Sunday, June 19, 2011

East Or West, A Trail Is Best

MST – Day 48 - 3-8-11 - Hanging Rock State Park to Family Dollar Highway 8 – 8.6 miles
I wanted to clean up what was left over from Sunday’s outing.  My daughter Laura was home from Virginia Tech for spring break with not much to do so I enlisted her to be my shuttle driver.  (For Christmas she had given me a sweet “coupon” good for one day of hiking, so I cashed it in for helping me today.)  In addition to the road miles, there were a couple of trail miles from the Hanging Rock State Park visitor center where Danny and I ended almost a year ago to Hanging Rock Park Road that I needed to cover.  Only 8.6 miles all together, doing it alone meant doubling to 17.2, not viable since adding a four-hour round trip drive already made for a full day.  (Confession:  I mainly wanted to spend time with my baby girl.) 
I wanted to do the road miles first and save the trail for last.  Laura dropped me off with my bike at the entrance to HRSP and the road immediately started steeply uphill.  This first climb was very surprising – why was I breathing so hard?  This was going to be a rough six miles.  My mind ran over options:  call Laura, tell her to come get the bike, and start walking.  But each succeeding climb was a little less intense, and the one I had dreaded most, the 1.5 miles leading up to Highway 8, was quite gentle .  The song Dog Days Are Over” with its fast-then-slow-then-fast tune reverberated in my head all day.  I finished the ride in about 45 minutes, including time to stop for a couple of photos en route.
The courthouse in the charming little town of Danbury, NC

Laura met me at Family Dollar, we loaded up the bike, and then drove to the Hanging Rock VC where I changed into hiking clothes.  Even though the trail was less than 2 miles, I was fully outfitted, and I felt a swell of anticipation, a lightness in my spirit as my feet went from pavement to dirt.

From the visitor center parking lot, Indian Creek Trail runs concurrently with the MST and passes a lovely stonework shelter built by the CCC

A gentle downhill took me past Hidden Falls and then Window Falls. 

The trail follows Indian Creek most of the way to the park’s edge and Hanging Rock Park Road where Laura was waiting. 

The walk in the woods was wonderful, reminding me that this is truly what I love.  Road walking is better than sitting on the couch, road biking is tough and exhilerating, but hiking on a trail is just this side of heaven.
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.  ~ John Muir

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