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.

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.

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.

Trail map is here.

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