The Walking Posts

The posts labeled with the little “Truckin’ ” man are from my Walking Journal, which I've been keeping since January 1, 2012. What began as a simple New Year's Resolution to exercise more quickly morphed into a hiking addiction. Below are some running totals.

  MILES TIME ASCENT CALORIES
February 2022 2.41 0h 54m 196 195
Year to Date 31.28 11h 40m 2093 2534
February Avg. 22.56 10h 33m 1036 2362

Ten Years…!

Posted By on February 6, 2022

The first post on this blog is dated January 1, 2012. Yeah, I know it’s now February, but due to a series of unfortunate events, the older posts required… well, a lot of work. A great deal of my photos had been lost by my previous hosting company. I still had the originals, but they needed to be re-exported and re-linked to the posts where the photos were missing.

Weetamoo Woods, January 31, 2012

At last count, there are currently 865 published posts, and 18 drafts—17 once I put this one up. Needless to say, it took a loooonnngg time to fix everything, but fix it I did.

hardware

pink is the new red, August 12, 2013

It was an interesting exercise to look back on 10 years of hiking. I never did explain the backstory, either.

more marsh grass

Barn Island, November 16, 2014

Back over 10 years ago now I was diagnosed with osteoporosis. Not the more benign osteopenia… the full deal. My doctor wanted to put me on one of the bone density drugs, like Fosimax or Boneva or whatever, but I happened to have a friend who had not one but two spontaneous femur breaks while she was on those drugs, and I frankly wanted no part of them.

standing stone

Cahirsaveen to Waterville (Ireland), September 10, 2015

“Well, then you’re going to have to start doing some weight-bearing exercise,” the doctor said. At the time, my idea of exercise was going out into the garden to pick tomatoes. But I was determined to avoid taking those drugs, so I thought I’d try this whole “weight-bearing exercise” thing out.

Well, as you might have guessed, the rest is history. I was thoroughly hooked on hiking AND I successfully increased my bone density to the point where I was no longer diagnosed with osteoporosis, but “merely” osteopenia.

Since then, as you can see, I’ve hiked many, many miles and had many, many interesting adventures. I successfully completed the “Sky’s the Limit” Challenge sponsored by the Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, once at least.

I’ve hiked sections of the Appalachian Trail, The Wales Coast Path, The Kerry Way, and completed the Bay Circuit Trail.

I’ve hiked in a dozen states and several foreign countries, including South Korea. And then there was that time I broke my ankle while hiking and had to be carried out of the woods.

Hemp Hill Knob, June 23, 2020

I’ve made so many friends! People I met while hiking, and people I met through my blogging on social media, and people from groups I’ve hiked with. Turns out, there are a lot of great people out there hiking!

Jane Bald from Carver’s Gap, September 24, 2021

In January of 2020, my husband and I sold our house in Connecticut and moved to Asheville, North Carolina. Just in time for the pandemic! And believe me, hiking in the mountains of Western North Carolina is a whole different thing than the hiking the flatlands of southeastern New England. And there’s bears! I’m still working on getting my mountain legs, and lungs, but I’m having a blast just poking around Asheville in the meantime.

Beaver Lake, January 1, 2022

And I sincerely hope to have many more adventures. I hope to tell you all about them—stay tuned!

Beaver Lake

Posted By on January 1, 2022

Beaver Lake

2.25 miles; 16 ft. total ascent; Asheville, NC

This post is a composite of many, many walks around this pretty suburban lake. I’m here at least once a week.

Beaver Lake is part private park, Lakeview Park, and part Audubon Bird Sanctuary. You can also rent boats and kayaks here in the summer.

Heron

The bird sanctuary part is tiny, only about 8 acres, and it really isn’t on the lake, per se, but in a wetland area at the eastern end, where there is also parking for maybe 30 or so cars, and is where the entrance to the boardwalk that goes through the wetland can be found. There are a couple of observation decks and a nice gazebo on the sanctuary, too. [Ed. note: see update, below]

Views of the Mountains from the Trail

The Perimeter Trail that circles the lake starts from the sanctuary parking lot as well. You will meet plenty of runners and walkers here. This is really what my friend Marjorie calls an “Easy Walk,” in that it’s basically flat and for the most part has very even footing. The stretch along the south shore is a little rooty, but it’s easily navigated. Lots of dog walkers, too, but I’ve never once seen any dogs off-leash. (Note: dogs are not allowed on the sanctuary part at all.)

Natural Art

I was fascinated by the pretty design at end of this cut log. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Unnatural Art

There’s also the occasional bit of man-made art to be found, too.

December 29 Daffs

And not for anything, but the weather here has been so kind that it has fooled these daffodils into poking above ground. I have a feeling that won’t last, tho.

You can find out more about Lakeview Park and the Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary at the links at the beginning of this post. If you’re a Facebook user, check out my friend Marjorie’s Easy Walks page here. And as always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

UPDATE: Wednesday, January 5, 2022, I visited the boardwalk loop in the Audubon sanctuary. It’s a 1/4-mile loop that is all boardwalk, with numerous benches and observation platforms. I have updated this post to reflect this. Word of warning, though, in cold weather the board walk gets a bit icy.

Jane Bald from Carver’s Gap

Posted By on September 24, 2021

Jane Bald from Carver's Gap

3.27 miles; 613 ft. total elevation; Roan Mountain, TN

Whew. It’s not a lot of mileage, but it’s probably one of the most spectacular hikes I’ve ever done. I got the idea to try to hit some sections of the Appalachian Trail, since it’s really not far from where I am nowadays, and I picked this hike because it includes a “bald,” or a mountain peak devoid of trees. Which is another of my obsessions.

American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana)

There’s a fairly large parking area at Carver’s Gap (also a bathroom—bonus!), which is right on the North Carolina/Tennessee border. The AT itself crosses the road just a little bit north of the parking lot, and there’s a little short trail that connects with it. There is a big field where the trailhead is and it’s filled with big shrubby ashes, which right now are chock-full of bright red berries.

The Trail

After connecting with the AT, the trail swiftly moves from the field into a hemlock forest which is in itself a lovely quiet place. Although, be warned, this is a very heavily-trafficked hike, so unless you go at dawn, you definitely won’t have it all to yourself.

NoBo on the AT

You pretty quickly come to the “bald” part of this hike, and the views from here on are simply amazing. I was fortunate that it was a beautiful clear day. And it’s really thrilling to come across the iconic white blazes of the AT, here marked in the travel direction. NoBo it is!

Eastern Agueweed (Gentianella quinquefolia)

So many cool wildflowers to see, too, even in late September. I love these bottle gentians—I’d never seen them before I started hiking in NC.

Signage

And here is the signage for Jane’s Bald, at over 5800 feet. There was more to see just beyond here, too…

View from the Bald

 

More View

 

And Still More View

I have so many photos of this view! But you can see what it’s like to be on top of a mountain peak with no trees obstructing things. It’s spectacular.

Wild Basil (Clinopodium vulgare)

Also, did you know there was such a thing as Wild Basil? Me neither! I didn’t ID it till I got home, so I can’t say if it smells like what we think of as basil, unfortunately.

You can find out more about Jane Bald (including the origin of the name) from this post on the Hiking in the Smokys blog. And as always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

Fonta Flora Loop Trail

Posted By on June 22, 2021

Fonta Flora Loop Trail

3.74 miles; 418 ft. total ascent; Morgantown, NC

Was looking for something a bit less strenuous, and this hike fit the bill. It’s a lollipop loop that starts from a little county-owned park in Morgantown and heads down to the shore of Lake Saint James, then circles back.

It’s actually a tiny section of a proposed 100-mile trail that will eventually go from Morgantown to Asheville, and the name Fonta Flora comes from the… Imma let the state of North Carolina give you the deets:

It is named after the local settlement of African-American sharecroppers, whose homes were flooded when the Catawba River was dammed to create Lake James. The feather icon of this state trail was inspired by our national bird, the bald eagle. Artwork incorporating the feather has been used along the trail and at the trailheads, particularly in Burke County.

Gosh. How odd that the only place they could find to put a lake/reservoir was on top of a settlement of African-American sharecroppers! I’m sure they looked everywhere else first…

Here’s the link to the trail website. I basically did section #2 on the map, plus to and from the trailhead.

The Trail

It’s a really lovely trail that hugs the shore of Lake James. Mostly flat and level, with a hill here and there but nothing strenuous.

Feather Blaze

It’s also quite well blazed with these feather blazes mentioned in the excerpt from the website, above.

Excellent signage

This trail system hooks up with the 20-mile Linville Gorge Trail in a couple places. And again with the feather motif.

Pretty Bridge

All in all this is a lovely, well-maintained and marked trail system. If it’s any indication of the future Fonta Flora Trail, I can’t hardly wait!

You can find out more about this trail from the above-linked website. For info on Lake Saint James State Park, see this website. And as always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

MTS From Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center to Folk Art Center

Posted By on May 6, 2021

MTS From Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center to Folk Art Center

6.74 miles; 639 ft. total elevation; Asheville, NC

So I saw this story about a tunnel on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in my local paper. It read in part:

In April, a portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which sits along a section of land owned and operated by eight different jurisdictions, became an illegal dump and what many believed to be a public safety hazard.

Trail maintainers and environmental advocates spent months organizing meetings with land owners and government officials to clean it up and prevent future dumping.

And my first thought was “Wait, what? There’s a tunnel on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail? OH, COOL!”

So naturally, I had to go hike that section.

Bonus Tunnel!

Ooo! Tunnel… No, that can’t be THE tunnel, because the tunnel from the article goes under Interstate Route 40. It’s a BONUS tunnel!

Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum)

Lots of these native azaleas in bloom, and they are lovely. Lots of other good stuff in bloom, too.

Rat Snake

Then there was this guy—a totally harmless black rat snake. He was just meandering along the trail, sort of like me.

Steps Down to the Road Crossing

Ah, I see we’re coming out to the road crossing. And the railroad crossing, and the Swannanoa River crossing. So many crossings!

Tunnel Entrance

And now… THE tunnel from the article. All nice and tidy. And yeah, that’s an Interstate highway whooshing by above.

“Scary” Tunnel

And here it is, the scary tunnel. It was fine.

At-Grade Crossing

Post-tunnel, there’s the at-grade railroad crossing.

Swannanoa River

And here’s the river crossing.

Signage and Stile

Imagine my surprise when, after I got over the river, I came across a stile! Haven’t seen too many of these since I’ve been in the mountains. The other side of the stile was a big ol’ cow pasture, complete with cows, who all ignored me for the lush grass. Mind you, still on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail the whole time, as you can see from the white blazes.

Under the Parkway

And over all our heads there’s the Blue Ridge Parkway. What a nifty hike! Many thanks to our local paper, the Asheville Citizen-Times, for pointing me towards this hike.

For more information about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail see this website. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

Clarksville Greenway

Posted By on April 26, 2021

Clarksville Greenway

4.3 miles; 83 ft. total ascent; Clarksville, TN

Visiting with family (FINALLY!) in Central Tennessee, and my sister-in-law and I felt like getting out and doing some walking, so we chose this local greenway/rails-to-trails path in Clarksville. [Insert Monkees song lyrics here]

Signage

It was a flat paved walk that was getting a lot of use this April morning.

The Trail

As you can see, the trees were almost completely leafed out, and there were lots of spring ephemerals to be seen.

Purple Phacelia (Phacelia bipinnatifida)

This in particular caught our eye. It was spread out over a slope in a mass of purple. Really lovely. Gonna have to see if I can find some!

Cannonball Chert in Limestone

We also saw these very cool looking rock formations. Apparently it’s chert, a hard mineral, embedded in limestone. As the limestone erodes it leaves these tubes and balls of the harder chert. It was a good reminder to “Always Read the Plaque.” We would have been quite mystified without it.

You can find out more about the Clarksville Greenway from this website. And as always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

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