Monday, February 29, 2016

First Hike of 2016!

I had last Friday, a moderately cool and windy day, off from work, and decided to go for my first hike of 2016.  This one was like visiting an old friend that I hadn't seen in a while - Dutch Gap Conservation Area, a big oxbow on the James River.  It is only a 40 minute drive, and is a flat and easy walk, usually with lots of wildlife.  Despite the wind and it still being winter, I did see a fair amount of wildlife, mostly birds - plus a few large turtles sunning themselves.

I was last here in the fall of 2014.  You can see photos from that hike here.

Here is a map of my route, starting and ending at the upper right, and walking counter clockwise.  The circuit is 4.4 miles, but with all of the little extra side trips, I hiked 6.7.  And I had a fun several hours doing it.  You can see that much of the route is on a very narrow strip of land.

Here are a few photos of my little day hike.  My knee felt okay on the flat surface.  However, at one point I clambered up on a large rock to get a view of a wet area to look for salamander eggs, and when I stepped down, bending my leg way back hurt a great deal.  So I am worried about mountain hiking.

Some of the many animals that I saw were: great blue heron, an osprey (with a fish), a shoveler (I think that is what this large duck was), double crested cormorants, Canada geese, tufted titmouse, cardinal, black-capped chickadee, American coot.

There is lots of mature forest in this area along the river.

The swampy area near the river will likely dry out in a few months.

You don't want to touch this vine, unless you don't mind getting poison ivy.

 During 1864, the Confederate Navy attacked the USA fleet in this area in an attempt to break the siege of Petersburg, Virginia.  The attack was defeated by the US Navy.

This is a distant view of the bridge that allows this hike to be a circuit hike - instead of almost four miles one way, and then returning another four to get back.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Hiking Goals for 2016

February already, and I have not been hiking this year.  I still have the behind-the-knee pain, and it I can't get past that, then maybe I won't hit any of my major goals.  But, one will not make goals unless one establishes them, so time to get out there and state some goals.  On the plus side, my rotator cuff tear is tremendously better than last year at this time, and my sore left ankle is not nearly as sore.

My goals are going to be based on my (largely unrealized) 2015 goals:
  1. Hit the trails for 200 miles.
  2. Go backpacking at least three times.
  3. Join my friend Dick for his annual hike - at age 91 this year - up Mount Washington in New Hampshire.  This will be scheduled in June by Dick, and I will join him if at all possible.  Since I work, we will have to pick a week and hope that the notorious weather up on the Mountain will let us do it, and that there will be vacancies in the Appalachian Mountain Club huts.
  4. Take a week-long hiking vacation.
  5. Lead at least two group hikes.
  6. Continue to master my DeLorme Inreach Explorer.  This one will be a little difficult to measure, but it has a lot of capabilities that I don't know how to use yet.
  7. Take hikes in at least five of Virginia's wonderful state parks.
This seems like a pretty good list to me, with some challenges.  Among the backpacking trips, I would love to see if I can get into Ramsey's Draft Wilderness, McAfee Knob, and/or False Cape State Park.  I also would love to hike the 70 mile Laurel Highlands trail in Pennsylvania, and actually I would love to continue my hike of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park - which I aborted two falls ago when my friend injured his knee just two days and 28 miles in.