Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brief Cure for Stir Crazy

Well, I haven't been able to go hiking lately. Our vacation to Acadia National Park in Maine was killt dead because of Carole's impending surgery.

Today, I was off from work. I could do one of several things:

housework while Carole slept.

do some shopping for some electronic stuff.

work on my latest novel.

go hiking somewhere close.

Well, I didn't feel like doing the wash. The new converter box for the upstairs TV can wait. (I don't watch TV anyway.) I've worked like crazy on my novel all summer and one day away from it can't hurt.

I went hiking.

Along the trail. Despite the drought, the forest was still green.

I considered several nearby parks. Crowders Mountain State Park I scratched off the list because I've been there too many times. But it's conveniently close and I'll go back. Just not now. I thought abut South Mountains State Park because it has a couple of great waterfalls that I knew would be positively thundering due to the massive rainfall we received from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay. But, again, it's a place I've been many times. I thought about driving up to Hanging Rock State Park, but the two-hour drive was just a tad too much to face today.

So I opted for Kings Mountain National Park. It's not a National Park in the classic sense--it's principally an historical park based around a Revolutionary War battlefield (I think they based the movie THE PATRIOT on that battle, starring crazed Jew-hater Mel Gibson ). But I didn't go hiking around the battlefield, because it was actually clear-cut when the park was dedicated so that Republican asswipe Herbert Hoover would have sun to stand in during the dedication ceremony. They only left one large poplar to provide some shade.

What I was interested in doing was hiking to the top of Browns Mountain. It's the southernmost in the line of peaks that stretches from Crowder's Mountain in the north to...well...Browns Mountain in the south. While Crowders is an impressive monadnock surrounded by cliffs and loaded with quartzite caprock, Browns Mountain is just a modest ridge rising up above the flat Piedmont leading off to the coastal plains. Beyond Browns Mountain there are no more peaks to be seen. Just flatlands and a few minor hills. While Crowders and Kings Pinnacle have cliff faces and rocky summits, Browns Mountain is composed of a conglomerate of soil, hard clay, and quartzite rubble. While not making for an impressive mountain, it does provide just enough resistance to the elements to keep this ridge from wasting away into the coastal plains.

The hike was nice. It was actually a bit more rugged than I had anticipated, and the 5.2-mile round trip was a little bit more of a workout than I had thought I'd get. The skies were still overcast from the lingering effects of TS Fay, but it didn't rain. The air was, however, very soggy and I got really soaked just from sweating.

On the summit! A whopping 1045 feet above sea level!

Unfortunately, I saw no wildlife at all. The park is over 4,000 acres of forest and battlefields, and surrounded by rural lands and even state park lands to the south, but I'll be damned if I saw any wild critters. No deer, no varmints, no birds, no interesting insects. I didn't even see any wildflowers! One thing that was interesting is that the forest has burned in the past year or so. The understory was completely burned out and I got quite a lot of soot on my legs tramping off trail searching for flowers. I don't know if it was a wild fire or a prescribed burn. But maybe that's why I didn't see any wildlife.

At any rate, it got me out of the house and I bagged a minor little peak. All in all, not a wasted day.

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