Friday, November 23, 2012

A Thanksgiving day walk

Scooter carrying food and water

Walking up Leetonia Rd

Wilson Pt Rd turn

Lee Fire Tower site

Heavy Mt Laurel and wrong turn

Beginning half-mile trail

There is a video with this so if you get blog by email and want to see video you will need to go to the website.

So I decided to go on an eight mile hike for Thanksgiving. The weather was perfect and it saved me tons of calories eating a big meal. I took only Scooter with me as I knew the trail was going to be too rough for Speck, the Chihuahua and Leo had cut his foot on a hike the previous day and I didn't want him to damage the foot anymore.

I packed Scooter up with all the snacks and water and we headed up Leetonia Road from the house. It was 22 degrees out so I dressed in layers and found out my sweatshirt was too hot by the time we walked a mile up the road. Hiking upwards creates it own heat and the sun was warming things up quickly. When we turned onto Wilson Point Road I thought the worst of the hike was over now it would be mostly downhill when we got to Half-mile trail.

I took a picture at the old Lee Fire Tower site, I remember as a kid coming up there and climbing into the lookout station when they still had rangers that looked for forest fires. The new technology of satellites sadly ended the need for a fire tower and it was torn down in the late eighties. My mother who never liked heights barely could stand even watching us climb up in the tower that moved in the wind. I had seen a marker on the ground up there and was going to take a picture of that as well, but the leaves hid it so well I couldn't find it.

Just about a quarter mile past the fire tower site I saw what I thought was the beginning of half-mile trail. It didn't take me long to figure out it was an old logging area so heavily covered in Mt. Laurel even Scooter refused to move without encouragement. Mountain laurel has very crooked branches that seem to grab at you as you try to make your way through them. We both tripped and stumbled looking for what I thought would be the trail soon. Once you go so far through hard brush it is hard to think about turning around and going back through it again, but that is exactly what I had to do.  At first I thought the trail had disappeared in the logging and laurel as you hear me state on the video. So I decided to walk farther down Wilson Pt road and within another half mile I found the sign and trail.

The trail was overgrown with Mountain Laurel, but not to the point a small path had disappeared. The further down the trail we went the less Mountain Laurel, but there was a lot of debris and downed trees across the path. Half-mile trail's name is deceiving because it is not a half mile long in fact it is nearly two miles long. The only reason I can figure they called it that is if you drive from the point on Cedar Mountain Rd where it comes out to the place on Wilson Pt Rd it is about 5 miles so going through the trail cuts that in half. Well, a bit more than half. The trail is beautiful going down the side of the mountain along a creek bed, which at one point you feel like you are getting close to then it stays an even distance from you most of the way down as it descends with you. It is only the last half mile of the trail you see the water close to you.  It is a shame the trail has not been better maintained for if a hunter tries to use it to bring back game it is pretty much an obstacle course. However it is pretty well marked and nice as a long hike.

At the bottom of the trail they are working on one of the bridges so the road down to Leetonia is temporarily closed. During my entire walk I saw only birds, some chickdees and about six grouse. There were however signs of deer and turkey scratching things to eat from the ground. The walk with my mountain laurel detour and taking time to eat a lunch took me four hours and I covered about eight miles. Certainly this is no speed record but it was a nice hike to appreciate a wonderful day in the woods. I felt especially thankful for the opportunity and the health to complete it.  Scooter crashed when we got home tired from being the pack animal. The other dogs were full of energy and I think a bit put off they didn't get to go. Have a great Thanksgiving from Leetonia and remember to enjoy the things we get for free that are priceless. Mountain girl, Paula, logging out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Firewood pile is cut

Speck on top wood pile

Side of wood piles

Front of wood piles

It has been a great week of weather staying dry enough that I finished cutting all the logs up into pieces. The next chore is running them all through the splitter and stacking them in the sun to dry. The couple rows in front are the large logs where the pile sat. They were very large in diameter my 16" saw couldn't cut through them from just one side. This made them extremely difficult to lift even the cut pieces and this is why they aren't stacked very high. This will be 2013-14's wood. It is a big job cutting two years worth of wood at once, but on the bright side I get to skip a year.

Seems like a lot of bear hunters stomping through the woods but I haven't heard much of anyone close getting anything. The nice weather has been kind to the hunters as it has been getting close to 50 during the day. I been trying to do some last minute cleanup and straightening of things before we get snow. It is harder to find stuff when snow is pilled up on it.

Lee is in Arizona visiting some friends so it is just me and the dogs for Thanksgiving. We had an early nice dinner when some hunters gave us three Grouse. I cooked them up and shared a few bits with the dogs. I have to admit the Grouse are one of the few animals I enjoy the taste of. For such small birds they have quite a bit of meat. They are worth breaking my mostly vegetarian diet to indulge in.

Straightening up the garage is my next project and I have to admit one I have been putting off. I look at it and just shake my head wondering where to put everything. The strategy hasn't made it clean itself so far. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Misner Trail walk

Frost on Plants

Misner Trail

Hickey's Clubmoss

Decided to go for a walk this morning it was around 24 degrees when I started. Last night it got down to 16 degrees, but promises of upper 40's made a walk seem like a nice idea. The dogs have been a bit cooped up the last few days with bear season starting so they were anxious to go on a nice walk as well.
Scooter was so wound up he was racing back and forth annoying Leo by taking little nips at him on the way by. Finally  Leo had enough and snapped back at him. This didn't seem to phase Scooter too much as his lack of exercise lately just exploded out of him, grabbing sticks and jumping into the freezing water. Finally, about half the way up Misner trail he settled into more of a normal dog speed.
There are a few trees across the trail, but for the most part it is a nice short cut to the other side of the mountain and Francis Rd. We walked over to Dee's camp about a 2 mile hike and back. The dry weather has made for easy walking and the sun coming through warmed things up nicely for a walk.
My last picture is off a plant called Hickey's Club Moss. They look like a little pine forest growing, but never get any taller than about 6 inches. I guess it is a pine forest for faeries. I always thought they were some kind of fern, but found them listed under club moss.
I didn't see anything bigger than a Chickadee all the way over and back. Hunters I have talked to have complained as well about the lack of game. There are a few deer who mostly come out after dark during hunting season and the rest of the animals stay hidden at the sound of the first bullets.
 Seems like most of the deer like the good life on flat farm land where getting a meal is as easy as walking through a farmer's field. Life up here is much tougher for deer, predators, changes in the forest and hunting practices have all contributed. Giving out of doe permits here seems counter productive if you want more deer, but I believe this forest makes more money off trees and gas than hunters will ever bring. You can draw your own conclusion from that.
The weather is supposed to stay dry and seasonable through the next ten days. My focus today is getting the rest of my wood cut up for next year. Have a great Leetonia day. Mountain girl, Paula, logging off.