Saturday, January 31, 2009

14 Miler in Charlottesville

Today, part of our marathon team joined Team Charlottesville for a hilly and tough 14 miler. Enough of it went through scenic and rural areas that I decided to link the description and photos in my racing for a cure blog.

It was a fun outing, but tiring. It was nice to meet teammates from other parts of Virginia.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hollywood Rapids

Our 11 mile team run today felt like a hike at times, passing on to Belle Isle and past the impressive Hollywood Rapids.

So I am linking to that post from my hiking blog for the many photos I took during this fun outing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gray Day at Back Bay

Despite yesterday’s cold 12+ miles marathon training, my legs were only slightly fatigued today. I guess I am slowly getting back in shape. So I decided a short hike in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge was in order.

It was a cold, gray day there, but not nearly as cold as yesterday – probably 20 or more degrees warmer. Even so, sleet spit at times, and there was a bit of a wind chill. I didn’t bother to bring a camera or binoculars, figuring that I didn’t want to mess with the former, and really not the latter either. Most of the trails, especially the dike trail to False Cape, are closed through March, and there are limited chances to see wildlife. Turtles, snakes, and frogs are hibernating deep within the mud. Many of the more exotic birds have migrated for the winter. So I treated this as a hike for a little bit of exercise, with a remote chance of running into interesting animals or great scenery.

I could hear the haunting calls of hundreds of snow geese well out into the bay. Even without binoculars, I could see all the white dots in the distance. The distinctive calls of Canada geese blended in, along with some ducks quacking in the icy marshes. I spotted a belted kingfisher flying over one small pond, hearing its rattling call before I actually spotted the bird. I marveled that an animal could survive in this weather, solely on being able to catch small fish with its mouth.

Everything was grey – sky, water, horizon – but not my mood. It rarely is, and especially not when messing around in the outdoors, getting some fresh air and exercise. So while the exotic wildlife was not to be seen and the wind blew a bit, it just was fun to be outside for a few miles.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Snow Geese

I was at the beach for a couple of days, and today dawned cold and clear. After the rain of yesterday afternoon, and a tough ten miles for training Friday morning, it seemed like a good morning for a short winter hike. I was a little stiff and sore from the miles yesterday, and so took it at a very easy pace, hiking about 3 miles.

I was in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I saw a pretty buck on the drive into the refuge - maybe the same one that I watched a couple of months ago. I parked the car - the only one in the parking lot. Shortly after starting my hike, I could hear the sounds of geese in the distance. Their calls got louder and louder. I startled about 20 ducks in the marsh, and they flew off, quacking as they flew.

When I reached an area with open views, I could see snow geese by the hundreds or even the thousands in the distance. They were from a couple of hundred yards to about a half mile away. It was quite a sight, and a beautiful sound to hear them all calling.

After hiking down to the observation blind - two lonely mallards were the only things I saw - I headed out for a little beach combing. Looks like Harry Potter (or maybe it was Lord Vol... er, He Who Shall Not be Named) got there first:

I found deer tracks all over while hiking, including these on the beach itself:

I also found the egg case of a whelk (the long thing that looks kind of like a snake skin or a backbone) and of skates. The egg cases of the later are sometimes called "Mermaid Purses":