This hike had been postponed from last fall. It was set as a conservation project to be led by T.J. to finish up his 50-Miler Award. We were to clean up the campsites along the Sycamore Trail and Terrill Ridge.
By the time we actually got to the hike, only four crew members were available to go: myself, leader T.J., T.C. and his dad, Pat. We got out to the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower just before 9:00 a.m. And off we went.
T.J., T.C., Pat
T.J. set an easy pace down the valley alongside the creek. We crossed this creek several times. I always like to see the sun play along the water. It was so quiet in the woods that you could hear the water plashing over the gravel bottom.
I love to wander by the stream that dances in the sun
We heard woodpeckers and a few songbirds. We saw a couple of deer when we reached the bottom of the valley. Not much else was stirring. Few wildflowers were out yet. Mayapples were just shooting up, but not quite open. A very few fiddleheads were up, but most of these were opening, so for dining purposes, they were past their sell-by date. I tried one that was still coiled up, and promptly spit it out. Tasted like peanut shells. Either it was already too old or Chopped gives a different species to chefs in their mystery baskets.
Ferns that haven't unfurled yet
After cleaning up the campsites at the bottom of the valley, we started hiking back uphill. We stopped for lunch at a deer pond about halfway to Terrill Ridge. The sun was getting warm and I was wishing that I'd brought shorts to wear instead of twill pants.
Soon we reached Terrill Ridge and turned up the road toward the cemetery. The gate by the Fire Tower is only open by special permission and on Memorial Day weekend to provide access back to the cemetery. We did not visit it this day but went to our favorite campsite by the big frog pond.
One of our favorite campsites
There really wasn't much trash and junk to pick up. We were soon heading back up Terrill Ridge toward the Fire Tower. We saw a three-foot black snake. It would not stay to have its picture taken. We reached the Fire Tower about 1:35 and were soon on our way back to town.
The Road Goes Ever On
Our little hike covered about seven miles, bringing my lifetime hiking total to about 1,525 miles. And there's more adventure yet afoot. Rougher! Tougher! Buffer!