Sunday, September 15, 2013

Excerpt from my hiking journal: Sept. 12

While hiking, I keep a journal of what I've seen along the way. Usually these become the basis for the trail descriptions appearing in my various hiking guidebook series. Today, I'd like to share an excerpt from my journal about a hike taken this past week near my home in Wisconsin (It’s a non-public trail and so won’t be used in any of my hiking books!).

Sept. 12, 2013
(through the woods behind my farmhouse)
With autumn’s arrival, the leaves have fallen off the bottom branches, or at least the animals fattening themselves for winter have eaten much of them bare. So at last I was able to see many of the chipmunks and squirrels, who I’d only heard scampering through the summer, as they made their last collections for the cold months ahead. In one small cliff cutaway, I even spied a bee’s hive built beneath a limestone overhang.

Then while walking along a ridge, I unwittingly frightened six wild turkeys asleep in the grass on a ravine’s side. They took off with a whoosh that scared me as much as I did them. After jumping back, I realized what was making the hillside come alive as they took to the air; I don’t think I’ve ever seen turkeys fly that high.

Down at the ravine’s bottom, the pond has yet to dry up, which the black bears apparently appreciate, as I spotted their paw prints in the sand and from the trail to the green water a path of crushed grass, the wild fresh scent of their broken stems still filling the air. These bears must have bad table manners, though, as some of the scat was full of acorns that appeared to be unchewed. Imagine a bear just stuffing a paw full of acorns into his mouth and swallowing whole!

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.