Hiked Friday, October 14. Debated between trying to do another segment on the North-South Trail or just getting back to Honker Lake. I decided on the latter.
The rationale was that I had been there several times earlier in the season, and there were a number of picturesque islands and lakeside trees, which I hoped would soon be providing a beautiful foliage show. However, it turns out I was probably a little late for that.
Parked in the wildlife viewing lot that is outside of the Nature Station develop-ment. Also decided to try walking the trail backwards today. This was because I knew that the most interesting part of the Honker Lake trail when you're walking counter-clockwise is the second part, after you walk across Honker Dam. Funny thing is, it feels a lot longer getting there then it did coming back. Upon looking more closely at the map when I got home (and noting the mileage markers on my way), it is actually not any shorter (it might even be slightly longer) if you go clockwise rather than counter-clockwise.
The hill you climb going clockwise also seems longer and taller than when you return counterclockwise. You'd think it would be the same net gain either way, but it sure seemed longer to get to anything interesting.
When I got to the part that was supposed to be interesting, I was somewhat disappointed. Of course, I knew from my peek at Honker Lake last week (on a short detour from Hematite Lake) that the water level was way down now versus where it was when I walked this trail (twice) back in August.
On my previous hikes around Honker Lake, there were some small but picturesque islands here, with trees crowded on what used to be hilltops (or mound tops?). However, today, the islands were now peninsulas, surrounded by very unattractive muddy flats. And the leaves had already fallen. Interestingly, the egrets were still hanging out around their former islands.
After passing the muddy "islands," the Honker trail crosses a low area that apparently become saturated when the water is high (because there's a narrow concrete causeway that crosses the flat, grassy area), then climbs a small hill. The "2" mile marker is where the climb begins.
Next, the trail descends back to lake level and crosses Honker Dam. The herons that I always saw just northwest of the dam were still there, too.
Out on Lake Barley, I saw a small pod of coots (I'm pretty sure they were coots) swimming away from me.
To the right, Honker Lake was clearly down. As I noted from the other side of the lake, the metal trestles that supported high tensions wires now stood upon muddy flats rather than surrounded by water. Lily pads were mostly dried up, some of them also sitting on muddy flats. But there were still plenty of egrets to admire in the distance.
Crossing over to the other side of Honker Lake, there's a gravel road that soon connects to a paved road. The paved road is LBL Road 138, and connects with the same road that runs south, past Energy Lake. It also seemed to run a distance to the north, and another peninsula that promised a good view of Lake Barkley. I had noticed this road in the past, but never bothered walking that way. So, today, I did.
After only a few hundred yards, a locked metal gate was encoun-tered, that would prevent cars from driving further. However, that road itself continued somewhat further, so I kept walking. It crossed an open field. Below and to the right, I saw a large flock of Canada geese.
The road then climbed a bit, and ended in a small loop. As I approached the area surrounded by the loop, I saw several monarch butterflies, tanking up for their migration south. I also heard rustling, and saw a very large snake (3-4 feet in length) slither into the bushes.
Took some pictures there, then continued pass the paved loop. A well-defined (but lightly used) dirt road continued up the peninsula. Before long, I encountered numerous numbered stakes in the ground, indicating this used to be a nature walk.
The path climbed, then descended, again. When it entered a large field (obviously mowed within the past few weeks), the path was less clear. It's possible that if I continued on my original path, the path would pick up again at the other end of the path. However, I decided to make a right turn, and walk what seemed like a more direct path to Lake Barkley. Well over 150 yards of field this way, with some bark-like weed stumps sticking a few inches up to try to trip me.
At the other end of the field, a thin screen of trees (maybe 25 yards thick stood between the mowed field and the shoreline.
Picking my way through the trees, I saw that there was a drop of about five feet between the ground and tree-level, and the shoreline. Right where the level dropped, there were occasional fallen trees, their root balls undercut by watery erosion. Those fallen trees provided the only reasonable access to the lake level.
As I poked my way around, looking for a good access point, I spooked a total of three bald eagles. My pictures of the are horrible, because my auto focus camera has an issue with focusing on blue sky, even if a big bird's in the middle of the frame. But I included one of my fuzzy frames just to show that, despite the fuzziness, it's definitely a bald eagle: White head and crown, yellow beak, white tail feathers. Definitely big birds, because even at a distance, they were big enough to be recognized.
One of the eagles was kind enough to fly back over me after it gained some altitude. However, between the trees, the slow focus, and a dying battery, I still only managed the fuzzy, "Loch Ness Monster" or "Bigfoot" quality of shots.
There's a fair-sized island just off the tip of this peninsula, so I also took several shots of the island. Also, when looking to the west from this peninsula, on to the opposite shore, I could see a small flock of egrets on a tree. I took many shots of them, as well. Of course, the contrast of light and shadow also made those shots somewhat problematic.
Looking across Lake Barkley, I could see several large structures, some of which are probably within Lake Barkley State Resort Park. I also saw a large boat. To the south, coming out from LBL and running into Lake Barkley, I saw what might have been a partially submerged wharf.
When I headed back, I briefly walked further south along Road #138, to get a better view of this "wharf." On closer inspection, it turned out to be a pipe, 4-6 inches in diameter. No idea what it's for. I didn't get very close to it, either, because the flock of Canada geese that I had seen earlier were now in the water off the "wharf." Didn't want to disturb them.
Funny thing about Road #138: Here, there are these towering oak trees on either side. It was somewhat windy, so when the wind blew, numerous acorns fell what must have been 60-80 feet or more. They landed with quite a "CRACK" noise on the pavement. I walked with my hands above my head just in case, but, fortunately, did not get hit.
I walked back to the paved loop, where a monarch butterfly was still eating. I took several more pictures of it here, then returned the way I came.
I estimate 5.5 miles of walking for the day.
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