Before we hiked all the way back out, we discovered something our faster pace had missed on the way in...a small ice cave. This valley is known for the many ice caves that form under the ridgetops and we've enjoyed exploring many of those, both with KVR sponsored hikes and on our own. We even developed an EarthCache that highlights one of these, and have guided groups out to it a couple times in past years.
We decided we could try to hike the trails that are close in to the Visitor Center, or at least as many as our muscles could manage for the day. Most of these segments are not very long, meant more to encourage visitors to begin their exploration of the Reserve. We headed out down the hill, along the rustic steps and found ourselves enjoying a classic KVR scene...rocky bluffs rising above the twisting river. We listened for birds in the floodplain forest, stark in its winter dress. Woodpeckers and chickadees are always present, but the hope for a Goshawk is always there. Today we'd have to settle for the woodpeckers and chickadees, but they're a treat any time of year. I'm sure with exploring the riverbanks, looking for birds and checking out little things here and there along the way, we added to our day's mileage...but again, that's kind of the point.
geocaching, and while we choose our caching based on scenery and hiking, the focus is different...find that box in the woods! Hiking the trails with no other agenda than to see what's around the next bend is a refreshing change to our time spent outdoors. We came into that geocaching stuff with a love of hiking and exploration already developed, and choosing to pursue this challenge helps bring us back to those shared roots. We ended our day completing six listed trail segments of a total of sixty, with an estimated four miles of hiking. Hiking these bluffs, with their dramatic elevation changes, can feel like more than that, but we ended our day with pleasantly aching muscles and lovely memories on the trails.
KVR Trail Challenge segments hiked today were...Segments 20-25.