Hiking has been taking the back seat a lot so far this year, in favor of radio operating, so when I looked at N0NBH’s solar conditions page and saw “poor” propagation in the forecast I decided to have a hike pure-and-simple! In the pre-dawn hours I filled one bottle with fresh hot coffee and a larger one with cold Gatorade and headed out for an early start.
Old Settler’s Trail at Wildcat Mountain State Park has been one of my favorites for a long time, and the park is reasonably close to home, so I was there a few minutes before 6 am. I prefer to enter and leave the trail near the amphitheater, which avoids a long, irregular set of steps at the other trailhead.
I stopped at the Taylor Hollow overlook to enjoy some of my coffee and check over my pack.
The trail trends downward until the little bridge crossing a creek, then back upward. When I first started hiking here there was an unusual trail marker along here, just a picture of a mushroom, (a good place to hunt for mushrooms?) but it fell down and was lost one winter a few years ago. Continuing to rise, passing through an old planting of Norway pines, and the junction with the steps to the other trailhead, it loops around below the ridge line and crosses another bridge.
At the end of the bridge I found a big tree freshly fallen across the trail which required a bit of a detour. Up and down, twisting around, finally arriving at the other trailside bench, where I finished off my coffee, then finished my hike. About 2 1/2 miles in about 1 hour, 40 minutes.
I wonder how many years this silent sentinel has been watching over the trail.
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