was still mostly just rearranged top soil, which made causing substantial erosion very easy to to.

It eventually became evident that this trail would lead down into someone's backyard, so I headed back up to the trail I came from and returned into Rubio Canyon. Had time permitted, I would have followed the trail that heads up the canyon and towards the waterfalls. But, this being Thanksgiving Day, time did not permit.

With the two spurs I explored and the short walk to and from Camp Huntington Drive, I'm assuming I covered about three miles. I spent over 90 minutes walking.

There are several additional spurs that could be explored from here. Not sure if a hard frost will kill the ticks for the season, but perhaps I will wait until then for my next foray up these trails.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hike 2011.085 -- Henninger Flats

Hiked Wednes-day, November 23. Yep, back in the LA area for Thanks-giving. Also, I'll be moving back to the San Gabriel Valley some time in the middle of the month.

Flew in yesterday. So, after a day of sitting at an airport and sitting on a plane, I had plenty of pent up energy to burn. After a morning at the driving range and an attempted hike near the Rio Hondo River (foiled when I discovered that the access point I used as a kid has become overgrown--still accessible, but not the walk I had planned), I decided to drive up to Eaton Canyon for a 6 mile hike up to Henninger Flats.

I parked in the Eaton Canyon Nature Center parking lot (off Altadena Drive, just north of New York Drive). From the parking lot, you head north, through several nature trails. After about 1/4 mile, the trail crosses Eaton Canyon Wash. It was dry today, despite the recent rains.

Several signs have been posted in Eaton Canyon since the last time I was here (about two months ago). Just after crossing the wash, there was a sign warning about poodle dog bush, which I first learned about early last summer. Don't remember ever seeing them grow in Eaton Canyon. Since they're a post-fire plant, you'd think their peak would have been several years ago.

There was also a sign warning against trying to get to the top of Eaton Canyon falls, undoubtedly a response to the numerous rescues and fatalities that were necessitated by unprepared or overly ambitious hikers here.

Newly installed signs indicating "Coyote Canyon" and "Walnut Canyon" (the first and second canyons to your right as you head north along the first bit of the trail, respectively) and when you are entering and leaving Eaton Canyon County Park and Angeles National Forest are also posted. The sad part is that I know they're new (as in probably no more than a day or two old) because there isn't any graffiti on them, yet.

I walked a brisk pace both ways, although I stopped for picturing taking frequently. Heard plenty of woodpeckers, pounding away. Not a very good picture of them, but their red crowns were very distinctive. They are apparently acorn woodpeckers.

Lots of flowers starting to bloom, too. I recognize the buckwheat (which still have dead heads of seed, within which small white blooms are starting to form. Same with the sage, which have blooms appearing within former seedpods. Sun flowers, cliff aster, plus several other flowers that I either have forgotten or never knew their names, were also visible.

The sugar maples down in Altadena are in the midst of their color change. They are a mixture of green, yellow and red. Meanwhile, in the actual mountains, the most colorful leaves belong to poison oak. Not a good idea to collect them!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hike 2011.084 -- Nature Station and Honker Lake

Hiked Saturday, November 19. Yes, here, again.

Yesterday, I was back at the Nature Station. But, rather than being here to be entertained, I was part of the entertainment. More properly, I was part of the contingent of Western Kentucky Amateur Astronomers who volunteered 6 hours of their weekend (plus, for many, 90 minutes or more of driving time and many hours preparing props) to support the Nature Station's educational efforts. Every year, the Nature Station coordinates with local Cub Scout dens to put together a program that lets scouts complete their requirements for a pin or belt loop. This year, it was the Astronomy Pin.

I've done this sort of outreach once before, as one of several speakers and telescope demonstrators for a group of scouts in San Marino, last year. Unfortunately, we got mostly clouded out on that event.

Today was a daytime event, although, if it had been at night, we would also have been clouded out. Also, many of the scouts are way too young to be able to maintain their attention for more than about ten seconds. I think the idea is more that they learn a bit now, and they may later choose to learn on their own, later. So we and the LBL staff and volunteers did our best, with displays, activities, and demonstrations.

Can't say enough about what a great job this club does with their outreach. During the summer, they help staff two telescope outreach events a month at LBL. They also do special Astronomy Day and similar special events. It's all done on a volunteer basis--they're just people who like sharing their hobby and each other's company.

Took about a dozen pictures at the event, though there's always some question about posting pictures of minors on the net. I tried reducing the size of the picture with the scouts to the point where they are no longer identifiable, but still big enough to provide a feeling for what the event was like.

I also have a shot of some squirrels, taking advantage of the bird feeder at the Nature Station to bulk up for the winter.

After the outreach event, the club had a meeting scheduled for 5pm. That was just enough (actually, not quite, but I didn't know it at the time) time to squeeze in a quick hike around Honker Lake (4.2 miles) before driving down from the Nature Station to the Golden Pond Planetarium.

Lots of rain and wind the past few days, and I noticed several broken branches and downed tree trunks that weren't there a week or so ago. Pretty much all the deciduous trees are now bare. Many of the waterfowl have moved further south for the winter, I think.

I didn't learn or see anything really ground breaking on this hike. It was just another chance to try to stay on pace for a second year of 100+ hikes.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hike 2011.083 -- Kenlake State Resort Park

Hiked Friday, November 18. After a very wet and/or blustery week, today was the first sunny morning in quite a while. Temperatures reached into the mid-50s, warmer than it's been since Monday.

However, since I wasn't feeling in top hiking mood, I took it easy. I drove into Kenlake State Resort Park for the first time. This park lies on the west shore of Kentucky Lake, right where the US68/KY80 bridge crosses the lake. As a "Resort Park," this means the park is developed with hotels, cottages, a marina, a golf course, and tennis courts.

Tucked among all of that are a couple of pockets of relatively undeveloped forest. Two short loop trails ("Cherokee trail" and "Chicasaw trail") provide less than 1.4 miles of trail. I walked one of the loops twice, and also walked along the shoulder of a couple or road segments twice to accumulate my three mile minimum to qualify as a hike.

From the hotel, facing towards the parking lot, one access point to the Cherokee Trail is to the far right end of the lot. There's a sign there. This trail drops in two switchbacks into a small hollow. A powerline right of way also cuts through here, so you've got a narrow clearing to view along those towers.

After the switchbacks, you have a choice of either heading straight (more or less easterly) or make a sharp turn down and to your left (more or less westerly). A water pipeline cuts across this holler.

This being a loop, one way is as good as another. Either way, you're surrounded by trees and have no sight of the nearby lake. You will see the hotel or other out buildings above you, and the road is also nearby. Also, which ever way you go, after about 1/4 mile, you'll reach a trailmarker with two icons: A hiker and a bed. Following the bed would take you back to the hotel, while following the hiker takes you up towards a road. Once at road level, you could cross and head a bit to the southwest to access the Chicasaw trail.

This picture here, taken fromt he road, shows the northern Cherokee trailhead to the right, and the Chicasaw trailhead to the left, in the distance.

The names, incidentally, are from the Chicasaw, who once lived here, and the Cherokee, a portion of which walked through this area during their "Trail of Tears" forced march from Georgia and points to the southeast towards Oklahoma.

The Chicasaw trail gives a slightly higher path, though, again, there's a split, and either way will loop you down into a gully before bringing you back up. This trail appears to have been truncated, so there are "Trail Closed" signs at about this trail's midpoint.

In addition to walking these loops (the former trail, twice), I also hiked towards a tall watertower. It had a spiral staircase that climbs to the top, and would have provided a great view of the area. But access to the watertower appears not to be permitted.

I also walked down the road toward Cottages #260-275, going past the last of the cottages for a view of Kentucky Lake. There's supposed to be a trail that runs past the last of these cottages, but I did not see it. It's either down near the water level or no longer open.

An easy 3 to 3.3 miles for the day. Along the way, I repeatedly spooked a trio of deer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hike 2011.082 -- North Paved Trail, North-South Trail, and Canal Loop Trail, LBL

Hiked Saturday, November 12. Trying to hit those last few trail segments in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area that I haven't walked, yet. And, because this weekend was the quota deer hunt in Tennessee, I had to walk in the Kentucky part of LBL.

From US68/KY80, I headed north on the Trace. Just a mile and a half or so before reaching the North Welcome Station, I turned left on LBL Road #110 and parked. This is the south terminus of the North Paved Trail, only part of which I had walked previously. If you center on the section around the North Welcome Station, you can find Road #110 on the linked recreation map of the northern section of LBL, The North Paved trail is the dashed line closest to the Trace (Road #100), which is indicated from Road #110, north to Nickell Cemetery. Because it was Veterans Day weekend American flags had been placed on a tree overlooking the cemetery, and near several headstones.

Although the trail line is not apparent on this map, the trail continues north, parallel to the Trace, from Nickell Cemetery all the way to the North Welcome Center.

It took me about 45 minutes to reach the North Welcome Station. A vine with small purple berries was common along this segment, and on later sections of the trail. Fallen leaves practically obscured the pavement. If I were on a bike, I'd have to take some care not to skid out on the leaves, and to watch for sections where roots undermine the pavement, or where the pavement is fractured. Not a problem for a walker, of course.

This trail largely parallels the Trace, except for the southernmost section, which makes a rather roundabout path. Between 1.5 and 2 miles of walking on this section, on to the Welcome Center, then on to the Canal Loop.

I stopped briefly in the Welcome Center to buy some of the "country style" bacon they sell there. I assume this is bacon that doesn't really need preservatives, but has them for legal liability reasons, anyway. The bacon is in small, sealed plastic bags, and stored at room temperature. I'm sure the price is not all that great, but it does taste different from regular bacon, and it's not something I'm going to be able to easily eat after I leave the area.

For the Canal Loop trail, there's a small segment I hadn't walked, yet. It's from trial marker 12, counterclockwise, back down to the North-South Trail. So I took the Canal Loop trail from the Welcome Center to Point "D," then to 12, then back down to the North-South Trail. Once done with that, I was back on the North-South trail, where I had previously walked, on part of my Hike 2011.070. The Canal Loop map is linked here. The North-South trail map is linked here.

I took the North-South Trail only to the crossing of LBL Road #110. That dropped me off less than 200 yards west of where I had started the day. This segment of the North-South trail crosses several roads and several day use and campground areas. It's very unusual in that respect. I covered this ground as part of my hike 2011.

Along the way, there were a couple of nice views into Kentucky Lake. The wind was whipping over the lake, and whitecaps were common. Half-foot waves broke on the shore. Yeah, that's not much, but for a narrow lake like Kentucky, it's pretty impressive.

Near one lake overlook, I saw a fire ring. You're not supposed to build those, or at least you're supposed to obliterate them after you leave. However, I have been seeing a number of them the past month or so (after it got cold--duh!). This one was built with bricks, so I wonder who carried the bricks out here.

Still a few maples holding yellow leaves. The oaks have largely dropped their leaves. That which remains is brown and dead.

With the trees cleared of foliage, I've been seeing more hawks and owls, and I'm still amazed by how silently those large birds of prey can fly.

I also saw what looked like a yearling doe and a smaller fawn, bounding away from me as I approached Moss Creek.

As I passed Road #107 and prepared to entered the Hillman Ferry area, I saw a sign for Brown Spring. This was one of those green signs they have on the North-South Trail, with mileages to various points in each direction. It told me it was 3.2 miles back to the North Welcome Station, and .1 mile to Brown Spring. I took the detour to Brown Spring. It was a very small seep, coming out of concrete piling and through a metal grate. The water looked very unappealing.

From the spring, it was a very short distance to reach the Hillman Ferry boundary, where I soon crossed LBL Road #110. I emerged not 200 yards west of where I started.

Taking into account the 3.2 mile distance indicated back to the North Welcome Station, and the route I took to get here (looping along a portion of the Canal Loop), plus the North Paved Road I took to get to the North Welcome Center, I'll call it 6.4 miles for the day.

Somewhat limited in my picture taking, again. I forgot to buy myself a new SD card to replace the defective one I discovered on my last trip. That one was a SanDisk, by the way. Just thought I'd mention the brand here, and that I sent them an e-mail asking for a replacement. They answered with a request for more information, which I provided last night. I'll post later about how this dispute gets resolved.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hike 2011.081 -- Honker Lake and Honker Bay, Land Between the Lakes NRA, KY

Hiked Tuesday, November 8. In part because of their definitive nature (loop of known length) and in part because of their scenic character, I've visited Honker Lake and nearby Hematite Lake more often than any where else in Land Between the Lakes. My first visit here is written up as my Hike 2011.053. My second visit was Hike 2011.057. Both were in August.

Didn't get back to Honker again until early October, by which time the lake level had dropped significantly. I returned just under two weeks later, as Hike 2011.072. But today was the first time since the end of August that I actually hiked all the way around the loop, again. The trail map is here.

Parked in the gravel lot near where the Long Creek trail begins and ends, then walked the gravel road to the Honker Lake trailhead. Leaves blanketed the ground.

Another change I noticed was that new, white, plastic diamond-shaped blazes had been pounded into trees at regular intervals. I don't recall the blazes from previous hikes, although that's no guarantee that they weren't there. However, I'm pretty sure they're a recent change, to compensate for the trail being somewhat obstructed by leaves.

Most of the trees are now leaf-less, although there were a few places where colorful foliage stood out against otherwise downed and dead leaves. Most of the color was something narrow-leaved (not maple, oak, or sycamore). However, a few yellow leaves that looked to be maple were still about, and sumac was still somewhat common.

Trees with foliage were somewhat more common right on the peninsula between Honker Bay and Lake Barkley.

From here, I walked out towards the end of the peninsula. Wasn't sure what the rule was on going out that way since I think some areas around here are designated as a wildlife refuge. There was no signage prohibiting entry. Nonetheless, I proceeded only briefly out to see Lake Barkley. One large grey heron had to fly away from me a few times. Felt bad about that, which is part of the reason why I didn't want to go too far into that area. I was actually hoping to spot some eagles, again, but did not see any.

Returned to the dam between Honker Lake and Honker Bay, then crossed over and returned towards near the nature station. I took the formal trail that heads up to the parking lot in front of the nature station (closed Mondays and Tuesdays during this season--it'll close completely in late December, I think), walked across the lot, and continued on the trail on the other side.

The actual Honker Lake trail is supposed to be 4.3 miles. Add about 1/5 of a mile to get from the trail to my car and back, and at least one mile for my extension along the peninsula, and I figure at least 5.5 miles for the day.

Didn't take too many pictures today, in part, because my new SD card is defective. It wouldn't format, so all I had was the camera's internal memory. I reduced the picture size from 12 megapixels to 8 megapixels, which let me take about 20 pictures, which was just enough for the day.

Mid-70s even after I got back to the car (4:30pm CST). Would have had maybe 20-30 minutes more of hiking time if I needed it. Tomorrow's going to be in the mid-50s as a high (probably around midnight tonight), with the temperatures dropping all day, winding up in the mid-40s by tomorrow night. Not sure, but this could be my last shorts-and-t-shirt hike for a while.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hike 2011.080 -- Woodlands Walk, Woodlands Nature Station, and Hematite Lake

Hiked Saturday, November 5. After several wet and windy days, the day dawned sunny and clear. However, I decided hiking would play second fiddle (semi-literally) today.

Headed to the Woodlands Nature Station, which is about nine miles north on the Trace (from US68/KY80), then three miles east on Silver Trail Road. I bought a "fun card" from the LBL a few months ago, which is a prepayment for ten "events": either entry to a planetarium show at Golden Pond, or entry to the Homeplace (living history museum) or "Woodlands Nature Station." At both the Nature Station and Homeplace, there are occasional special events that are included with your entry fee. Saturday was the "Fall Frolic." This included a free concert by "Red River Breeze," a band which does Celtic and traditional American music.

Got there early, so I spent some time walking around the grounds. They have a sixteen year old coyote there. He was looking pretty relaxed, soaking up some sun in his pen.

I also spent some time sitting on a bench, taking pictures of some of the birds that were fattening up at a bird feeder nearby.

Also got some pictures of a pair of captive owls, here.

When my walking around the Nature Station didn't take long enough, I took a walk along the Woodlands Walk trail. It's supposed to be 9/10ths of a mile long, with the trailhead just outside the entrance doors to the Woodlands Nature Station. Took my time, then wandered back to see the concert.

video

Red River Breeze was playing in front of several bales of hay, with folks gathered in a semicircle in front of them. It was an outdoors venue, which meant the random problem of bugs and stuff flying around. Ladybugs were very common in the area. A nearby bald eagle also squawked on occasion.

[Weird thing about the video quality--it was a lot sharper before I uploaded it. Oh, well].

The main thing that makes this band unique is the role of the hammer dulcimer. It's sort of a portable piano without a keyboard. The musician strikes the wires within with small hammers (hence, the name). Don't think I've ever seen one played. Definitely a pleasant sound.

video
On a few songs, the hammer dulcimer player traded in that instrument for a recorder.

In addition to the hammer dulcimer or recorder, the band also has two fiddlers and an acoustic guitar. I loved the definitely NOT overproduced sound of their music.

Obviously, I taped parts of the concert. Kids coming and going make this a little distracting. That, and my need to shift around to keep the camera balanced and on target lead to some periods of shakiness. And, fortunately for those of you with limited bandwith, I had to keep the tapes short because my SD card was rapidly running out of space.

Still, there's enough in the clips to get an idea of their sound. For four bucks entry (or three bucks, if you buy the fun card and use it all ten times), it was definitely a nice change of pace. I bought their current cd, and am eagerly awaiting their next one (due out in December).

I spent some of the time during the concert enjoying the local outdoors. Several squirrels were hopping among the tree branches. You see one of them in the first clip, in the background (at least you could see them in the originals--in the version posted, the resolution is too pixelated to see the squirrel, I think). Also, near the end of the concert, a turkey vulture landed on a nearby pole. He also seemed to be enjoying the music and the sun, and he stretched his wings out to soak up some of the latter. It was almost like he was mocking the captive eagle, which was right behind him as he did this.

After the two sets (about 45 minutes each), I went off to do my walking for the day. Figured on a simple walk around Hematite Lake. I didn't feel up for a serious walk, and this area was still supposed to have some color. It did, but not a lot.

A few spots still had yellow leaves, but most of the trees were either barren or brownish. Funny thing, though. With the right light, the brown leaves actually looked red. It's something to do with light reflection, I guess. With my polarized sunglasses on, things looked pretty drab. But when I took my glasses off, the color became much more apparent. It's the opposite of what I had experienced earlier in the season.

Took a few shots of and around the observation platform, but the most colorful shots were looking towards the northwest, with the trees partially back lit by the setting sun.

Then made my way back across the Hematite Lake dam, and to the parking area.

This loop is supposed to be 2.2 miles in length. Since I was parked back from the start of the loop by maybe 1/10th of a mile, and with my wandering around the Nature Station added in, I definitely exceeded the arbitrary 3 miles of walking I have set to qualify as a hike, so this counts as number 80 for the year.

Things are going to get tougher from here on out. I've got some work that will keep me pretty busy, though I may very well still try to sneak a short hike in on Tuesday. Unfortunately, with the end of daylight savings time, the time allowed for afternoon hikes is going to be getting pretty short.

This was my third visit to Hematite Lake. In fact, Hematite Lake was my first "local" hike I took after I got out here. I also visited here early last month. The seasonal changes are pretty dramatic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hike 2011.079 -- Lake Barkley State Resort Park, KY

Hiked Tuesday, November 1. I ventured across Lake Barkley today. Didn't take this map with me, though; I assumed there'd be a visitor center there where I could pick up a trail map. Dumb mistake. It would have let me make better use of my time there hiking.

Lake Barkley State Resort Park is just a little bit east of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, where I've been doing pretty much all of my hiking the past few months. One thing to be aware of is that there's going to be some construction on the bridge that crosses Lake Barkley in the coming months (possibly years). Today, there was a traffic light that wasn't there last week, with east- and west-bound traffic taking turns crossing the bridge. I don't know how long that's going to go on for, but I have noticed signs on the west side of Kentucky Lake bridge saying that eastbound traffic will be limited to vehicles no wider than 7.5 feet. There are also covered detour signage, directing larger vehicles eastbound on US-68/KY-80 to, instead, head north (west?) on U.S. 68, through Aurora, and towards I-24. If you're coming from the east, of course, this is irrelevant.

From US68/KY80, I turned left, following the sign into Lake Barkley State Resort Park (I assume this is State Park Road, aka KY-1489). I continued straight about three miles, ignoring the road that crossed my route, with the sign for the golf course and trap shooting.

Shortly after that junction, the speed limit dropped from 55 mph to 25 mph, and the road climbed and became windy. I turned right at the sign that pointed towards camping and picnic facilities. Right after I passed the stables (on my right), I saw a sign for the Wilderness Trail, on the right (I later saw a matching sign a bit earlier, on the left, as well). Immediately after the sign was a large water tank, painted right. A Mini Cooper was parked right next to the sign. I took a picture of the car, with the trail sign in the foreground and the colorful leaves in the background. Maybe Mini will someday paying me thousands of dollars to use my picture in an ad. Heh, heh.

The sign said 1.4 miles to the campground pavilion (still not sure exactly what building that was supposed to be).

This trail was much narrower than the ones I've gotten used to in LBL. Impossible to walk without vegetation rubbing on me--but, far as I could tell, no poison ivy and no ticks were encountered.

After not even 100 yards, the trail split. Blue paint blazes and a sign pointed straight ahead for the Wilderness trail, while no sign and red blazes marked the way to the right and down the hill. I later learned (by looking at the map I linked at the top of this post) that this trail would have looped back around to the stables.

However, oddly enough, I do not recall seeing the next two junctions that should have been where the Racer Ridge trail would have intersected with the Wilderness trail. Doesn't mean I didn't see them; I just don't remember seeing them.

Fall here is well under way, so the entire trail was thick with fallen leaves. Some yellow (and less green and red) remained in the trees, however.

It sure seemed like it was much further than a mile before the trail approached (but did not provide a clear view of) Lake Barkley. During one peek between the trees, I saw two bald eagles flying away.

With the sun on my left, I clicked off dozens of shots of the backlit yellow leaves. Suddenly, I realized that there was a one-lane road just beyond these trees. Also around then, my trail became less distinct, so I just walked on over to the pavement and walked down that way, instead. An older couple, walking their dogs, were on the other side of the road.

Continuing along the pavement, I reached the end of the loop. Just where I would have started back, I saw a trailhead sign, for the "Wagon Wheel" trail, and an indication that it was .3 miles to the beach. "Sure, why not?" I figured. So down to the beach I went.

There weren't any cars or people down there. There were a few boats with fishermen not too far off shore. And there were a whole bunch of angry Canada geese, annoyed at having to leave the shore because of an intruder's approach.

Took a few more pictures there. Saw the basketball hoop. Looked across the parking lot, but saw no trailhead signs. (In looking at the linked map, later, I see that there SHOULD have been a trailhead sign somewhere on the other side, but it was not visible from where I stood. So I headed back the way I came.

Popped back up at the camp ground. There, I noticed a blue paint blaze on a tree, opposite the road from where the Wagon Wheel trail had started. There was no sign on the other side, but there was at least one deer. I decided to leave the deer in peace, and walked back along the road loop, back to where I figured I came.

Again, in looking at the map after the fact, I can see that this is where the Wilderness trail should have ended, so, presumably, the 1.4 miles was supposed to be by getting here the long way. If the map they provide is somewhat to scale, then I allegedly only went about 1.2 or 1.3 miles from the trail head (although it sure seemed further than that).

Walking back along the road should only have been marginally shorter than returning via the trail, so I'm figuring another 1.2 miles back on the road.

Once back at my starting point, I first explored the trail that headed west, parallel to the road I came in on. After about 1/4 of a mile, it ran into the stables. In checking the map after the fact, I see that there's actually a 1.6 mile loop that heads out of the stables.

I returned once more to where I started, then crossed the road, picking up the Wilderness trail on the north or west side of the road that heads towards the campground. A sign there said this trail was 1.2 miles. Turns out it heads all the way back to near the lodge.

I took a bunch of pictures along the way, and also of the bay that's adjacent to the lodge. During the walk down, I passed signs for the Cedar Grove Trail (which, in checking the map, I see should have been on the opposite end of the parking lot from where the Wagon Wheel trail had reached the beach), and the Lena Madesin Phillips trail. The Wilderness trial ended near a swing set.

Then it was back to the car. 2.4 miles roundtrip on this part of the Wilderness trail, plus .6 miles on the Wagon Wheel Trail, plus about 2.5 miles along the other end of the Wilderness trail and back along the road, plus about 1/2 mile going to the stables and back. That's about six miles, total for the day.

The sun was just setting as I headed back towards Murray. I got stopped at the traffic light on the Lake Barkley Bridge. About five cars and a really big truck were in front of me. Worked out well, though. Great lighting over Lake Barkley, and I saw a lone bald cypress growing on a small island in Lake Barkley. Pulled my camera out of the bag, lowered the passenger side window, and framed and clicked off four shots in rapid succession. The fourth was perfectly lit and composed. That's the picture I stuck at the top of this post.