"The Best Way to Bury the Hatchet"

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 floor.
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 effectively.
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 colorful

Jason A. Dennison (J.D.)

Jason A. Dennison (J.D.)
Blog Author: Jason A. Dennison (J.D.) ... ... Relaxing @ "Hawks Bluff".

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