So last Saturday Me and three Local friends had agreed to meet up at a local trail head and take a good day hike... just us guys. A few others from the group we know each other from on social media had decided to come but failed to make it due to short notice and the way it was thrown together... but it was mainly for us four who showed up (My best friend also showed up early and we met him along the trail.... but he had no disagreements with anyone... and just came out that day for a hike.)... And the purpose was so we could put down the mouse... get outside in nature... and settle our disagreements like men. Talk it out, fight it out (no-one really expected that one all though I guess it WAS possible.), Get it out, and leave it on the trail. It was a "Bury the Hatchet" trip.
We had been
way to focused on too few and too controversial topics revolving around
some agreeably very negative real world events and implications and the
arguments had simply gotten out of hand... it was time to put down the
mouse and back away and get some face to face time... in nature and away
from all distractions and miscommunications.
I have to say
though as far as Burying hatchets went... we had pretty much argued
things out I think before arrival. Seemed we all had at least ONE thing
we wanted to say to another in person and clear up without
misunderstanding... but mostly... it was ALL about the Hike and nature
and getting to know each other in the wild and Loving it... and all that
waited until the three guys from the group were back at the parking lot
getting ready to leave after... and we all said our piece and got it
out inside of twenty minutes without trouble or hurt feelings.
When I arrived the other three had arrived ahead of me (my ride was
delayed slightly) and waiting by the picnic table at the head of the
trail... talking and showing off what new gear they had to show... so of
course first thing when I walked up was show and tell. I let them see
and handle My new Celtokee Haxe and they finally got to see my re-worked
machete / seax finished and in person... and a couple knives (My FFK
(file fish knife) by Mike Lang, and my new American Trade Knife from
Deer Creek Forge made by Clinton Armstrong for this trip.)... and while
one had a VERY awesome new knife from 2 birds metal works made by Mike
Jeffries to show off I loved and another had some great ferro rods and
generally some cool gear all around.
After about twenty minutes
or so and we took off up the trail. Being as this trail was central to
my home woods I took the point position at first... and we headed up the
first major hill climb I Know as "Hawks Bluff"... which is a nice steep
densely wooded hillside on the blunt southward facing slope of a large
horse-shoe shaped Ridge I Know obviously as "Hawks Ridge". The trail
forks once about a quarter of the way up.
To the left you
gradually work your way around the southernmost slope rising to about
halfway up. From that point one can follow the trail back down into the
valley on the other side of the ridge and start up the backside of it...
or they can take the very challenging off trail uphill ascent up the
impressive and challenging exposed rock face slope which rises to a
slope close to 50 degrees or more and who's face is composed of badly
weathered and decayed exposed slate rock and limestone... all the way to
the top to meet up again with the trail... were it would have led you
to had you gone right at the fork instead of left... a trail which
slowly winds up a steep but somewhat more gradual ascent to the very top
of the bluff... and then runs along the top of the bluff to the peak of
the ridge and beyond. The Left direction at the Y... that's the "Hard"
or "Advanced" way to get up hawks bluff in my opinion... and the way to
the right is the "easier" or "Intermediate" path. (There are NO "Easy"
or "Bunny" trails out HERE!).
Anyway about half way to that
first fork in the trail ... I was thankful to realize that while I did
in fact have the most pack weight with the axe and all (not all of which
was admittedly necessary)... at least I wasn't the only one indoors too
much and badly out of shape. I Used to run up this bluff... 1/4 of the
way and all ready I was feeling winded... and also seeing and hearing of
slight signs of fatigue in the others as well.
It was of no
major consequence however... as not only was I not alone in struggling a
bit at first... but I was also not alone in something WAY more
important and relieving to see. NO-ONE on this trip was IN a hurry!
Often I would look back... and instead of being rushed along by eyes
forward goal oriented only hikers... I would see my favorite thing...
stragglers...lol grin emoticon
not to say they were lagging behind at all in any bad way... but their
progress was slowed by their deep appreciation for nature... their awe
at their environment... and when I would look back one or another would
be drawing attention to a rock, a plant, a view... some useful element
they were finding along the way that being so accustomed to the
environment I had walked right past. We found flintrocks great for
knapping and for arrowheads, we fount bits of chert which I have always
been familiar with and enjoyed for its reddish color variations and for
breaking to sharp shards... but which I also learned on that trip will
spark on steel or flint LIKE flint. One friend tested it on some char
cloth he had brought and got an ember off it in nothing flat!
When we did reach the fork in the trail... we agreed to take the gradual
easier trail to the right... and still just before the bluff summit I
was winded and we were tired a bit and stopping for another sit...
during which My best friend who had arrived at the woods much earlier
that day descended from the summit where he was expecting we would be
coming through and he met up with us and took over point for a while. We
rested there a while at the bluff and took in what I consider to be one
of my favorite long distance views of the hills and valleys of my
homeland... and then we continued up the trail to the very peak of the
ridge. Along the way we tried out some of our bladed weapons... some of
them for the first time... and everyone who needed one cut a nice staff
to use as we went in the process... all from densely overgrown regions
as we passed through and of plentiful wood species so as to have minimal
negative impact on the ecosystem mind you. I was Impressed with the
respect and appreciation for nature I saw that day.
It was Just
shy of the ridge summit that I had my worst case of getting winded...
from being out of shape of course... and I had slightly overheated to
the point I momentarily felt nauseous and had to sit down (I should
mention I was out of shape... but also sleep deprived from the night
before and I hadn't eaten yet that day... which kinda explains why there
was such a big wall I hit around the end of my first good wind...) But
fortunately I sat a while and it passed quickly... and I went on to join
the others at the summit.
Then In the course of conversation we
saw it had been a couple hours in all ready... so they asked when the
trail would bring us back to the trail head. I Immediately let them know
that while it IS a loop of a trail (actually several loops)... we
hadn't even half rounded the smallest loop yet... so we opted for the
way we came as our return path. The path Back went smooth, much quicker
and there was no more major need for breaks.
Right at the end me
and my best friend started to lag behind just a bit... but as they took a
bridge and walked the road a ways to the cars we paralleled them along
the trail instead and this met us all back at the same trail head and
their cars at the same time. That's when My friend backed off a bit and
me and the others settled anything that needed it... and then the three
From the group I had came to meet had left me and my best friend in the
woods... a little wore out... but also Just starting to feel our second
wind... and Knowing that all concerns of being out of shape or out of
breathe were pretty well over for the day.
Well... I said right
at the end... but that was FAR from the end... just end of chapter
one... the day hike. This day would be a two hike adventure! Now me and
my best friend of 20+ years were alone in our home woods like old times
again... and there was plenty of light left! Immediately we went the
opposite way... away from the Trail with the Loops and Away from hawks
bluff... across the road and into the deeper trail section of forest.
Quickly we crossed the first ridge and the clearing to the other side
and back into the woods... and paused a bit at an old resting spot in a
creek bed. a little ways more to a certain place we know... and off
trail we went! STRAIGHT up "copperhead bluff"!!!
Now I will
admit we have known of this bluff not near as long as hawks bluff. It
got its name from the copperheads we found guarding the approach to the
place who habitually bask on its southern face on certain very large
exposed boulders of dense limestone. No trails lead to this bluff... and
only a short branch off of another ridge leads you to it. It is
Isolated and it is HUGE! Its GOT to be pushing 65 to 70 degrees in some
places... and nearly one and a half times the height of hawks bluff.
Aside from the occasional patch of dense carpet moss or stones the only
footing up it is loose... dry... deep leafs of the bare autumn forest
None the less I took this portion of the trip in stride...
as did my best friend who almost always does. I did stop once myself
about halfway up to catch my breath... once... but for the briefest of
moments and mostly because there was a pair of shady pines arching over
and beckoning me to rest there for a moment which I simply could not
resist... and with a GREAT view! Then we quickly crested our second big
hill challenge of the day... and got our SECOND impressive long distance
view over the hills for the day!
Here we found the woven stick
shelter we had started when we had stealth camped here once before... as
well as the stone wood stove shaped fire oven I built there from
ridge-top field stones. These were in slight dis-array... but we quickly
got it back to how we left it and added another hour or two of work to
sureing up the structure to the point it is nearly complete and ready
for thatching. I also enlarged and modified the stone stove to more of a
nice fire-place like design using yet more stone I hauled over from
nearby. In past experience stone wood ovens like this have proven a
HIGHLY efficient and effective means of maintaining heat from a small,
contained, well concealed fire of small sticks and kindling sized wood
for cool over-nighters.
One Highlight of the trip was at the
first signs of twilight when we decided to head back... still on top of
Copperhead Bluff. We took our same approach to getting back we took to
get there... only this time I turned my camera on and tried to get a
first person point of view of myself half running, half falling, and two
thirds sliding down the leafy lightly wooded hillside of its south
western face... and it was ALL of that, along with some log balancing
across a couple small run-offs along the hillside before we met back up
with the trail I found our way out. Sadly that video how ever came out
too blurry and jumpy for use... I am still learning to use the camera
I then caught a ride home with him and returned
back to suburbia... Happy, centered, well vented, and thoroughly
exhausted. It was a GOOD day. I got to see my strengths... and I
definitely saw the effects of my sedentary lifestyle as of late and my
resulting weakness's and problem areas as well. Above all else... I need
to get out more... But THAT was a GOOD DAY!
(*Note: I refrained
from using names and overly obvious location references in this because
this writing is intended for a general public audience. I have done this
both out of respect and appreciation of the privacy of others involved
and also to conceal the location of certain off the map locations
enjoyed by myself and a very... very select few people... so that those
places may be reserved and protected.)
(*Side Note: I forgot my
still camera that day, and my attempts at video filming were all
failures... so for the sake of this post... I will highlight it with
this slightly older picture from a day trip I took recently on my own...
of me relaxing at the top of "Hawks Bluff"... as an indicator of the
terrain we were in at the time... all though this was from spring... and
it is now Autumn and the views are better now and more open and