Monday, November 2, 2009

Tom and I have been "training" for the New Zealand trip by hiking a lot.  Sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with a group.  When it was still hot out we led our own trips because it was harder to find people to hike with because of the heat.  But I found that it was not too bad if you plan it right.  Choose trails with good tree cover and hike down ridges that are in shadow during the time of the day of your hike (for example, hike down the western slope of the SNP in the morning).  A bug net for your face is a must for summertime hiking too.

Now that the weather is good and the trees are pretty, there is no shortage of hiking companions.  Saturday we went hiking with the OASC/PATC in the SNP and there was about 12 of us.  Most of the leaves had fallen off the trees in the lower elevations, and the upper elevations had about a quarter of the leaves left.  Only oaks and beech leaves remain on trees.  I think that the general population does not realize that peak color in the mountains is about 2-3 weeks before the valley.  Tom and I have been enjoying fall color at various elevations for almost 8 weeks. 

Last weekend's hike was from the Pinnacles Overlook, along Whiterocks ridge and along Hazel River.  The first and last miles were not fun due to the steepness of the trail and poor footing from the fresh wet leaves.  Overwise the hike was very nice.  The weather was very warm (70s in the valley) and humid with some sprinkles at the end (I hiked in a t-shirt and shorts).  We ate lunch next to nice waterfall that was flowing well due to the recent rain.  There were some nice old growth trees along the Hazel River Trail, and I found a poplar leaf on the ground measuring over 10 inches wide.

I don't have any pictures for you yet, but here are is the gps info.  We hiked 10 miles, climbed about 2000' at an average speed of 1.8 mph.

From Hazel Mt-Whiterocks SNP

From Hazel Mt-Whiterocks SNP

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