Friday, December 9, 2011

Hike 2011.088 -- Golden Pond Area, Land Between the Lakes NRA, KY

Hiked Friday, December 9. Short hike, for a variety of reasons. Possibly my last hike in LBL, although there's a chance I'll try to squeeze another one in tomorrow.

Parked at the Golden Pond Trailhead, which is mainly intended for access to the North-South Trail. However, I was going to check out a different trail, which I explored for the first time after my Peytona Trail hike.

To start my day in the LBL, however, I walked on down to the planetarium. As I've noted, my time in Kentucky is growing very short, and I still have a number of entries prepaid with my "fun card." Probably won't be able to use them all, so I'll have to gift my card to a colleague, I think.

Today's show was on various winter solstice-related activities around the world.

I learned they're getting a new planetarium projector in the LBL next year (planeta-rium shows end before Christmas, and don't start up again until March). That would be cool. The current set up is relatively fuzzy, with slide projectors integrated into the show. The new one will probably be laser-projected stars, and digital projected accompaniment. Pricey, but it will upgrade the quality of the shows they can present immensely.

After the show, I did my little walk for the day. I took the paved trail that heads south from the visitor center. About 100 yards from the back door, a trail heads off to the left (if you had continued straight, you would run past the Golden Pond Observatory, which is [was] home to the Western Kentucky Amateur Astronomers, a group I joined during my brief stay in western Kentucky. They're a great group for astronomy outreach in the area, and a nice bunch of people). [Note: I had a link to the WKAA website here, but they must have let the domain expire, so now there's an astrologer who uses the address!]

There's a new sign being erected at this junction. I assume it'll be about the observa-tory.

However, my destination today was to follow the winding path to the east. Last time, I walked as far as I could, before having to rush back to the parking lot to keep from getting locked in. Today, by parking at the trailhead lot instead of the visitor center lot, if I ended up running late, I would be able to avoid being locked in.

The trail crosses under a road, and passes behind the administra-tive offices for the LBL. It then continues south, past employee housing, where it crosses another road. This is LBL Road #165, which passes by the hunter check-in station, and heads down to Friends of LBL. The actual trail also eventually gets there. But first, it passes behind an RV dump station, then in front of a large "carport" that holds about five large harvesters.

The trail ends at a fenced area bordering the Friends of LBL area. Lots of large buildings in there. Looks like maybe fire trucks and other vehicles are stored back there.

Total distance to this point is, I suspect, a bit over 1 mile.

On the return, I diverted myself briefly on the North-South Trail, walking to the other side of the "carport," just to remind myself of what I saw when I walked this section of the North-South trail, what seems like a very long time ago. Then I turned around, and followed the North-South trail north, then west, across the Trace, then back north and then east, returning at the Golden Pond Trailhead.

Since this was not yet a three mile hike, I continued back down the access road and circum-navigated the visitor center. Nice picnic area down there, with a view of this little Golden Pond. Amazingly enough, there's a sign there indicating the regulations for catfish in this pond. They must plant fish in there during the summer. It's a small pond, probably less than 1/2 of an acre.

When I got back up to the the trailhead where I parked, I took a picture of my car. I attached the Yakima roof rack yesterday. Probably going to do most of my car packing on Sunday, then aim to leave for California on either Monday or Tuesday.

It's going to be a bittersweet homecoming; one of my cats, which I was very attached to, had to be put down earlier today. It's one of those "silly" things I thought about when I had to leave home to take this job. It was going to be a year away from home for me, but that's like five years to a cat. When I decided for sure last month to call it quits after a semester and come home, I thought that I would be able to make up for lost time when I got back. Still wasn't soon enough.


  1. I've been reading your posts about the LBL, in anticipation of a possible hiking trip there this spring or summer. I just kind of lucked into your blog when I was doing a google search. Thanks for posting all your information and photos. It was certainly nice of you to share. I was sorry to hear about your cat. I have a cat too, and I know what it is like to lose a pet.

  2. Google's an amazing thing. Don't quite know how it works, but it sure does make finding trail write-ups a whole lot easier!

    All my LBL hikes were from late summer through late fall. However, I could definitely see a "bathtub" ring of debris along many of the lakeshore trails. No doubt those lower areas are under water sometime between late winter and early spring. Sure would be nice to see what the wildflowers look like in the spring, though!

    Thanks for the sympathy about my cat. I was pretty devastated about his death, particularly since I couldn't be there at the end.

  3. BTW, you probably came across a post or two about the Western Kentucky Amateur Astronomers group. If you have any interest in astronomy, be sure to schedule your visit so you can view a planetarium show or attend one of their public outreach events. They're installing a new planetarium projector at Golden Pond this winter, and they got a great new telescope installed last year. Astronomy geeks in the LBL area don't know how lucky they are!

  4. Hi "Skyhiker,"

    I too stumbled upon your blog while Googling for info on the LBL Planetarium. Thanks for saying such nice things about WKAA. I'm glad you enjoyed your time with us. Thanks for your help. We miss you. I didn't know you were so into trail hiking. I might have joined you sometime. You might be interested in checking out my website/blog:
    I also know what it is like to lose a beloved pet. We had to have our nearly 17 year old dog put down last year.

    May there always be starlight on your path.

  5. Hi, Bob!

    Thanks for stopping by to say hello. WKAA and LBL were the best parts of my time in western Kentucky. Definitely would have gone nuts if it wasn't for that.

    Other than a couple of sidewalk astronomy nights since I got back home, my telescope hasn't been getting much use. Having a regular, 5-day a week work schedule (and a night class I teach at a local community college), I'm so beat by the weekend, I rarely feel like driving for dark skies. The other difference was that Golden Pond was a 30 minute drive from Murray, whereas similar dark skies here are 2 1/2 hours away.

    Nice hearing from you. I still check the WKAA google group postings on occasion. Recently discovered I'm going to miss out on a potluck dinner, for example. ;D

    I'll definitely check out your blog, too.

  6. Glad you enjoyed reading. I definitely have fun (most of the time) with my hikes. The week I wrote this blog originally was not a very good week, of course. Sure seems like it was a lot longer ago than just 14 months ago, that's for sure.