Tag Archives: Trail

Trail Call

IMG_0341Snowfall turn snowmelt

Turn undulating earth abounding green.

Waking land escapes the winter sleep

And the voice of earth unfolds

And calls souls who hear it.

Hands reach for boots, tie laces.

Inventories and gear and maps

Result in pack shouldered and courses set.

alex_ford_flickrThe trailhead is an embrace,

A unique comfort,

Welcoming the footfalls that are put there.

Moving into the green,

Folded into forest,

Sanctified by mountains.

Home at last! BitoRjbIgAE2g-r

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Fauna of the Appalachian Trail…white-tailed deer

A deeply rewarding aspect of hiking and backpacking the Appalachian Trail is the richness of animal life.  The trail weaves near towns and crosses roads and highways but it’s still “wild country,” and backpackers will meet the creatures who call it home.  Your best chance to see animals on the trail is to practice “walking softly” for periods of time.  Exceptions to this might be if you’re hiking in bear territory or rattlesnake country, where you’d want to create some stir to warn these animals of your presence and avoid a close encounter.  Otherwise, walking without making undue noise will allow you to see and enjoy the woodland residents.

White-tailed Deer Fawn

White-tailed Deer Fawn (Photo credit: Moosicorn)

My first sight of white-tailed deer was along the Georgia stretch of the A.T. my third day trekking northbound.  Hiking along the flat section of ridge line amid thick deciduous forest, I stopped to take a drink of water when a puffy white “flash” caught my eye.  I saw the twitch of a white deer tail some feet ahead.  I raised a hand hushing my hiking companions for silence, and we enjoyed watching a small band of adolescent deer as they fed along the trail side ahead of us.

White-tailed deer enjoy a vast range over North America.  Estimates are that their population is up to 15 million in the United States alone.  Since their diet includes seed, acorns, berries, leaves, shoots and twigs, you’ll find them grazing along trails and in fields.  Streams and low areas of forest lands are also frequented by white-tailed deer.

Here’s a helpful suggestion on how to increase your chances of seeing forest fauna.  During a rest stop shed your backpack and sit quietly against a rock or tree.  Since many creatures scatter on hearing approaching humans, you’ll discover that if you’re able to sit quietly for five minutes or more the animals may return.

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Vital Foundations: of Hiking Boots

Vasque Cascades

Vasque Cascades (Photo credit: simonov)

I remember the first thing I bought was a pair of Vasque Cascade backpacking boots.  They were the last pair from an outfitter just outside Albemarle, NC.  At the time I had done some day hikes in the Uwharrie National Forest and sneakers were inadequate.  Plus I had read up on The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher, and it was pretty obvious that more substantial hiking gear was needed for whatever sort of trip I was going to take.

Unlike boot care today, I had to SnoSeal those babies to soften the leather and then walk around with them for weeks to break them in.  I wore them to work at the radio station, around town, in the mall, pretty much anywhere I could.

Linville Falls in the Linville Gorge Wildernes...

Linville Falls in the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Photo taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 in Burke County, North Carolina, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon enough came time to give them a real test; a shakedown backpacking trip up at Linville Gorge Wilderness in the Blue Ridge mountains.

Wildly rugged and accessible only by a washboard road which goes well off the asphalt, Linville Gorge Wilderness is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” and offers a stunning challenge of hiking trails, from simple visits to an overlook to drops into the deep, cool environs along the riverbank.

For me, the first break-in hike was up to Table Rock, which soared over the eastern rim of the Linville Gorge.  Table Rock was a bear to climb, but it proved the boots were more than up to the task of

Tablerock Mountain as seen from Dogback Mountain

Tablerock Mountain as seen from Dogback Mountain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

putting down serious trail miles.  Sturdy and reliable, I never so much as turned an ankle.  The added insurance of stiff leather hugging my ankles firmly went a long way to boosting my confidence when negotiating strenuous trail.  And nothing else beat the exhilaration of standing on top of the summit without so much as a blister.

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