Sunday, April 30, 2017

Short, Long and Some Hiking In Between

Got out a little after 6:30 am yesterday morning for a quick spin around the block (ie Highland Green via the powerlines) before Ryan headed out for his long run. Not much of note, except a whole lot of birdsong and one Great Blue Heron fly-over, the first of the season sighting. A good fairly snappy 5 miles.

A little later in the morning, Sam and I headed over to the Brad, and met up with John and Emma and kiddos. It was a nice morning and the park was very busy! We hit the playground for some playtime and then Sam and I hiked up the Summit Trail to the summit, where we stopped for a bit to watch some raptors soaring up high on the air waves. We took Northern Loop all the way down for a nice 1.5 mile loop, and I swear she did not stop talking the whole way ;) She is getting to be such a big kid with lots of her own ideas and many questions about how the world works, and she still likes to hold my hand, about which I will never complain. I love spending time out in the woods with her.

Checking out the hawk watch

Windy selfie on the summit

This morning, I got up and headed out into the decidedly colder and windier morning - only 40 degrees when I left the house at 6:45 am with a feel like temp of 36. What happened to yesterday's warm temps?! I ran holes 3-9 on the cart paths as it was much too early and too cold for anyone to be out golfing, and then looped back on hole #5 and onto the Heath trail. From there, I ran down along the river and out across the bridge to Head of Tides. Tried not to get too distracted and stop to take too many photos but boy, is it pretty out there right now with the river still roaring and the forest floor greening.

Returned via the same trails along the river to make it a bit of a longer run and then took the back dirt road and looped back and up and over Mt. A. to get to 16 miles on the nose ;) I felt decent throughout although my legs were feeling a bit tired on the more technical, rooty stuff. I guess it makes sense since this was my longest trail run since the Fells! :) Happy to have gotten in the miles and to hit another 40+ mile week.

Saw two deer, several phoebes, three cormorants out at Head of Tides, one Mallard plus a whole lot of skunk cabbage coming up along the river and in the swampy/marshy areas and numerous patches of trailing arbutus.

Roaring river


Spring colors at Head of Tides

Friday, April 28, 2017

Back to Reality

Back to school and work this week. XC started up on Monday for Sam, and next week we add in swim club. It's going to be a busy spring!

Got out on Tuesday morning for a nice run out in the Cathance. Six miles, with a roaring river and mist rising, a probably coyote sighting as s/he loped across the 3rd hole into the woods, two mallards seen in the swamp grasses and the first wildflower sighting of spring - patch of trailing arbutus at the edge of the trail to the Heath! Love this time of year with the woods greening and the wildflowers beginning to show.

Mist rising

Morning along the river

Trailing arbutus

Wednesday, it rained all day and honestly, I just wasn't motivated to get up and out early in the rainy gloominess, so it was a rest day :)

Thursday, it was misting slightly when I headed out around 6:00 am but it was warm enough to wear shorts so I'll take it! I ran up over Mt. A. and hit the cart paths for a rather soggy 6 miles. Tons of worms out on the paths and pavement. Was hoping I might see some red efts or other salamanders out and about too, but alas, just the worms :) Felt good.

This morning was yet another misty, overcast morning. Ran out into the Cathance with a vague mileage plan, but mostly just a plan to run easy and happy and to enjoy it. It was really wet and squishy and slippery and muddy out on the trails, and the river is running seriously high right now, much higher than it was on Tuesday, with some flooding over the banks in spots. Of course, this made for some incredible, roaring rapids too, which is always fun! I ran out across the metal bridge onto the extended Cathance trails and did the Blueberry loop before heading back. Along the back dirt road I saw a deer crossing, and a phoebe flitting on a branch. Also some pileated woodpeckers calling, but otherwise quiet. A few more patches of trailing arbutus to be found but not much else. We need a bit more warmth and sunshine before things really begin to pop. A good 10 miles for the morning.


So much water

The roaring Cathance

One lone patch of ice hiding out underneath an overhanging rock along the river

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Home Sweet Home

Vacation is always fun, and we had a great week in North Carolina, but it is always nice to be back home. Got in a nice run *on dirt!* this morning out in the Cathance. Great to be back on the trails! No snow and really not even much mud - it was mostly just slick out there from yesterday's rain. Things are greening up out there but nothing blooming yet. The river was roaring and the sun was shining. A good 7 miles to finish up a 41 mile week. Now if I can just keep it up...

Friday, April 21, 2017

Last Full Day of Vacation

Well, it's official, I am tired out ;) It's been a fun and busy vacation week, and we are so lucky to be able to spend this time down here with Mom and Dad. It has been a blast!

Got up this morning and ran the same loop through the neighborhood and along the berm as I ran yesterday, except in reverse. It was muggy out and I was admittedly feeling a bit sluggish after not sleeping well last night, so although I wanted to get in some speed, my legs weren't super willing ;) But another 6 miles with some good wildlife sightings one again, so I'm not complaining too much.

Then it was off to the beach to enjoy the warm and sunny day. Sam spent a fair amount of time in the water and had some fun building a sand castle with Neenie. Not a whole lot of shells to be found today but two other jellyfish washed up on the beach. A fun way to finish up a great week!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Fort Fisher Aquarium Fun

Up and out into the misty morning around 6:50am for a run around the 'block.' Took it nice and easy. Got in a muggy 6 miles, getting in some good wildlife sightings along the way - the alligator, only eyes and end of snout visible in the berm pond, four great blue herons, a great heron, osprey, several redwinged blackbirds and a bunny!

Then it was off to Fort Fisher to visit the Aquarium. It's a neat aquarium with one whole level devoted to local NC wildlife and aquatic species, a touch tank, a big tank of fish, sharks and rays, a turtle exhibit, etc. They also had a special lorikeet exhibit - a little bird house you could walk through with cups of nectar in hand, and have the birds land all over you and drink it up. It was pretty neat, although both mom and I left there with lorikeet poop in our hair 😂😂  It was a fun way to spend a few hours!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Holly Shelter Game Land Exploration

Ryan and I took advantage of a cooler, overcast morning and headed out to do a bit of exploring on the sand and dirt roads in the Holly Shelter Game Lands. This is a huge tract of land, managed for forestry and traditional uses like hunting, trapping, etc, with a large swamp in the interior and some immense long pine and pond pine forests throughout. We parked at the Bear Garden Road entrance outside of Burgaw and took off down the very flat dirt road for 3 miles before turning left to run a loop along the Hine Kiln and McKoy roads, and then making a loop on the other side of the road along the Wolf Den Loop before returning to the car. This yielded us 15.2 miles, and only scratched the surface of this one section of land.

It was neat to explore this fascinating, rather desolate, yet obviously utilized area, but it was really, really flat and I think it would have been unbearable had it been hot, as there was no shade anywhere with the wide open roads. The land, although not pretty in a traditional sense, was interesting and we ran through a fair number of burned pine sections regrowing with green undergrowth, swampy areas filled with bushy undergrowth, sections with lots of swamp laurel, blueberry bushes, swamp azaleas and big bushes that were obviously in the magnolia/rhododendron/laurel family. We heard a lot of bird call, but saw no wildlife other than a large black rat snake, one eastern box turtle and numerous Palamedes Swallowtail butterflies along the way. We also came across two hunters in their vehicles, one of whom stopped to talk to us for about 10 minutes - he was out turkey hunting, to no avail, and was very friendly and talkative. I imagine him going home and telling his buddies, well, I didn't find any turkeys, but I did run into these two kids out running 5 miles out on Bear Garden Road. Crazy! ;)

All in all, a fun way to spend a morning and always good to check out a new place!

The starting gate

Game Lands running

Sheep laurel

Hines Kiln Road

"Trail" sign

White swamp azalea

Palamedes Swallowtail on thistle

Eastern box turtle

Bear Garden Road junction (ie the middle of nowhere)

Dirt roads forever...

Clear cut area, heading onto Wolf Den loop

Burn area to the right, swamp to the left

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Quiet Day

Quiet day here on the vacation front... got in some very muggy, soupy miles this morning on the Landing course cart paths, as the course is closed today for maintenance. Nice to have some undulation of terrain (maybe 50 feet of gain, ha ha ha!) but the paths are concrete to offset that... Regardless, a nice 10k for the day, complete with some good wildlife sightings - two red-headed woodpeckers, two fox squirrels, a big group of goldfinch, several bluebirds, a catbird and some mockingbirds.

There was even a bit of relaxing after I had finished up payroll and while Ryan, Sam and Dad were off golfing and Mom was taking a nap this afternoon :) Ah, vacation...

And to keep this post a bit more exciting, here are some photos from my parent's yard...

Three baby bluebirds hatched today!

Tree frog napping

Camoflaged green anole

Oh hi there...

In bloom