Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hike 2011.069 -- Hematite Lake, Long Creek Trail and Gravel Road to Honker Lake

Wow, that's a long title! Hiked Tuesday, October 4. Been a whole week since my previous hike. I traveled back to CA briefly. Most of this hike was a repeat of my Hike 2011.050, except I did not swing through the Center Furnace trail, but I did walk along a gravel trail to Honker Lake. Don't have the road designation available.

Hematite Lake Trail is given as 2.2 miles. Long Creek trail is given as .26 miles. The road to Honker Lake felt somewhat further than the Long Creek trail, so I would estimate at least between .4 and .5 miles roundtrip. Add another .3 miles or so to link the Hematite and Long Creek trails, and it's about 3.3 miles for the day.

That's a pretty short day, and I would like to have taken a longer hike. However, I was a little behind where I wanted to be in my class prep work, so I didn't want to spend too many hours wearing myself out, to the point where I wouldn't be able to fulfill my work obligations.

As usual, getting to the trailhead from US68/KY80 meant exiting at "The Trace." Today, I headed north from there, approximately eight miles, to LBL Road #135 (Mulberry Flat Road) and made a right. Just about three miles later, I turned left on Road #134; within about 1/2 mile of that turn, the small lot for the Long Creek Trail was on my right. I parked there.

Around twilight, this place was thick with deer the last few times I was here. However, near midday, there were no deer here today.

I crossed Road #134 and walked the gravel road to get to the start of the Hematite Lake trail. Took the trail in a counter-clockwise direction.

Today, I ran across a mother and her toddler son on this trail. It's the first time in several hikes I ran into anyone on the trail.

I also saw several people fishing, either on small boats on the water or from the shore.

As I walked along the lake shore, I saw one smallish turtle (less than half the length of the one I saw at Savells Bay) and several fish. Some were oblong, either crappie or blue gill. Others were more streamlined, probably bass of some sort. There were also numerous fingerlings. No doubt, there are plenty of fish in this lake. At least some of them are large, because I saw some big splashes from the shore (not as big as in Honker Lake or Kentucky or Barkley Lake, I'd bet, but plenty big).

There were also at least a dozen Canada geese hanging out in the lake. Some floated, and some stood on the lake bottom. Most were paired off or in small groups. They honked a lot but seemed pretty comfortable with the distance they were able to keep between me and them.

This trip out, the structure pictured above finally made sense. It's a "blind." People can sit in the little house at the end of the pier and look through the slat. Apparently, geese don't get worried if they can't see your entire body. Stupid birds. ;D

At the far side of the lake, the trail still goes over a boardwalk, which seems to have taken some wear over the past few months. A number of sections were broken down, but they still functioned to keep your shoes out of the mud.

As last time, I could see numerous muddy paw prints or other signs of animal travel. One area looked like it must be a beaver crossing point. There were regular puddles, followed by an area that looks like what would happen if a really skinny, really low-hanging dog were to do the shake-thing to get water out of their fur.

Also similarly to last time, I took a picture of one of the bridges that cross a bit of water. You can see for yourself what changes have occurred since August.

Tree foliage is still mostly shades of green. A few scattered trees had turned--some orange, a few more, yellow. I took numerous zoomed shots to highlight those trees. I'm hoping the colors will change more universally in the weeks to come. In fact, part of my rationale for returning to a place I've been before was to get a look at the state of the foliage. From what I have read, peak foliage should still be several weeks away on average, but I figured I'd have a look for myself.

After completing my circuit of Hematite Lake, I wandered east, to walk the Long Creek trail. This one is short, and wheelchair accessible. It lets even the non-ambulatory get a taste for what it would be like if they could walk some of the trails that pass through LBL.

After finishing that short walk, I knew I was still under three miles for the day, so I decided to walk the gravel road that runs from Road #134, past the parking area for the Long Creek trailhead, and on to Honker Lake.

While walking along this road, I looked down, and noticed many greenish, bluish, and dark but shiny rocks were embedded in the roadway. This was the hematite for which the lake was named. There's a high iron content in the area, and that's why a lot of furnaces for refining ore were nearby.

At the end of this road, I was surprised to see how far the water seemed. The Honker Lake Trail doesn't come this way, so I'm not sure how high the water out this way was earlier in the year. But with the many lily pads now high and dry, clearly, the water used to cover a lot of this area.

Out on the now-dry lake bottom, several egrets were still hanging out, although several took off when they saw me, despite the great distance away I remained.

From here, I returned back to my car. As I noted, about 3.3 miles for the day. Very short, but a welcome change of scenery from work.

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