A walk in the woods, pt. 2

I didn’t really plan this around Earth Day, but today was a rare day with no pressing obligations. I thought about taking the kayak out, but with a forecast of increasing winds through the morning, I decided to return to Croft State Park and take a more extensive look around. I got there a bit before opening time, but the gates were open so I deposited my admission and proceeded.

Since I was planning to spend quite a while on foot, I decided to forgo my Good Camera and rely on the cell phone, which doesn’t do too bad a job and I needed to take it with me anyway. Any other weight I was carrying went into food and water.

I hadn’t been out of the car but a few minutes when I heard a knocking up in the trees. I followed the sound and found a Pileated Woodpecker working the tree. Unfortunately, with the early light and just my cellphone, there was no way to get a picture. But it was neat watching her for a while. If you’ve never seen one of these birds, they’re One Big Woodpecker. About as big as a full-grown crow.

Things were a lot greener than when I was there the first of the month. I took the Fosters Mill loop trail to the Rocky Ridge trail (as usual, click on the picture for a higher-resolution version):

Most of the rocks I saw were down in the creek, but there was a good bit of “ridge” along this trail:

A short side spur takes one to a place called Whitestone Springs:

where there used to be a hotel and bottling business, but that’s all long gone:

Now it’s just a really nice place to sit and rest for a bit; here’s a little video:
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Rocky Ridge winds it’s way back to the Foster’s Mill loop trail.

which intersects with the Lake Johnson loop trail that takes you to, you guessed it, Lake Johnson. This is the smaller lake I didn’t get to see last time:

As I came around the lake I pretty much came out of the woods and encountered my first major gathering of humans around the boat ramps and picnic areas. I passed a couple of other hikers earlier, but aside from them, I had the place to myself, primate-wise. Of course, I really wasn’t alone out there.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to get back into the woods. I found a nice spot to stop for lunch along that trail. Just remember, everything is “to go” (leave nothing, take nothing):

Butterflies were much in evidence as the day warmed up:

I know I said “leave nothing, take nothing”, but it’s hard not to leave a few footprints, or take a few cobwebs that cross the path. This cobweb wasn’t hard to avoid. That it was bouncing in the gusting wind made it even easier to spot:

This area was used for army training back in WWII days, and there are frequent warnings to stick to the trails, as there may still be unexploded munitions laying around. This tree seemed to take exception to it’s role in holding up those signs:

Back to the other, larger, Lake Craig, where a few hardy canoeists were out in the wind:

With all the twists and turns, especially on the Rocky Ridge trail, I didn’t think a GPS track would come close to an accurate distance, but based on ded reckoning (my typical speed x time), I figure I covered about 14 miles during the almost 5 hours I spent in the woods. I’d call it time well spent, and a good sort of “tired”. And “hungry”…

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