The day began with a picture perfect Saturday morning. After a week of hot and humid days and today waking to a clear sky and 60 degree temperature, I chose whimsy over reason.
A more training-disciplined person would have used this day to continue increasing mileage, 17 miles on the schedule. Deciding to save that 17-mile run for a day or two, I opted for a 12-mile hike with my Meetup group.
We were to hike an area called Sand Springs, new to me, then connect and continue on the Appalachian Trail (AT) on Stony Mountain.
Within the first kilometer of the hike, came the cable bridge across Stony Creek. This was my second experience walking a cable bridge, and its actually fun if not just a little intimidating. Just maintain your concentration.
Next came a rather peaceful section with bubbling stream, rhododendron bordering the trail, fields of ferns, and as you would expect, stones.
That peaceful section was quickly followed by a steep climb up the Yellow Springs Trail through a boulder field. As we climbed up and over rocks my eyes scanned for the blue blazes identifying the trail, looking for each new blue blaze to ensure I was still on trail. The thought “what in blue blazes am I doing here” crept into my psyche. Then to stay positive and keep my mind busy as my body stretched over and found footing on each new rock, I pondered where that phrase came from, what does it mean, etc.
Finally, we crested the top of Stony Mountain with me being the last arrival. A brief flat respite of trail, then a steep descent down, although shorter than the journey up.
Several miles later, we hiked through what had been the Yellow Springs Village. I understand there are some remnants of the town off-trail but on-trail, nothing was left of the mining village.
In our last several miles, we hiked a long gentler, but still rocky descent. This is after all the Pennsylvania portion of the AT, referred to by hikers as Rocksylvania.
Along the way we spotted the oversized, beautiful mushroom identified by our hike leader as Chicken of the Woods. It is reportedly safe to eat (please check it out with someone who knows about these things before doing so) and is so tasty is can be used as a meat replacement.
So, another section of the AT I had not hiked before is in the logbook. I will rest up a bit before I take on that ascent again.
I don’t usually use poles, but today they were helpful both on the journey to the top and the steep downhill that followed. I also opted for my heavy, clunky hiking boots over the trail running shoes I had originally planned to wear. When I’m heading out for a hike, I generally bring a pair and a spare.
How is your weekend going? And, when is the last time (if ever) you heard the phrase “what in the blue blazes..”