Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hiking to the height of inspiration!

Such a lovely spring weekend, we decided to return here the next day and enjoy the long, ascending hike to Hanson's Rock, before things got overgrown and the views weren't as expansive. We loved this hike so much, we tripled one longer segment. More on that later.

As we set off, we realized early on we'd be taking on a fair amount of elevation today. As with much of the valley, the bluffs rise up from the base of the Kickapoo and its many tributaries. We started out near the Weister Creek campsites, heading along the low area of the West Ridge Trail until our climb began, which wasn't too very long at all. We transitioned from low wetland meadow to towering pines with maples mixed in, creating the perfect setting for carpets of trilliums covering the forest floor.

We enjoyed seeing them spread out before us and beyond us and wandered a bit off trail, but there were heights we had to climb, so we continued along on a perfect spring morning.

We met but a few others out today. At the start of our climb, we met a mom and kids with a dog, perhaps some of the folks who'd set up camp near our starting point today. As we climbed up and up and along some rocky outcrops, we met one fellow coming back down, perhaps seeking mushrooms....or maybe pursuing the Hiking Challenge as we were.

As we continued along, enjoying a dip back down into low-lying areas, we took in that wonderful spring sense, where some trees are just beginning to show green and others remain skeletal, as if wondering whether it was safe for the leaves to burst forth yet. We were back in a low area, looking out over ponds and wetland and thinking.....weren't we supposed to be heading *up* today? While it hasn't happened too often, we realized that we'd once more missed a critical point if we hoped to get to Hanson's Rock and then back down. One of the side effects of taking in the sights and sounds of the KVR.

We'd already put quite a few miles on our boots and had a decision to make at this we go back up that hill where we took a wrong turn, or come back another day to head there? We'd already hiked a significant trail segment twice. This would make it three times. We figured....that first haul up the hill through the deep forest was a burner. We're already past that, so maybe it makes sense to just finish what we'd planned to do today and take the wrong turn trails as our bonus. Back on that trail we went, paying attention to the signs directing us where we'd planned to hike in the first place.

While we could feel the effects of the extra miles and the sun rising higher, we still enjoyed the hike up to Hanson's Rock. In the winter, we'd come about as far as the trail from the south end following the West Ridge Trail and debated continuing on up. That was another of the times we'd missed a turn or two and decided to save this one for another time. We're glad we didn't wait too much longer than today, because the trees were already beginning to impede on the sweeping view from the overlook.

While there are some nice tie-ups across from the view for the horses carrying their riders through the KVR, none were in evidence yet today. We spent quite a bit of time drinking in the view as well as water from the water bottles. We also took note of the small things nearby that could be missed when presented with such a vista. Hoary Puccoon, which seems to love these ridgetops, was peeking up not far from the precipice of Hanson's Rock. We've seen this in shades of orange, but today it appeared in yellow. Different variety or maybe earlier in bloom? Not botanists, we simply enjoyed the fact that it was there....and that we'd noticed it. We bemoaned the fact that we never think to pack lunches when we head out for a day, because if ever there was a perfect picnic spot, this was it. We'd surely worked up an appetite by now!
We were happy to have made the choice to repeat part of our hike not once, not twice (which is a common thing for this challenge) but three times. We'd hiked a decent hike yesterday already, and were beginning to feel the effects, but the days are getting longer and we had nowhere to be, so we enjoyed a leisurely return back to our parking spot. We briefly considered doing the Ma and Pa Trail, since we were so close, but we'll save that for another time.

KVR Trail Challenge segments hiked today....Segments 2-5, 7-8 and 27

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